But Joe was perhaps the first to feel the shame of glorifying, in the name of democracy and freedom, the vengeful brutality of a very strong man. For months he had been assuring himself, and listening to Sammy's assurances, that they were hastening, by their make-believe hammering at Haxoff or Hynkel or Hassler or Hitler, the intervention of the United States into the war in Europe. Now it occurred to Joe to wonder if all they had been doing, all along, was indulging their own worst impulses and assuring the creation of another generation of men who revered only strength and domination.
I wonder how often I indulge something despicable in myself in the name of virtue. I see examples all the time where someone starts off pursuing a good ideal and ends up strangely defying themselves. You've got your political leaders who are so absolutely certain of their moral position that they brazenly invade in the name of freedom, all while their opponents claim martyrdom over the "invasion of the infidels." It's all about perspective, I guess. And that's why I try to take in things from all perspectives. That's not a bad idea on the face of it. But, it can be quite crippling at times.
I've never developed a finely tuned barometer for appropriate indignation. I tend to come off soft in the hardest of circumstances. I suppose it's because I've been drilled to turn the other cheek throughout my life. Is that adequate when I'm being tromped on unprovoked? Is it adequate when my family is? Clearly not.
So, how and when do you draw the line? If you've been reading this blog for a few months, you'll remember my sudden embarrassment at having become crass and sarcastic. It seemed an inappropriate way to respond to the crass sarcasm of those who ridicule me. But since then, I've been overly soft at times too. Imagine, for example, a brazen pedophile who attacks a vulnerable person repeatedly--how do you respond to such a person? I found myself loathe to say anything insulting. I didn't want to label him or judge him or say anything bitter. That left just reasoning with an unreasonable fiend. And is that adequate when someone you love is being harassed? I went for using strong words... words which I'm still not certain were quite the right flavor. Words like evil and despise.
The point is, Joe and I aren't the only ones who have a hard time weighing things out. But I'd like to become aware of the issue to the point I can be as certain as possible that I haven't crossed a line in the opposite direction.