Friday, April 5, 2013

Ethics 101: Civil Society

A rant about the modern rage to make us all practice the same religion, as though such a thing were possible and/or good.

There is no such thing as "general moral decline" affecting an entire society of people uniformly.  I don't change my standards for what constitutes rape because some stupid yahoos in Steubenville reveal themselves to be criminals.  I don't change my standards for what constitutes pleasant sexual relations because my neighbor is into BDSM.  I don't decide to like Gatorade because some celebrity appears on TV telling me to.

Forget society. Forget all the morons who think they can make me like stuff merely by playing commercials and offering soundbytes. Forget marketing. If you have to tell me why I need something over and over while showing me a bunch of beautiful people (and/or celebrities), then I almost certainly neither need nor want what you're shilling. (Reverse psychology: seeing commercials often makes me hate what I see advertised, such that I become more likely to avoid it.)

Forget the ridiculous way of thinking that associates random decisions people make in utterly ludicrous ways: "My daughter decided to smoke: obviously this is because gay people are trying to get married! Heterosexuals in Steubenville cannot help getting horny and raping people: the homosexuals strike again!"  If there is a devil out there playing games with people's heads, then he is most certainly playing with yours as you spew this kind of nonsense.  For goodness' sake.  Grow up and take some responsibility for yourselves. Don't mind what all the people around you are doing. They are always doing dumb stuff (i.e. stuff that would be dumb if you did it).  Read history.  The best way to save the world is to stop trying so hard to make it sin the way you do.  We don't all sin the same way.  We cannot all like or dislike the same things.  We should not all want or avoid the same things.

People are always going to like and dislike different things, sometimes with really good reason. Eating wheat is a cardinal sin for my sister (who has full-blown Celiac disease: she was dying in her teens because she ate my mom's homemade bread), but not for me. The correct response to reality (bread kills my sister, not me) is not to ban bread (it is evil for my sister! people who make it are murderers!), but to make other options free to those who cannot stomach it (for whatever reason: if you eat bread and your stomach hurts really bad and you poop blood, then you shouldn't need doctor's orders to pass on the breadbasket). Be whatever you are, and ignore anyone who isn't OK with that.  You have the right to think my sister is silly for avoiding bread.  You do not have the right to punish her for avoiding it.

We do not all need to have the same habits.  We do not all need to recognize the same sins or deal with them the same way.  My sister's ability to make rice bread does not threaten my mom's ability to make wheat bread. Homosexual marriages do not threaten my heterosexual one.  Civil society is not about making me and my sister eat the same things (as though there existed some kind of food that was not also poison).  It is not about making homosexuals and heterosexuals (or anyone else) have the same kind of marriage.  It is not about making us all like the same stuff (as we never have and never will).

Everyone has different needs.  Everyone has different tastes.  Everyone does things harmless to himself that would be harmful if other people did them (as you know if you have ever helped a teen learn how to drive, or shoot a gun, or do anything at all, really).  My life is never going to be a prescription for other people's, and theirs is never going to be a prescription for me. I don't like what others like.  I don't need what they need.  I don't need or want their approval every time I decide to order steak for myself when they would rather have something else.  The restaurant of life has many options on the menu: let other people take whatever they want, and I will do the same. We can share space and be nice without liking the same stuff.

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