Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Mouthful of Moral Ambiguity

A sunny, but chilly afternoon. The internet is abuzz with news of more shootings, and moral judgements. Always with the moral judgements. The internet with its vague air of anonymity, has made it much easier for people to be judgmental and dogmatic, because they can spew their ignorant vitriol without ever having to leave their room and mom's apron strings. They don't have to actually engage in the world. I get claustrophobic after a few hours online. Too many opinions and not enough factual data.

Certain murders are high profile and get lots of media attention. These are usually mass shootings, serial killers or something else that makes it noteworthy, like a live on camera murder. We all like to think that humans are better than that. If you murder someone, you must be some kind of moral aberration, thinking that society's morals don't apply to you, but the truth is much uglier. As cynical as it sounds, we have no higher purpose. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it does not bend toward justice. (Sorry MLK.)

The onlookers, milling about at a lynching, snacks and smiles can be seen. How many Christians are in the crowd?

We -- as a nation -- thought we were growing beyond racism and bigotry, but then we elected a black president and the haters came out of the woodwork like it's a termite's holiday. One of those haters, a Herr Trump, is leading the republican party. A psychotic self-confessed savior ("No more baby parts") went into a women's health clinic, and killed three people, including a police office, who was also a co-pastor at his church. The republicans see no need to condemn these heinous act, and their silence is sounds like support to their constituents. 

We are not too far away from starting to see modern pictures like the one above, with the violent rhetoric of the right, and insane Canadians like Ted Cruz, saying the most violent crimes are committed by Democrats. Trump is rallying the anti-Muslims, and the anti-immigrants, even though we're theoretically a country composed of immigrants. Tell that to the Native Americans. 

I'll leave you with a few choice quotes from one of the best books I read in 2015, Straw Dogs by British Philosopher John Gray:
“Genocide is as human as art or prayer.”
“Values are only human needs...turned into abstractions.”
“Morality is a sickness peculiar to humans.”
“Humans think they are free, conscious beings when in truth they are deluded animals.”
The above quotes may sound dark and cynical, but the reality of life is randomness and chaos. All the more reason to treat others as you would prefer to be treated. Some call this the "Golden Rule" and believe that it came from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, but that's not quite the truth.

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