Morality Shmorality: Moral equivalency and its dangerous consequences

It amazes me that there are people that are afraid to make moral judgments, and for that they claim moral superiority over those who do. Allow me to show you how these people think, take Al Qaeda and The United States, lets stand back for a second and look at these two entities, but we must refrain from making any moral judgments about them. Lets point out something obvious and go from there, the United States kills people, as does Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

See, we’re both using the same tactics, we’re killing people! Often times that is as far as the argument goes with those that have this irrational fear of making moral judgments. It stems from another irrational fear, the fear to take a side. And that fear stems from the desire to live in a perfect world. A desire labored for in vain. They mistakenly make this assumption that peace and war are different positions on the political spectrum, when they are not, they are states of being. They also make the assumption that we are to blame because we’ve “offended” the enemy. First, you can be at war and you can be in a time of peace. You can be in favor of peace, as all should be, but you cannot have desire for peace and have it exist if it does not, because its existence is vastly out of your control. Secondly, just because you cower in the corner offending no one does not mean that you are at peace, and it surely does not mean that the enemy won’t kill you, that type of “peace” if it is a type, is artificial.

You’d be hard pressed to find moral humans that are actually in favor of war or like war, but you can find a lot of moral people that don’t mind a bit the needed action of killing a killer or the needed action of freeing a people from an oppressor.

This problem comes from what I call a perspective deprived world and a world that desires easy moral decisions rather than difficult ones. It is very easy to say that something is bad, but it is incredibly hard to say that something that looks bad might not be bad, but in fact it might be good. The easy road can work for a while, but at some point as you lackadaisically make your way down the “easy” road you become complacent with its easiness, you become weak and defenseless, and you will find yourself at the end of an oppressors boot heel and eventually dead.

Lets apply this idea to the original argument against war, which essentially boils down to the idea that because people die it must be bad, and because the United States is doing the killing they too must be bad. Allow me to shed light on the issue. Who is the US killing? They are killing the enemy, an enemy that seeks to kill and destroy innocent lives. But the US is killing innocents, are they not just as guilty as the terrorists? No, why should they be, the United States is not aiming to kill civilians, they don’t want it to happen. But just because you don’t want something to happen doesn’t justify it happening? Yes, in fact it does, the death of innocents is to be blamed on the terrorist and not the one trying save the innocent ones form these terrorists. Conversely, just because you want something to happen does not at all mean that it will happen.

Take for example a man held at gunpoint while driving a car. You must assume that this man has no way of fighting back, no way of removing himself from the situation. The maniacal man holding the driver at gunpoint has a bomb laden building down the street filled with 200 hostages just waiting to be detonated. The man with the gun wants the driver to deliver some drugs. If the man does not drive through a crosswalk filled with people, essentially running them over and killing them, the man will blow up the building. What, then, should this man do? A. Run over the people killing 10 or 15 people? B. Refuse to drive through the crosswalk, because its “morally” wrong, essentially letting the 200 perish? It seems only right that the man should choose A, run over the 15 and save the 200. Is the man driving then to blame for the death of the 15? He cannot be blamed because the only reason he is in that situation is because of the hostage taker.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Gray Champion” an oppressed New England is at the brink of a small war. “James II, the bigoted successor of Charles the Voluptuous, had annulled the charters of all the colonies, and sent a harsh and unprincipled soldier to take away our liberties and endanger our religion.” That soldier was Sir Edmund Andros, Sir Edmund and his men begin marching on a crowd of civilians, who are undoubtedly overpowered by the Red Coats. Cry’s for a “champion” come from the crowd as the people are looking for a way out of the situation. Then an old venerable man comes from the crowd, fearlessly walks up to Sir Edmunds army and speaks with them in a voice that beacons listeners. He brings news of James II soon to be demise. His words rally the crowd and start a fire underneath them, his voice “stirred their souls” and helped them confront the soldiers, “ready to convert the very stones of the street into deadly weapons.” Needless to say Sir Edmund does the smart thing and backs down, for reasons unknown.

Where is our gray champion? I wish he would come and save us. It is not the Red Coats or people of the like that we face, it is not even the terrorists that are our worst enemy. We are our own worst enemy, our desire to appease and to please those who wish to kill us will weaken us, as well as our desire to wish peace into existence. Imagine if the Gray Champion in all his glory had gone up to Sir Edmund and said “I wish we didn’t have to fight” or “no offense but can‘t we work this out?” Sir Edmund would’ve trampled over the champion and the people would have been complacent and had no desire to overthrow Sir Edmund.

In C.S. Lewis’ “Why I Am Not A Pacifist” he says “all we have to fear from all the kinds of adversity, severally, is collected together in the life of a soldier on active duty.” He then goes on to list everything that is to be feared from a soldier. Later he says that “…pacifism threatens you with almost nothing.” He goes on to say that he cannot be pacifist because he suspects that his wishes had directed his decision. That is a very good reason why the plight of the pacifist or the modern person that refuses to make a decision about moral questions, for fear that one might offend, actually lacks morality, because it is in fact based on artificial or contrived morality. And it all stems from their “wishes” or their desire for something to be, therefore, if I desire it, it must be, when that reasoning is completely false and baseless.

If one wishes for the sun to stop shining at noon it will not happen, one must pick himself up and go indoors to escape its burn. We have to act, if feelings are hurt in the process we must regard that as a small casualty. It would be far worse to have no feelings hurt with large human casualties, while we all sit helpless at the hands of a maniacal dictator as he keeps the “peace.” Surely, if the same liberty seeking spirit that existed in hearts of the revolutionaries, in the abolitionists and slaves, and in the men that stormed the beaches of Normandy exists today, I fear not, despots will be overturned. But if that spirit is dying, or close to dead, I fear, not for myself or the others like me, but for those who killed it. Freedom is a large responsibility, and if you freely abdicate your liberty and allow for evil to triumph, all out of fear, a fear that you might offend, you might as well just count yourselves as dead subjects.


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