Right and wrong

Doc Searls says it ain’t simple. I wish more people would understand this.

Basically, all our politics proceed from two radically opposed notions that are nonetheless equally true. The one on the Right holds that the world is a dangerous place, that bad people are on the loose, and that we need to keep ourselves safe from those people. The one on the Left holds that the world is a good place, and that we should do everything we can to nurture whatever keeps it that way. As bases for default thinking both server to explain and dismiss much of what goes on in the world. Neither is correct in every case, and both are biased. […] Only one of those, however, makes interesting news. Only one of those is good for stirring up the kind of righteous anger that carries us to war, and to “delivering justice,” whatever we decide that is, and to justifying the deaths of the few for the good of the many (or of the wrong for the right, or whatever). Only one of those lends itself to handy all-simplifying sports and war metaphors. Only one of those justifies killing folks who have the misfortune of living in the wrong house, eating in the wrong restaurant or wearing the wrong clothes.

Until we discover the limits of the might-makes-Right’s moralities, its obsessions with power and security, its willingness to trash the very liberties it seeks to protect, and its ability to carry out its military ambitions, theirs are the arguments that are not only going to carry the day, but be tested in the real world.

I say let ’em test away. I just hope that somewhere along the way some of the world’s nonviolent goodness (you know, all that Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness stuff) successfully argues for itself.

2 replies on “Right and wrong”

  1. Right and wrong are subjective terms, and not absolute in any way. The same goes for good and evil, and more to the point truth and falsehood. Any so-called truth–even a mathematical or scientific one–has some foundation it’s basing itself on and working within. What happens when something is wrong with that foundation? What happens when that “error” is discovered–does it mean that what was once truth suddenly is no longer?

    I’d tend to say no. Truth is always being redefined, and to some extent the term has come to refer more to “what absolutely exists” than it probably should. Consider something as basic as someone telling you a fact. If they tell you something “wrong,” you’d be inclined to say they’re lying.

    For example, Bobbie tells you that “Vermont was the 20th state to join the Union.” Being an ignorant American, you’d believe him and live your life. But then when you found out that Vermont was actually the 14th state to join the Union, what do you do? Was Bobby lying? Or just misinformed? Say he was misinformed. Now what? Was he lying? Probably not (though this might just be a by-definition result of being misinformed.. which is an intriguing thought). Was he telling the truth..?

    What do you think?

  2. The world is indeed both dangerous & beautiful/loving. Do we sacrifice some or all of the beauty of the world for a little security?

    As a great US president once said those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.

    Eisenhower warned against the Military Industrial Complex on his exit from presidency.

    In todays economic world might is used to defend & grow economic & political power. This serves the few – particularly in countries with liberal economies (don’t confuse with liberal politics). The many – who are the worlds character – do not benefit as their freedoms are restricted, their lives can be disrupted by powerful security aparatus & a siege mentality can germinate. Resentment blossoms on all “sides”.

    All this when the statistics show that their security is not as much of a threat as say a car accident/AIDS or other tradgedy.

    In a liberal economy like the US individuals get rich from warfare – private contractors. Their incomes depend on fear (in their people – to allow big defence budgets)& conflict.

    Economic liberalism also means that you have to have means to run for office. Therefore rich lobby groups have undue influense & a shrinking number of independant media outlets discussing issues makes the public ignorant. Add to this the decline in education standards and a recipe for disaster or manipulation is made.

    I would like to note that rhetoric seems to de the driving force of the US population supporting war – reasoned discussion & analysis are vacant or manipulated so as to be incomprehensible, misguided or plain wrong. This is a dangerous mix.

    Many of the worlds problems & conflics are for resources. As these (natural or otherwise) are “owned” economics rears it’s ugly head. You have to agree that Saddam was nowhere near the biggest threat to US or the world when they were attacked, but they do have wealth & strategic positioning.

    Funding for fighting factions in Africa changes depending on who controls the diamond/gold mines etc.

    Those who push the security agenda can only bring inequality & pain. Either because you are the most powerful – tall poppy – or you are weak & trampled/used. This is wrong.

    Fundamentaly it comes down to education, in general the more educated find non violent ways to resolve disputes. Understanding the people you are dealing with is most inportant – & respecting your differences.

    Shortly after 9/11 I was in London & watched a BBC program that had speakers from America (an ex security advisor I think) Middle East, England & all seemed to agree that American & middle Eastern ignorance of each other contributed massivley to the situation were are in today. Amerca, they said, has not reported on it’s foreign policy to the mass public since the 70’s as the major networks found it to be unpopular. So they stopped showing it – advertising dollars & all that!

    Americans actually believed they were attacked because they are a free & hard working country???!!!

    This is wrong.

    To spread fear & wage war off the back of this & ignorance is wrong.

    The curbing of liberties & pushing a perpetual war agenda is wrong & can only be achieved with an uneducated or ignorant (deliberate or otherwise) population. A liberal economy helps by consolidating power to the few.

    Bush on education – he wants to pull school funding if avg marks aren’t met – perpetuate the spiral.

    Throughout history the downtrodden have risen. What future catastrophe is the Bush Administration cultivating for America. They will be the last Tyrant instead of the nation thet led the world to a better place.

    “Might is right” is wrong, the school bully seldom knows whats best for the whole class and NEVER acts on it if they do.

    With very few exceptions people love, value & respect life. We all can build on this common value if we only open ourselves to differences.

    Freedom is more important than security – our forefathers died for freedom, and in the future our children may have to again. For freedom from our own governments.

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