September 17, 2009

Context

I recently got into an online argument with a leftisty over a particularly slimy item which equated the 9/11 attack with the takeover of Chile by Gen. Pinochet. A twofer of anti-Americanism! Arguing was a waste of electrons on my part, but I'll reprise some thoughts here, just for personal satisfaction.

I pointed out that the end result is that Chile is now a strong democracy, with the highest GDP per capita in the region, low unemployment, etc. In fact, probably the best place for people in Latin America. And the possible alternative that was avoided in overthrowing Allende is the hell-hole that is Cuba, where cell phones are status-symbols of the rich, and writers are thrown into labor camps. Where prostitution and sex-tourism are the only growth industries

Of course Mr D (I'll call him D for Denigrator) doesn't care a whit for brown-skinned people in far parts of the globe. They aren't real. (Unless they are harmed by the US or Israel. Then suddenly human suffering matters.) And of course the torture and suffering inflicted by the Castro regime is especially invisible.

Mr D accused me of worshipping force and empire, etc. And violating Catholic moral law, which does not permit doing evil so good will come. Which is true, and that is something I care about. But moral reasoning always exists in a context. It's not a simple set of norms that can be applied automatically.

So for my own satisfaction I'll place the situation in what I think is its real context, and any experts out there may feel free to correct me.

Imagine that I have a friend whose life is falling apart. Joe has lost his job, and is sliding into indigence, or crime, or addiction—something ghastly. So I steal some money and use it to help Joe pull himself together and get a job. And the end result is that his children are fed, and he becomes a solid citizen.

And then suppose that Mr D spends the next forty years, with smug self-satisfaction, accusing me of being a thief. And preening himself on his moral superiority. And never once expressing the slightest pleasure that Joe has escaped poverty. Suppose he is obviously ice-heartedly indifferent to the actual suffering human beings in the case.

AND, imagine that I continue on helping many other people escape the traps of poverty. AND, I find a better way [LINK!] to do so without needing to steal anything. And yet Mr D shows not the slightest interest in this, even when It's been pointed it out to him in the past.

Who's the Christian here? And who's the whited sepulcher?

Jesus told a story about a guy who helped a man who had been beaten and robbed. And the sharp point of the story of that good Samaritan was that Samaritans were despised heretics to the Jews! They were hated sinners, loathed worse than pagans. And, for the Jewish priest to pass by the injured man was probably a moral thing to do by Jewish standards. Pious Jews, especially priests, had to avoid all kinds of contaminations, like touching corpses, or touching non-Jews. But Jesus cuts through the crap with a brutal logic that it is hard for us to even appreciate now, and sides with the mucky yucky guy who jumps in to help those in need. If Jesus came back now he might tell the story of the Good Atheist, or the Good Mormon, who helps someone when supposed Christians pass on the other side of the road.

And think a moment about a person who spends decades repeatedly pointing out a particular sin someone committed. As if that ere the only thing that happened. Cherishing his moment of moral superiority. What does it tell you about the state of his soul? What does it mean? I think it was Augustine who defined the root of sin as being incurvatus est. That is, curved in on yourself. I think of that phrase when I see Leftizoids cherishing and caressing their little moral-superiority gotchas that in fact occurred when I was a boy! They keep them like oysters making a pearl. And their little ice-chip hearts curve in and in and inwards.

Life isn't like a series of neat binary moral choices. It's a struggle on a darkling plain. You can either jump into the maelstrom, and make mistakes, and try to do better. Or you can sit on the sidelines and sneer.

I think a lot of Lefties are like updated versions of the Cheshire Cat. They seem to be slowly fading into nothingness, until all that's left is the sneer.

Virtue is not, like riches, power or glory, a privileged or exceptional thing; it is the reign of order in every soul that wills it, the spontaneous fruit of love, which is the common fund of our nature, and the most lowly hut is an asylum as open to it as the palace of kings. A thought followed by a resolve, a resolve followed by an act: such is virtue. It is produced when we desire it, it increases as quickly as our desires, and if it costs much to him who has lost it, he has always in himself the ransom which will bring it back again...
-- Lacordaire
Posted by John Weidner at September 17, 2009 10:26 AM
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