Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Makes You a Liar?

I consider myself to be a fairly moral guy.  Sure, I curse a lot, but I have a set of moral values that I try to follow.  I try not to wrong anyone: I'm generally honest, I'm generous, and I try to be kind to others and not cause anyone undue pain.

Nearly everyone has a set of moral convictions to which they try to adhere, but there are extreme cases that cause our morality to be shaken.  It's easy to sit back and say "lying is wrong, therefore I don't lie to people."  That's an easy thing to follow through with.  But what about something like the death penalty or abortion.

For some of us, there are issues that are fairly unsettling because our intellectual understanding of the subject sometimes conflicts with our gut intuition on it.  Killing happens to be one such issue.  Intellectually and morally, I can sit here and say that killing is never a good thing.  I can say that taking a man's life out of vengeance or justice is probably not good, even though it might serve some practical purpose.  And I can say that with a straight face, because in my heart I believe that it's wrong to kill someone out of vengeance.

Being the empathetic person that I am, I always imagine myself in the situation where I would have to choose whether or not to take a person's life.  I wonder to myself if that person had, say, murdered someone I love, or molested my children, would I grant this person mercy?

Intellectually, I know that I should.  I know that exacting vengeance will ultimately solve nothing in the realm of morality.  Even though he's a monster, he's still a human being, and all humans no matter how horrifying deserve to be treated as humans.  If I am able to kill him in cold blood then what does that say about me?  But then I start to think about how disgusting child molesters are.  They prey on innocent children and shatter their lives forever.  I see them as not even human--subhuman.  To me they're twisted visages, malevolent humanoids who haven't a shred of decency.

If a person committed such an attrocity against my children, I could kill that person and feel no moral compunction about it whatsoever.  In fact, if a child molester were dragged out of the comfort of his home right this minute and beat to death in the middle of a street, I wouldn't stop it.  I wouldn't cry out for human rights.  Hell, I'd probably help beat his ass.

So because of that, I recognize that there are certain scenarios that make a liar out of me.  I can sit here and say that I would stick to my moral guns in most situations, but in others I fear that my passion would outweigh my conviction.  I wish that I could be a stalwart like St. Thomas More, or anyone else who has gone to their grave over their conscience, but I have to admit that I'm all too human.

So what makes a liar out of you?  Once you admit your own moral frailty, where does one go from there?  My guess is that there aren't many Thomas Mores left in the world, so how many of you are honest enough to admit it?  I can't shake this feeling that nearly everyone on this planet has their moral limits.  Granted, most people have a very high limit and would not lightly stray from their moral path, but does everyone have a breaking point?

12 comments:

Pressie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jersey McJones said...

Well, you're certainly not alone, Jack. We are all human, after all.

I never forget that guy who shot his son's molester on national TV. What happened was the guy had a teenaged son who was allegedly kidnapped by his karate instructor, taken to California, and sexually molested for like a year. Finally, the cops found them, and while the alleged kidnapper was being perp-walked between two police officers near some telephone booths, the father, in disguise and pretending to talk on the phone, turned from behind the suspect and shot him in the head.

He got five years probation - not a day in jail.

Turns out the son was gay anyway and did not resist his alleged kidnapper.

What do you think of that?

JMJ

Jack Camwell said...

"What do you think of that?"

It's a funny world we live in.

Peter McCullough said...

Years ago I went through a time so tough that even my married friends were having more sex than I was. So,after getting blacked out drunk I took home a rather unattractive bar hog and when she asked me if she was beautiful, I asked her if we did it yet. I was prepared to lie, was that wrong of me?

Anonymous said...

Jack,

The scenario you proposed is not a paradox of morality.

You can have your idealized morality, what you strive for.... what you truely want in an idilic world... but you need to view the world as it is.

I am not a killer, i wont just pick up a gun and start shooting. However if someone walked into my office and opened up with an AK.. and i had a clear shot at him, i would break his neck without any hessitation.

This person is disrupting the society i live in. Truely, the very ability for me to live a moral life. The first course of action i would take is restore the ability to live moraly... in this case, killing the bastard.

I do not recognize those who dehumanize people as humans. they have lost that right. they actually forefit that human right once they cross the line.... in my mind.

If you murder somone in cold blood, your life is forefit. If you rape.... you should be castrated and chemicly controlled... if you constantly injure others out of sheer spite you should be sent to a work prison where you can contribute to society with your labor, but not be able to harm others.



~Smitty

Harrison said...

You just have to take a moral stance in the "right" way. Never say killing is ALWAYS wrong. In self-defense it is NEVER wrong. You get into a gray area with respect to war. Is being told by your government to kill wrong or not? I guess that depends upon the situation. We all like to say WWII was the "good" war but what if you came across a German taking a dump and unarmed would you kill him if taking a prisoner was impossible?

I think that's where PTSD comes from.

Jack Camwell said...

I never said that killing is always wrong, just that it's always not a good thing. There's a difference between the goodness of something and the necessity of the action.

Wrong implies that it's never justified, and killing is most certainly justified in some situations. But just because something is justified or necessary doesn't make that action a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Bullies, blackmailers, vandals, stalkers, perpetrators of violence all deserve to die -- on the spot -- as their crimes are being committed.

Harassment should be a capital offense.

It's not vengeance, it's JUSTICE.

You don't get justice from our legal system.

Carry a gun at all times, and don't hesitate to shoot first and ask questions later if accosted.

A lot of dead guys tried to give their attackers the benefit of the doubt.

DON'T.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Aggression deserves to be met with a speeding bullet -- right between the eyes.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

If you're squeamish about killing your attacker, either shoot his balls off, smash his knee caps or shatter his ankles. Make sure he never walks again.

Sadists should be shot dead.

~ FreeThinke

Jersey McJones said...

"It's a funny world we live in."

Exactly, Jack.

There are rarely easy, black and white, answers to any given question. By definition, the easy question begets the easy answer. We've answered all that long ago.

All the questions that follow the easy questions become over each other ever more complicated, even exponentially, and hence more complicated answers are produced.

So, yeah, does the guy with the gay kid get to shoot the kid's NAMBLA ambassador (I assume?)?

Maybe.

It's a funny - and sometimes very sordidly funny - world.

JMJ

Jack Camwell said...

FreeThinke, it's not about being squeamish to kill a man, especially in a case of self defense. But executions are not done in moments of passion or peril: they are premeditated, calculated, controlled. We are killing someone who has no chance to defend himself.

Whether someone deserves to die or not, I kind of buy into Albert Camus's logic: how can a flawed human being determine whether another flawed human being deserves to die? Being flawed, wouldn't we run the risk of that determination being wrong?