Friday, January 11, 2013
valid; legally firm; sound; not fallacious; genuine; not counterfeit; acceptable
I have a challenge for you. I am going to list the definitions of each word used above. I then want you to say to yourself “I am _______” using each of the following definitions in the blank spot. I then want you to examine whether or not you live up to each of those definitions consistently. But complete honesty is required in the evaluation, or this will be an exercise in futility.
"Unyielding to pressure; solid"
"Free from defect, decay or damage"
"Not Deceptive, Not Dishonest"
"Adequate enough to satisfy a need, requirement or standard; satisfactory"
I think if we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that overall we do not live up to these definitions consistently. Especially those that reference dishonesty or deception. If one says that they are not dishonest or deceptive, I must ask a question. Are you never dishonest or deceptive, or just most of the time? Because if you exhibit a quality randomly from time to time, that quality is obviously a part of who you are, whether positive or negative. It doesn’t necessarily define you, but it is a component of who you are. Intention does not have anything to do with whether or not the quality should be applied or not. You can’t say that a car that has ceased to run is still in working condition just because you plan on having it repaired. That is usually referred to as denial. The key point I’m trying to make here is, you either are something or you are not. Of course there are exceptions, but as you will soon see in the case of the particular quality I am referring to, there is no middle ground. Once again, are you able to fulfill the definitions of the word, as yet unnamed, at the top of the page? No. And neither am I. Are you curious as to what the word defined above is? The word defined at the top of the page is…
So after this potential revelation, we have been placed in a position of accountability that now eliminates the possibility of ignorance about whether or not we are good. One might claim “But I do my best to do good as much as I can”. This for me brings up the valid observation that if one is trying to be good, it is obviously an effort to be good. This would also leave us in the position to consider that there is another drive within us that prevents us from being good unless we are making an effort. This means that we are not good by our own inclination. Follow? Good intentions do not equal good substance. If one makes a batch of cookies and decides to add an extra cup of sugar to make the cookies even better, they will find as a result of their good intentions that the cookies have been rendered inedible for most people. Even though the baker had the most honorable intentions when he decided to deviate from the original recipe, the good wasn’t evident in the final product.
A bit of a departure here, but you will see the relevance (hopefully) at a certain point.
A famous man in history was bred in a very advantageous environment. He was talented, intelligent as well as charismatic. He had very high grades early on in school. He also had aspirations to be an artist and was a respectable writer. He was able to support himself for a time through his paintings, replicating famous works of art for postcards and pictures. He appreciated operas, especially those of Richard Wagner. He fought in World War I, and was decorated numerous times for acts of bravery. After the war ended he became a popular public speaker, chosen for the position by the army. From this position he was elected to be an observer of local political groups, investigating and reporting on them for the army. He then was elected as the spokesman for one of the parties that he had investigated and become interested in, even though he was officially still in the army. He was such an effective speaker, that even though there were less than 200 members in his party, he could draw crowds that were 10 times larger than the membership of the party itself. After leaving the army, he continued on in his position of spokesman for his party, also becoming the most successful recruiter and most effective fundraiser in the party, thanks to the paid attendance at his speeches. He eventually was promoted to head of the party, thanks to his successes in the promotion thereof. His growing audience was enamored with his sincerity and determination to bring the country out of the financial problems that it had been experiencing. He was very devoted to his country, demonstrating complete patriotism. He felt that the existing government was oppressive and as a result, formed a new political party in the hopes of defeating the current cabinet. He attempted a coup but he and his supporters were defeated by the government, and sixteen members of his party were killed. He fled to avoid being arrested, but eventually was caught and sentenced to a five year sentence in prison, where he actually served a total of one year. While in prison he also wrote the first volume of a two part book, “My Struggle”. He wrote a second volume of this work after being released from prison. He also resumed full leadership of his political party after his release. He began to build upon the party through the democratic process, allowing the public to decide the future of their country’s leadership by their own volition. As time progressed and the country’s financial situation became worse at the hands of the current political leaders, his own party became more and more appealing due to his support of nationalism. As a result of the party not trying to appeal to the rich or powerful, it was even able to draw people in who had never before voted. He was soon elected leader of his country due to his overwhelming popularity with the public and many who were in positions of political power. He was allowed after his installation as chancellor to replace those in existing positions of power with members of his own party. Inevitably his party came into power over every aspect of the country. He went on to bring his country to the head of world power and affluence. He also had visions and considered himself a prophet. Sounds like a noble, good man doesn’t it?
The man’s name?
He had the best of intentions, but his actions were possibly the most destructive of any one man’s in history.
You then might say something to the effect of “But I am not a person who has killed anyone or ordered the genocide of an entire race!” True, but that just clarifies that you are not a murderer. It doesn’t qualify your “goodness”. Many blatantly evil people have not murdered, but are far from being good. So this type of reasoning is logically unsupportive toward that end. And it can be applied to any potential behavior that you might consider the “sin” that makes one bad in opposition to your “goodness”. You don’t steal. I’m guessing that many serial killers never stole either. You get my point? You can not define good by the absence of a particular type of wrongdoing or set of wrong behaviors. You might also assume that you are good because you obey the law, or follow all the rules and regulations. Keep in mind that if you are speaking of laws of society or man, those laws vary from state to state, country to country and community to community. So which laws are right and which are wrong? And what if a law changes? Does this change wrong to right or right to wrong? Abortion is legal in many places. Does that mean it is okay to kill a baby just because someone “chooses” that option to avoid the inconvenient consequences of having sex? And what if someday, the laws are changed to allow theft or murders in certain circumstances, or in regard to a particular group or type of person? Does that mean it is okay for someone to break your car window and steal your CDs because you belong to a certain religious or ethnic group? You may find this to be a ridiculously impossible situation. You might say, “That will never happen.”.