Sunday, June 24, 2012

Core Values for a Human Being

The other day I wrote about the bus monitor and how awful those kids were for treating her in such a savage manner.  Jersey McJones suggested that we bloggers should all take a day to write about the Golden Rule, or just the core values to being a decent human being in general.  So let's make today core value day.

I always tell my kids this simple phrase: be good, do good.  What does it take to be good?  Well, in my mind it takes only two things to be good.  Thing one is integrity, and thing two is compassion.

With integrity comes a true sense of self and moral boundaries that you are not willing to cross.  Those of us with integrity have good moral character.  We cannot have integrity without compassion.  Compassion is that quality that makes us truly human.  To be moved by the suffering of another human being is one of the deepest feelings we human beings can experience.  As Virgil said in the Aeneid: Sunt rerum lacrimae, et mentem mortalia tangunt.  "There is a compassion for suffering, and it touches the human mind."

If you are not compassionate, then you are no good.  Those kids lack any semblance of compassion.  Sure, they're acting repentant now, but it's because they're feeling shame and guilt, not compassion.  They don't feel bad for degrading that woman.  If no one ever found out about it, and if they weren't receiving threats from the righteously outraged people of America, those kids would go about their lives feeling as though they did nothing wrong.

Psychopaths are physically incapable of feeling compassion.  Their brains simply do not register feelings of remorse, guilt, love, or compassion.  Compassion is a learned thing, however, and if our kids aren't taught to be compassionate, then they likely won't be.

It's not enough to be good, because who cares if we're all just privately good people?  We have to do good.  We have to work to better the lives of others.  We have to treat people with dignity and respect, because we know deep down that every human being deserves that treatment.  How do we know this?  Because we don't enjoy it when we're being treated poorly.

We're losing this notion in America today.  American society is becoming more about doing whatever makes you feel good rather than actually considering the wellbeing of others.  It's a draw back to our rugged individualism.  Yes, individualism is great because it gives us the tools we need to be free-thinking humans, but taken to its extreme it isolates us from one another. 

Kids today are being taught that morality is subjective.  They're being led to believe that the timeless values that have served mankind for thousands of years are "antiquated" and have no bearing on people today.  Words like justice, prudence, courage and fortitude are not being taught in schools today.

Kids need to be taught that life is not all about fulfilling all of your needs and instincts.  We have to teach our kids that a good life is one spent in kindness and service to others.

Be good, do good.


Silverfiddle said...

Wow. I thought I was going to get through one of your posts without disagreeing, and then you threw this in:

It's a draw back to our rugged individualism.

"Rugged Individualism" means something specific, and that ain't it. You've fallen for the lefty trope.

Those kids are not rugged individuals, they are entitled brats who, as you correctly point out, have an almost sociopathic incapacity for empathy and respect for others.

Please don't smear a traditional American trait by applying its traditional label to sociopathic zoo animals.

And you close well. It's all about morality. Glad to hear you say it.

Jack Camwell said...

I didn't say that rugged individualism is a bad thing. But all traits have their drawbacks.

As another example, our sense of egalitarianism has screwed us in some ways, namely in education. Because we're so afraid of saying that someone is better than someone else, we've dumbed down our schools so that kids don't have to feel like they are intellectually inferior.

As I said, rugged individualism taken to its extreme leads to a more isolated society, and that is a bad thing. It also mutates into this asinine notion that we're supposed to be selfish.

So you're right, what these kids are doing is not the American value of rugged individualism. I was not attacking the idea of rugged individualism, but rather attacking those who take it to an unhealthy extreme and engage in this sort of behavior.

You can't disagree that rugged individualism has turned into intense selfishness in many Americans.

I thought you had more respect for me than to assume that I fall for *any* trope. If you look at my blog roll on the right, you'll see that I've only got 2 "lefty" blogs up there, and I don't read them very often.

Silverfiddle said...

As I said, rugged individualism taken to its extreme leads to a more isolated society, and that is a bad thing.

OK, so are you saying those little bastards are extreme rugged individuals or not?

They are not practicing in any way rugged individualism. They are engaged in selfish nihilism, which in no way has anything whatsoever to do with traditional American rugged individualism.

So are you connecting the two or not?

Jack Camwell said...

Selfish nihilism is rugged individualism gone wrong, is it not?

Silverfiddle said...

No. It is not.

Now, I asked you a question, are you going to answer it?

Are you connecting the two, knowing that Rugged Individualism means something very specific?

