Morality Vetis' Spiritual Journey Chapter II

Our legal system defines those with no objective moral compass as insane. By this definition I would, in my present state, be considered insane. Most people get thier idea of morals from religion, or enough of them do that this is going to be the topic of my next exploration. We will start at the begining of my journey as we did before, but along the way I will point out what I now find wrong with the reasoning of my younger self. This is something of a shorter journey then my journey through Christianity.

As I stated in the previous chapter, I was raised Christian. Not any specific sort, and actually a rather lax one, but it still incorporated the commandsments naturally. Many Christians see them as common sense. I'm going to go over the exodus commandments before I get to the extra one Christ added later. For my purposes here we can skip the faith related ones (sabath, graven images, strange gods) and move on to the ones that are written like laws. As a child I accepted what the adults told me was wrong. They told me lying, stealing, murder and adultury were wrong so I believed as such. Of course I led and stole, all kids do. Being naive I thought I was just a bad person. I didn't realize everyone does these things. It took me until my mid teenage years to realize the flaw in the commandments. The flaw is that everyone will break them, and we know they will. The trouble is with wording your commandments 'shalt not' followed by a thing you know people have always done. I'm not condoning adultury, murder, stealing or lying (I'm ignoring coveting because that seems like something you can't even help doing) I'm just saying that it happens and we know that. The bible doesn't say 'here are some things people will do and here is how you heal the damage' it says 'don't do these things I know you will do'. That seems to me a bit unfair.

This might seem to a lot of you like an explanation that can be exploited a great deal, and it can, but I think every action is the product of arrangemnts of chemcials and stimuli that have brought the individual to thier present motivation. Most vile human acts like warfare, drug abuse, and other crimes are the result of resource needs put up against a dense population. I know this, because these things have only existed for the last ten thosuand years and have gone on right alongside our agricultural revolution. It is of note to explain that I don't blame agriculture, I blame the resulting population figures for these things. In this way I don't find anyone to really be guilty exactly.

People have always killed each other and have always comitted somewhat forceful sex acts and taken property that wasn't thiers. We may have only been calling these things murder, rape, and stealing for the last few thosuand years but humans have never been saints. We shouldn't expect ourselves to be. Murder is a special kind of killing, the kind that we have decided is criminal. Rape is a special kind of sex act, the kind we decide is criminal. If a jury convicts someone of murder then you all KNOW that thier act of killing was murder and it wasn't self defense or an act of passion or anything else. Of course this doesn't make it true, but you will mostly all think of it as true.

You must notice by now that I don't have a lot of respect for our legal system. In particular I don't care for the way we write laws and punishments. It could be because of something you all know very well, which is the fact that they don't work. Every year we pass more laws and create more punishments, but these acts have never disapeared. I acknowledge that crime rates have decreased over the years to some extent, at least here in America, but a lot of innoscent people have suffered this legal system as well. I don't care for how it has turned into something of a contest, where actual guilt takes a abckseat to a prosecuter trying to make a name for him (or her) self. Even if the manner in which determining guilt were entirely fair, the idea of prohibiting things you know will happen isn't. There is nothing in our laws to heal the damage, just to punish the (suposed) guilty. It gives people a sense of retribution but it is a complete load in every way. Containing a criminal makes him(or her) more inclined to commit crimes when they are free, not to emntion the burden on taxpayers. Executing a criminal only sends them to oblivion where they are free from remorse or consequence.

You may wonder how I handle moral dilemas at this point. Do I actually forgive every single act because I don't see any guilt? You may be surprised to know this, but I am not beyond the negative emotions that plague anyone. I may argue on paper that I don't beleive in guilt but if the crime was agaisnt me or someone close to me I would be inclined toward retribution. I would always judge a dilemma situationally and I have no metric for what should be done every time. If ever I was inclined to kill someone for instance, it wouldn't be because of some idea of revenge it would be because it would keep them from doing harm, or further harm as the case may be. to me this is the only good reason to take life other then hunger or some other reason one's survival might depend on it. I will not say it is 'wrong' to take life purposely for any other reason, but I would not personally be so inclined.

I have gotten away from myself. Getting back to the comandments: there is the additional comandment added by Christ: 'Love thy neighbor as yourself'. Not the first time the idea is mentioned, but probably the more well known time. On paper it is a lovely concept but the reality leads to another aspect of my moral judgemnts that we will now explore.

Humans are designed tribally. Like all primates we are social animals with a group dynamic. The tribe is our own uniquely human group dynamic that evolved as our most effective social structure. This structure is wired into us. In our culture these days we are told to be indipendant, but our design leads us to religions, cults, gangs, clubs and other groups. The idea of mutual support is very deeply satisfying to us. This is why gangs and cults are sucessful. But there are limits. We are designed to be in small mutual support groups, though we live in large ones to a certain extent. The reason we are able to victimize each other so often is because beyond a certain amount, every other human is just a concept to us. Only our immediate social group is actually fully human in our minds. Only about fifteen at the most. We may deal with up to 150 and still hold on to some idea of humanity, but much beyond that and it breaks down. So to love thy neighbor as yourself is a nice idea but it goes beyond human capability unless we mean your actual neighbor as in your tribal neighbor. This cocnept, for anyone who cares, is called Dunbar's Number and if you're a fan of my writing then this isn't the first time you've heard about it.

I mentioned in the previosu chapter that I enjoyed a brief time after leaving Christianity as a shamanist. Most similiar such religions have really only one rule: if it harms none, do as you will. This was my rule for a few years and I supose you could call me a libertarian for it. I certainly didn't understand it that way. I still defend the right of anyone to do and say pretty much anything so I supose I ahevn't lost this. Though now I hav incorporated the idea that some things that do harm can be okay. There is really nothing I would call 'wrong'. Situationally there are timnes when I would disagree with someone's actions, but it's usually in an intelctual way. If it doesn't affect me personally or anyone I care about I'm not often inclined to care. An example of this is the anti vaccine nonsense going around. I know that vaccines are nescesary and if you are a parent who refuses to vaccinate thier child this is child abuse. I find it unfortunate that anyone could be so ignorant and I would try to inform them, but it would be wrong to say I actually care. Until they try to ban vaccines or until my doctor refuses to give them to my child (if and when I ever have one) I don't really have a problem with what they do.

You might best be able to refer to me as a nmoral nihlist though I don't call it that and was not aware of such a label when I became this way.

If anyone would care to hear my thoughts on a diferent subject next time let me know. Otherwise this shall continue when I next feel up to the task.

Uploaded 09/05/2010
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