Wednesday, 8 February 2012

To Do Another Harm

Thought experiment. I'm asking myself what it would take to compel me to violence? You see, I am generally incredibly laid back; not prone to road rage, or smarting when somebody queue jumps, and I've not the least inclination to raise my fists to anyone.
I blame my father. Docile fellow. Took an awful lot to rouse him, and even when he was it seemed an effort. So it's in my genes, I suppose, and I'm really pleased about this. I've always found myself perplexed at the women who lurch from one abusive male to the next; never seeming able to recognise the plug hole of self respect down which they plunge. And the men themselves, the guys who impose themselves by physical force or coercion? Is that really strength? What did I miss? Seems very much the opposite to me? In fact as far as weakness goes I'm hard pressed to conceive of a creature more pitiful? So then, is aggression really a quality you find alluring? Ok then; just understand that you've chosen a pretty feeble expression of it.
Anyway, about me and violence. What would it take? I expect my evolved instincts would hold sway; I'd die for my children, for my wife, and certainly stand in the way of harm if a deeply felt principle such as my right to free speech was placed at risk. In terms of how much harm I'd be prepared to cause I just don't know; I've no inclination to expose myself or others to the kind of risk required to measure it. Besides, when we use terms such as courage what do we actually mean? To defend others, to protect freedom, to ensure the highest good for the largest number? I have not been to war for my country and admire greatly those young service people who've done so on my behalf. I respect them so much. In contrast, what are we to make of those who compel us to fight wars in the first place? Surely all war is a tacit admission that we have let ourselves down as a species? That we've allowed our failings to gain a magnitude that shames us? Oh heck, I'm no politician and I'm not a wise man. But as Sam Harris famously observed, no society ever destroyed itself when it attempted to be too reasonable.

No comments:

Post a Comment