Jack Camwell said...

Well, I can do the same thing Silver. I can make a statement as if it were fact and just leave it at that, as if I were the grand arbiter of all that is true.

Your problem is that you're looking for fights where there are none.

What is the extreme of democracy? Mob rule. What is the extreme of authoritarianism? Totalitarianism. What is the extreme of Libertarianism? Anarchy. What's the extreme of existentialism, or even absurdism? Nihilism.

All ideas have their extremes, Silver. These kids, and American society as a whole, are taking rugged individualism to its extreme. The extreme being not just physical isolation from people and society but emotional isolation as well. It's all about me me me, and how I feel.

Think outside the political clap-trap box that the Republicans and Democrats have you stuck in.

You're waiting for me to say "yes, I'm connecting the two things," so that you can jump on me and insult me for buying into some bullshit that idiots like to spew from their mouths. You are trying to fit me into some ridiculous argument that I'm not even trying to make, because it's easier to argue against the stuff you're used to arguing against.

I don't bat for either of those teams full of asshats and pseudo-intellectuals. I'm purely discussing this on a philosophical basis, and that has seemed to elude you.

KP said...

<< What does it take to be good? Well, in my mind it takes only two things to be good. Thing one is integrity, and thing two is compassion. >>

Compassion is the tricky one for me because I can skimp there and fall back on the fact that I think I have integrity.

Compassion means listening. I still struggle to remember that when someone has something to say it might be enough that I let them I hear what’s on their mind and in their heart.

I don’t think it is too late for those kids on the bus. Their little brains are full of plasticity. They are behind the learning curve, just got Tomahawked (the NAVY weapon) and I hope humiliated.

I have been a victim of bullying. Sadly, I also recall times when others might say I was an ass if not a bully. It’s never too late to change.

By being honest about what can be changed in our lives, we will have more time and energy for what is already right in our lives.

Jersey McJones said...

I had to work all day, so I didn't get to partake in this wonderful discourse on the Golden Rule, but man o'man, we need to do this stuff more.

Silver, I think I have an example of "rugged individualism" gone amok - and you see it in the "bitch" culture among some women.

Over the years, we've all known many a woman who actually prided herself in being a "bitch" - that is to say, "I tell it like it is with no regard for what any one else thinks." It's kinda similar to early Camille Paglia, but without the sexiness (except most of these "bitches" think they're sexy, though to most men it's an annoying and pointless turn-off).

Strongly asserting something to someone without regard to their feelings can be not just nasty or unpleasant, it can be sociopathic, and there are serious consequences of sociopathy that involve our liberty, rights, and the Constitution.

What to do about all this is another matter. It's a cultural problem, though sometimes it crosses over into other spheres of interest. But I think we particular bloggers (we bloggers who enjoy spirited political, religious, cultural, social debate and such) should always stand up for the Golden Rule, not just for the issues we address, but in how we address them, and for whom and what we advocate.

It's not about political, or scientific, or social, or religious "correctness," as any idiot can see a bitch. It's about being honest and being "compassionate" or "sensitive" or whatever you want to call it.

Oh, and by the way "it" is called being SOCIAL. Being a nice person who engages, learns, teaches, and otherwise enjoys the people around them, rather than bitching about them. And it also means being yourself within the social compact you have in any given group. Being as honest as you should be.

I can be a little vulgar and coarse when I blog, but in real life, I can also be a little vulgar and coarse (I'm a loud nut, but always nice and sensitive to other people).

I'm, of course, always vulgar and coarse. With you guys, I can let my hair down, so to speak. At work, shopping, discussing the bills with my wife, speaking to a stranger at the grocery store; I am a different person then. I'm "domesticated" Jersey McJones.

I don't go around demanding people think as I am all the time. That would be sociopathic.

Great post, Jack. Thank you so very much for mentioning me. I should become a blogger editor! I think I'd be good at it! I love working with great writers like you guys! :)


Silverfiddle said...

Jack: You used a term that has a specific meaning and history (mis-used it, in my opinion).

By doing so, you give the impression that these little bastards are Randoids run amok, and nothing is further from the truth. Were they quoting Atlas Shrugged? Espousing values from Hoover's speech? Living by the code of the old west?

Can you point to anything in their behavior that suggests these are little rugged individualists?

These are self-centered nihilists and nothing more, and there is no continuum or nexus between that and rugged individualism. You misapplied the term. That is my point.

Anonymous said...

Compassion is for faggots.