After four informative decades on the planet, society’s objectives still elude me. In this week’s news, an octogenarian made some ignorant and offensive racist remarks and nearly every citizen is ready to hang him. He’s a scumbag with intolerable views and a penchant for bigotry and deserves whatever penalties the league will impose, not to mention the American public’s derision. The only redeeming quality for this asshole is that he has more behind him than ahead of him and he’ll be leaving the planet soon enough. However, we have athletes who kill people and animals, politicians who lie and steal from fellow citizens, celebrities who drunkenly drive into others and drug themselves into suicidal endings, and yet, somehow we find empathy for their life’s plight, and offer them nth more chances to become good people. Strange, right? That an entire nation can pile on about words while offering understanding and compassion for acts.
I guess I’m trying to discover the goal. Is it a utopian society where everyone abides by a similar code of ethics – a supreme moral template – one which will eliminate any intrusion upon other people’s lives? Is this just the Au rule melting its way into the public consciousness in ways that folks in the Bronze Age just weren’t ready for? Are we now at an advanced stage of evolution where we can finally see others as human beings instead of animals and Darwin’s dogma has pretty much gone the way of Columbus’ theory?
Truth is, I want to understand. I’d like to be able to walk the Earth without fear of retribution because of my national flag, my belief system or my genetic inheritance. I would like to be able to approach my religious Extremist brother and have a conversation about deities, or drop into a KKK meeting and hear alternative perspectives on race relations. I’d like to chill with Black Panthers and anarchists and Yakuza and educate myself. It seems, however, that these groups are rather closed, shrouding themselves beneath the conspiratorial blankets of commonality. And but so that’s my point. We have factions that fracture our world while at the same time complaining that everyone should agree on things. In the marketplace of ideas, some are more valuable than others.
A recent study of citizens from fifty nations concludes the value parents most want their children to explore is not achievement, but compassion. Here in the States, “compassion” is one term in the literary pool of others like “tolerance” “acceptance” and “kindness.” So, inmy quest to understand, I need some guidance. When it comes to Sharia Law, which should I tolerate – the religion or Honor killings? When it comes to Affirmative Action, should I support the concept that we can treat some ethnicities differently than others, or is that whole idea a horribly slippery slope that also allows people to treat some ethnicities in a wholly negative way? Do I learn to accept Sterling’s blatant prejudice because I’m supposed to be tolerant of other viewpoints?
So many of our rights have come into conflict that we now depend on nine robed- folks to decide our own morality. Andlest we all forget how well folks in robes have done in the past, recall the Klan, the Clerics, the Priests, and the Driuds – toss in Darth Vader and you’re pretty much at the epicenter of indecency. If I blaspheme a religion, am I observing freedom of speech or abridging freedom of religion? When Sterling rants, is he observing right to privacy or executing hate speech? Do I need to wait a few years for these cases to navigate the judicial labyrinth before I figure out what’s right?
I guess I’m aiming my hood ornament at the following: It’s not going to work. Legislating morality is akin to building a dam in the Pacific.
As much as we can suggest utopian idealism, self-interest will always outweigh societal ones. Mankind is still animalistic by nature, andtherefore borne with survival instinct. Whether it be nation, tribe, family, or self, mankind will always choose his close relationships over distant ones. We will never get everyone to agree. And yet, until we all find a way to live our lives without infringing on the lives of others, we are doomed to destroy ourselves.
Ironically, if we ever do achieve a world where equality and compassion dominate, all that kindness will create a world where overpopulation kicks the shit out of us.
But hey, one can always hope, right!