If you want to see a confused liberal, go to the produce section at Whole Foods and stand by the bananas.

In one bin, you have organically grown fruit; in the other, “fair trade” produce.

So, do you buy the bananas that are better for you or the ones produced under better conditions for the workers? Is it selfish to want to keep chemical pesticides out of your own body if it makes someone else’s life harder? Or is it really “fair” to support the workers with the “fair trade” brand if they have to live near fields that have been polluted with chemical fertilizers? You can see the dilemma.

While conservatives can accept that there are winners and losers in life (especially when they are the winners), we appear to struggle more when balancing competing harms.

Do we want the most good for the most people? Or is it sometimes better for most people to give up a little to prevent a few people from suffering a lot? Organic or fair trade?

This has been a winter of second guesses for me, where I’m feeling qualms about more than bananas.

Most recently, I have been wondering what I think about the demonstrations after the horrific events in France.

Seeing as I am pro-free expression and anti-murder, this should be a no-brainer. What those gunmen did was abominable, and could not be justified by any political aim. Period.

But I can’t help but think that the people who came out to march in support of the victims were missing something.

Terrorism is a tactic that the weak use against the strong. We might see the cartoonists in a grubby little newspaper to be outsiders at odds with the establishment, but to someone who really is an outsider – a North African immigrant, maybe – that publication was the establishment. This was a case of the rich mocking the poor.

Charlie Hebdo stands for a society whose highest values include free speech, individual autonomy and secular government – all good things to me, but maybe less important to someone who believes in a society organized by religion, where individual freedoms come after loyalty to the group.

We are convinced that our values are correct, and since we are powerful, militarily and economically, we project these values all over the world. When marchers in Paris proclaim their right to show contempt for what other people hold sacred, they are telling the world that our values win because might makes right. I don’t think that’s what they were trying to say.

Another second-guess came during the protests around the country after grand juries in Missouri and New York failed to indict police officers involved in fatal shootings of black males,

The protesters were mostly right: There is institutional racism that enforces a rigid class system in this country that only the most extraordinary and lucky individuals can escape. It’s an economic prison, kept in place by real prisons and a justice system that disproportionately prosecutes and jails people of the lowest economic class, which is disproportionately black.

But I did not march.

Police officers didn’t build the system. They don’t write the laws. They don’t make or withhold investment in communities.

Demanding that an officer go to prison for a decision he made in an instant, when he might have been scared for his life, does not address the problem. We should all be working to understand what could have been done in the weeks, months and years leading up to that instant, and not just the instant itself.

And then there’s the Super Bowl …

This season, I decided that I just couldn’t in good conscience watch football anymore. There is too much evidence that playing the game causes brain damage, not just from the exceptional hits but also from the routine crashes between helmets and the ground that happen multiple times on every play. A bad knee or back pain might be worth it, but dementia at age 50 is too high a price. Don’t do it on my account.

Despite my principled stand, they are playing the game anyway this Sunday, and as a Patriots fan, I’m getting pulled back.

I think it’s “Deflategate,” the controversy over whether the Patriots used footballs that didn’t have quite enough air in them. The whole country appears to be lined up against a team that I like and respect. In the six New England states, Tom Brady just made an honest mistake. But to people in the other 44, he is a villain. It seems so unjust.

When sports serves as the stage for moral drama, the games are hard to resist.

I haven’t decided whether to go back on my word and watch the Pats this Sunday. Or which bananas to buy.

Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at 791-6481 or at:

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Twitter: gregkesich