Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop Kidding Yourselves

I've been trying to look at life from a different perspective lately.  For a while I felt sort of lost, or like I just couldn't see things clearly.  I liken it to trying to navigate through a forrest.  The destination is clear, meaning I can see where I'm supposed to end up, but the trees were thick and there was fog everywhere.  So what do we do in a situation like that?  We continue to go forward and stick to what we know will probably work.

Why veer off to the left or right when you know the destination is straight ahead?  If I run into some sort of obstruction, just side-step it if it's small enough.  If it's a big obstruction, like a mountain or something, then climb it.  Perseverance is what counts, right?

That was a poor attempt at some imagery in order to convey the fact that I realize that I've been guilty of tunnel vision.  I, like most people, refused to look at life in any other light than what I "knew" in my heart to be true.  I was stuck in the prison of my own mind.  So what I've been trying to do lately is observe humanity as though I were not human--alien, if you will.  What would an alien from another planet think of humanity and the things we do?

That's an important question that everyone should ask themselves, because if you understand the implications of it then you'll likely be amazed at what you discover about humanity and yourself.  It requires you to throw out all of your conceptions of what is acceptable and true.  You have to pretend like you don't believe in whatever it is you believe in, and you have to look at the idea as though you've just heard it for the first time.

Since I've started to do this, my perspective on humanity has changed dramatically.  There's so much bullshit out there that people buy into, and if they would just force themselves to look at it objectively then they'd see how ridiculous it all really is.

Take the various forms of killing, for example.  There are people who get incredibly incensed over some killing, but they seem to be okay with, or apathetic to, other sorts of killing.  It's wrong to kill an innocent person, and we feel like those responsible should be punished for it.  So what do we do?  We kill the people responsible for it (in some cases).  Killing innocent people in war is a bad thing, but we don't really seem to care all that much, because it's war, right?  Collateral damage.  The only people that cry for justice for the innocent slaughtered in war are those who've been touched by said slaughter, or bleeding heart liberals.

Some people are trying to say that flushing out a zygote, a 2 celled organism with human DNA that has no sentience whatsoever nor the ability to survive on its own, is morally impermissible, but killing a cow--a sentient being that can feel pain, fear, can reproduce and be content chewing on grass and what not--is okay so long as you're doing it "humanely" and for the sake of consuming its flesh.

All life is sacred . . . except for the lives of animals, enemy combatants, "collateral damage," and of awful criminals.  Those lives might still be sacred, but they're less sacred than the life of a baby, because the baby is innocent, defenseless.  The baby will grow up to have aspirations and do great or terrible things in society,  unlike all those innocent "collateral damage," people who were already grown up and had aspirations; unlike the death row inmate, who is incapable of defending himself; unlike the cow that is also innocent and incapable of defending itself.

Am I trying to defend abortion?  Not at all.  I think it's pretty barbaric.  But am I going to sit here and kid myself about how silly it is that we humans try to rationalize the killing that we think is permissible?  We do it all the time.  We tell ourselves that capital punishment is okay because that criminal is a danger to society.  We convince ourselves that collateral damage, although regrettable, is a an inevitability of war so we shouldn't feel too badly about it.

We've got to eat, right?  So those cows giving their flesh for our consumption is totally okay.

Killing is never a good thing.  Ever.  It might benefit society in some way.  It might further a goal.  Hell, it might even free a people from a maniacal dictator so that the ones left alive can have a better chance at a free existence.  Killing might spare a child the shame of being a rape baby.  It might save a mother's life.  Killing might stop a madman from taking over the world and annihilating the Jews.

But seriously, don't kid yourselves.  Some killing might be more legitimate than others, and we might differentiate which killing is more permissable, but it's still killing.

For those of you who will inevitably argue against me and defend capital punishment, let me leave you with a little scenario.  Let's say a psychopath brutally murders someone that's very close to you, and he isn't caught.  You find him, plot his death, and kill him.  Is that murder or not murder?  Flip side, he is caught, prosecuted, handed the death sentence, and he's executed.  Is that murder or not murder?

