Sunday, February 22, 2009

Absolute statements and American Values

(This piece is adapted from a comment I wrote in reply to an observation someone made about me.)

It's probably the liberal in me, but I don't go in much for the whole black/white, good/evil, with us/with the terrorists kinda thinkin'. I don't believe there are all that many absolutes, and I reject statements that speak in absolute terms. Just about all saints have sinned, and most sinners have performed good acts, too. All Americans (or Muslims) are not good. All Muslims (or Americans) are not evil. Not everyone who claims to be a faithful _______ (place religion/denomination of choice there) acts like one.

Just about anytime a person speaks of a whole group of people, whether chosen & denoted by their religion, their ethnicity, their country of origin, or any other factor, and speaks of them as though they are all one kinda person (whether all good, or all evil), one is almost certainly going to end up being factually incorrect in what one is saying about them. To group people together based on ethnicity, religion or country of origin, and then treat them all as one monolithic entity is the very definition of bigotry.

The same is true of me & politics. As a Green, I seldom agree with Conservative or Republican thought. (And contrary to what some have said about me, I'm generally not a big fan of Democratic thought, either.) Still, it's mighty rare to find me saying "Conservatives are evil" (or anything else, either), because I just don't think that way... Whatever issues and disagreements I have with individual conservatives or Republicans, wherever I may find them, they do not prove anything about ALL Conservatives, or Republicans, (or about any other groups to which such Conservatives or Republicans may belong, like "college professors," or "guys with hats," for instance...) Good or bad, whatever I'm saying about you, I'm saying it about you, alone.

I try to treat the people I meet as individuals, not as representatives of the groups they were either born into or chose to affiliate themselves with... Call me naive or crazy if you must, but I believe the more folks treat others as individuals, the better our personal & global relations with each other will be...

If you want (or want me) to condemn or praise individual people and / or individual acts, that's one thing... But chances are slim you'll ever get me to say all ________ are ____________, and I encourage everyone reading these words to give it a lot of thought before doing so yourselves. To my way of thinkin', it's neither intellectually or morally right to do so.

Yes, there is evil in the world, but it isn't "the Muslims," or "the conservatives," or "the non-believing nihilists" that are the cause of it. It's individual men & women murdering others, raping others, and treating others with disrespect and derision in a myriad of other ways large and small, that is at the heart of evil.

That's what I think, anyway...

The original version of this piece, and the comment to which I was replying, appear here, in case anyone's interested.


Dick Tremayne said...

The greater evil is complacency. Sitting idly by and watching the world make change after change for the worse and doing nothing about it.

Anonymous said...

I also commented on swash zone, but I absolutely loved this piece! With so much finger pointing and accusations it's refreshing to read someone with an open mind. I hate the all or nothing way of thinking. All liberals are this, all conservatives are that kind of thing. If more people thought like you do, imagine how much more could be accomplished!

repsac3 said...

Thanks, Jennifer... 8>)

I'll admit to not being perfect as far as this kinda thing goes, but I do try... ...and I'll usually admit it when I break my own rule in a fit of partisan pique. (Happens to the best of us, sometimes... 8>)

Thanks again for the nice comment.

The Griper said...

he laughs, well, what do ya know, we agree on something. lol

now learn how to apply this principle to the government and we might agree on much more

repsac3 said...

now learn how to apply this principle to the government and we might agree on much more

Not sure I understand your comment, Griper... What (and, what kind of) absolute statements do I make about (our, or any particular form of) government? I ask because I don't believe I've ever meant to intentionally leave anyone with the idea that any form of government--including our own--or any particular theory of government--including my own or your own--is all good or all bad, so if you have any particular examples where I have done so in your opinion, I'd like very much to review, and if necessary, restate them in terms more clear to your ear.