Saturday, October 01, 2016

Paul, Mohammad and Principled Loyalty

For a long time I was accused of lacking social skills. Later on in my life I was referred to as a glib sociopath. With some people you just can't win. What actually happened was that I learned certain skills that I had lacked before. A person who learns skills consciously rather than unconsciously is going to understand the process a lot better than someone who has learned them unconsciously. A person who's got from point A to point B will understand the process a lot better than someone who's always been at point B. For that matter, as a non-native English speaker, I understand the English language a lot better than most native English speakers. That, once again, is that I've learned it consciously rather than unconsciously, and I have more insight into the subject than someone who has not been through this process.

In this manner, a person who went from being a bad person to being a good person will have more insight into the matter than someone who's always been a good person. That, once again, is because such a person would know what it takes to get from Point A to Point B than someone who's always
been at Point B.

This brings me into a different but related subject. It is that of religion. The effect of a religion - or any other belief system - upon the person is judged, not by what the person had been before adopting the belief system, but upon what he became after adopting the belief system. Paul, as a result of following Christ, went from being a bad person to being a good person. Whereas with Mohammad we see the exact opposite. He, as a result of inventing Islam, went from being a good person to being a bad person. He started out as an honest, intelligent, truth-seeking person. He wound up as a brutal tyrant and a pedophile. And I do not care one bit if saying such things will bring onto me a fatwah.

Now according to some Christians I know, Quran was given to Mohammad, not by Angel Gabriel but by Angel Lucifer. According to them, Satan tells things that are technically true but that mean something completely different from what you would expect it to mean. There are any number of Muslims who think that they will get 72 virgins in heaven. They will get them all right. The problem is, they all will be male and gay.

There are - and always have been - and always will be - different conceptions of ethics. What I am advocating as a workable system of ethics is what I call principled loyalty. I do not mean simple loyalty. Simple loyalty creates things such as the mafia and Jehovah's Witnesses, where people have strong internal loyalties but treat everyone else like dirt. Nor do I mean principle by itself, as such lacks compassion. What I mean is principled loyalty: Seeking the well-being of the next person while refusing to do wrong things in their name. I will seek the well-being of the next person; but I will refuse to commit murder or rape for them, however much my loyalties to them may be.

There was one situation in which a woman stated to me that she was praying for her ex-husband's death. I told her that she could not pray for such a thing. What I told her instead was that she should do what the Bible told her to do - pray for her enemy - while also praying for the people he stood to hurt. That way she would be doing what the Bible told her to be doing. And she would also be addressing her concerns - for herself and others whom that man stood to hurt.

Now a person who comes only from the position of feeling - or of simple loyalty - will see such an attitude as a betrayal. A person who comes from the position only of thinking will see me as being irrational for having gone there in the first place. What I do instead is become conversant in both thinking and feeling, and use each faculty to correct each other's capacity for error. I experience something as it is experienced by its participants,and I also look at how it affects the rest of the world. That way I have the full perspective; and it is a methodology that I advise others to practice as well.

An idealist is judged, not based on his behavior prior to inventing or following the ideal, but by his behavior after that. This is the case both with Paul and Mohammad, and of course many others. Paul went from being a bad person to being a good person; Mohammad went from being a good person to being a bad person. I do not see Islam as being wrong for relativistic reasons. I see it as being wrong absolutely. With a creed that is as absolutist as Islam, it takes absolutist and not relativistic arguments to confront it. Whereas if Christianity can vastly improve the character of someone as bad as Paul had been prior to his conversion to Christ, then it can do the same thing with any number of others - including the people whom modern psychology damns for life as supposedly being "sociopaths."

People should not only be taught feeling, as American baby boomers had been, nor only thinking, as American gen-Xers had been. Either one creates a half a person. Insteat they should be taught both. That way they have a use of two valid faculties. These, then, check one another's capacity for error, while combining with one another to achieve wisdom fuller - and faster - than through either faculty acting alone.

Combining feeling and thinking is therefore a valid path toward understanding. Combining experience and observation is a valid path toward analysis. And principled loyalty is a far more valid path to ethics than either mere loyalty or mere principle. I do not want to see the world being run by mafia values. Nor do I want to see the world being run by coldness and out-of-touch ineffectuality. I advocate principled loyalty, that seeks the next person's well-being but refuses to do wrong things in their name.

Neither coldness nor mafia practices are correct. Having both compassion and principle is. Understand the next person's experience, but do not partake of their errors. Instead correct these errors and guide them toward a better place. Do the same likewise with nations, civilizations and societies.

This methodology has uses in all sorts of pursuits; and I hope to see more people practicing it.


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