In one of those cases, the state would cosnider his death to be the administration of justice, and in the other scenario his death would be perceived as a murder.  Free your mind for just a minute and truly think of that objectively.


KP said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am doing some of the same work in my mind when it comes to politics. I listen to the far right's bitter condemnation of the far left and hear the far left's angry condemnation of the far right. They both can't be correct all the time. More likely, they take turns being correct and even more likely is that both sides have something we should all consider without ideology.

Imagine how useless money might become of we were attacked by an alien life form who came to earth to eat us.

I can tell, when my daughter was diagnosed with stage four cancer I wasn't getting my panties in a wad reading lefty or righty blogs.

KP said...

This is a bit off the subject, but in my view, watching ideologues arguing political ideology can be quite frustrating. It is like watching someone with an addiction. The pleasure they get from conflict is unnatural.

It doesn't bother me that Reagan went from a D to an R. I like the fact that he kept searching for answers. I wonder if some are unaware of possible blind spots. Maybe they don't know what they don't know. I think I probably have blind spots. The difference (I think) is that I want to become aware of my blinds by lowering emotion and seeking a dose of humility. But damn, that's hard work :-)

Harrison said...

I'm against the death penalty because it's expensive, not applied equally, and someone innocent could get put to death. But if all of those obstacles were somehow removed I'd be all for it.

People say killing people to show killing people is wrong miss the point.

It's not about killing a murderer it's about letting them know, before they commit the crime, what the punishment will be. If they're okay with that, they go an commit your crime.

And about killing cows... check out Love Hungry from Tales from the Dakrside about a woman who hears and sees food as if it is alive and starves to death!

About 8:05 in!

Silverfiddle said...

You find him, plot his death, and kill him. Is that murder or not murder? Flip side, he is caught, prosecuted, handed the death sentence, and he's executed. Is that murder or not murder?

Not murder.

I think you've got it. Man's justice can only be a shadow of God's infinite justice, and is therefor imperfect, as is all of our mortal projects

Western civilization's morality, for better or for worse, is founded upon Christianity, both New Testament and Christianity's understanding of the Old Testament.

In The Bible you will find righteous killing and unjust killing, and that is where we draw our distinctions from. You may not agree with it, but that is the source.

Personally, for the sake of nothing more than getting anti-death penalty people to shut up and stop crying crocodile tears over the execution of filthy degenerate murderers, I would be willing to forsake the death penalty in exchange for life with no possible hope of parole.

Jack Camwell said...

My point is that it seems silly that the state can do the exact same thing as another man. The state can plot a man's death and kill him, yet we call that justified, or lawful. NOT murder.

They're essentially doing the same exact thing as someone to takes justice into his own hands, it's just that because society says that that's okay, it makes it not murder.

And I'm not an anti-death penalty sissy or whatever. I seriously could give a shit less that there's one less scum bag walking this earth. Their deaths don't move me at all. I'm looking at this from an objective angle.

Certain forms of killing are okay simply because society says they are? The only difference between a man being executed by the state and executed by the person he wronged is that the state acts as a middle man.

You might mention something about due process and fair trials and all, but in the end the result is the same.

And the Bible was written over 2,000 years ago. I think times have changed somewhat since then.

Silverfiddle said...

They're essentially doing the same exact thing

No they are not. We have laws, investigations, trials, jury of peers.

A murderer does none of those things.

You contradict your own argument a few sentences later:

You might mention something about due process and fair trials and all, but in the end the result is the same.

So there is a difference, see?

I kinda see your point, but it's poorly argued. You really need to go whole hog and base your argument upon Buddhist philosophy or read some Quaker writings on the subject.

Jack Camwell said...

My argument was that the "difference," is artificial, and that there is no difference. What we see as a difference that separates us good people from the murderers is nothing but a rationalization to make ourselves feel better.

