Thursday, August 18, 2011
What Makes You a Liar?
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?