The ONLY difference, is that we tell the justice system that they can do it.

It's still murder. If you watched a guy murder your family and you tracked him down and killed him, what's the difference? You already know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he killed your family, hell you witnessed it. Just because someone has Detective by their name, or someone went to law school, means that executing him is somehow not murder?

I'm not trying to argue this on any religious moral grounds here (I don't think I mentioned the bible at all in my article) I'm just arguing the logic of it all.

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: OK. From a definitional standpoint, all you've done is stipulate that all killing is killing regardless of who does it or why. Got it.

Now, is all killing wrong?

Jack Camwell said...

Killing someone in self defense? It's not wrong. Killing someone in the name of "justice," yeah I think it's wrong. Abortion for convenience (ie. the mom just doesn't want a baby), yeah that's probably wrong. Killing an animal for food? It's probably not wrong, but that's tainted by my love for animal flesh.

Let's just be clear that I make a big distinction between "wrong" and legitimate. There's a difference between the morality of a decision and the practicality of it.

I have a real problem with people who try to morally justify whatever killing they are okay with, because beyond self-defense I don't think there's any real moral justification behind killing another sentient being. At best it's morally neutral, as bas as that may sound.

We know that killing, even when we think it's morally justified and wholly permissible, is a dark thing that affects the human psyche. Guys that come back from war who have killed enemy combatants, men who were trying to kill them first, still have problems dealing with the killing.

To me that indicates that there's something inherently wrong with killing in general, and all the explanations or justifications for it don't really change the nature of killing, it's just something we've come up with to cope.

Silverfiddle said...

Again, you contradict yourself. First you say...

Abortion for convenience (ie. the mom just doesn't want a baby), yeah that's probably wrong.

Then you say...

I have a real problem with people who try to morally justify whatever killing they are okay with

Which is it? Is abortion wrong or not?

Maybe this is muddled by your distinction between "wrong" and "legitimate," between "the morality of a decision" and "the practicality of it."

For clear thinking and argumentation, you've got to define your terms.

You've also got to define your moral standard. Yes, its all moral. You can call it practicality, but that practicality is based upon a moral and practical judgment.

When you make a judgment that something is wrong or legitimate, what is your basis?

Jack Camwell said...

When I said morally justify, I meant that I have a problem when people try to say that a certain type of killing is morally okay. Like it's moral to kill a person.

I've made no contradiction, becuase I said that abortions are not morally okay. I did say that at best any type of killing is morally neutral. It's not morally wrong to abort a baby to save the mother, but it's not necessarily a moral good. You can argue that you're saving the mother's life, which is a moral good, but to do so you have to commit what you call infanticide, ie. killing an innocent baby.

And I thought I made myself clear about the difference between wrong and legitimate.

By "wrong," I'm speaking about the morality of a decision. By "legitimate," I'm speaking about what was the best decision you could make given the circumstances.

A woman who aborts a baby because she simply doesn't want the baby is probably morally wrong, but it could be completely legitimate, or prudent if that word works better for you. The mother might be a psychopath, incapable of love. She might just not be ready to take care of a child. She might also not want to put the child into the adoption system, knowing how finicky it can be.

So the prudent thing to do would be to terminate the pregnancy.

It wouldn't be moral to kill someone who has committed murder (ironic, but not moral), but it might be legitimate. If the people demand that he be killed lest justice not be served, then it might be legitimate to kill him in order that the perception of justice be upheld.

Does that make my argument more clear?

I have, in no way, contradicted myself.

Jack Camwell said...

And I should have said "morally good" rather than morally "okay."

Killing is never a good thing. It might be better than the alternative outcome, but we live in a world where the decisions we make are sometimes a choice between bad, worse, worst rather than just good and bad.

Silverfiddle said...

I guess I just fail to see your point or what the purpose of this post is. Killing is killing? Then I get it.

And again I ask you, what is the yardstick for these judgments you make?