Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Indulging one's worst

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.


Scot said...

It’s certainly tough to “resist not evil”, just ask any pope of the inquisition. And I’m not the sort to be 100% passive either; so forget that ;-).

"So, how and when do you draw the line?"

There is a fuzzy line, a place where people can differ without harming each other, but I’d say a child rapist is well past the line. You’ve got a clear victim, and a perpetrator knowingly harassing and harming them. If you value the child’s life and rights, you have to act.

How to respond? I’d say give him and others like him motivation to not take such action, and that should include taking his freedoms, and can certainly include harsh language on top of that, even if it’s not heartfelt.

As I expressed months ago, I wouldn’t say we even had to feel hatred for him to do that. We could even look at his actions as an inevitable part of his makeup, and feel pity, but that still wouldn’t change the fact that our goal is to keep children from being harmed and, for goal that, we present the pedophile with consequences, to alter his will. He’s harmed (or will be) for the cold reasonable aim of tipping motivation away from harming a victim, a child. No unreasonably fiend needed, right?

Loyalist (with defects) said...

It is easy to place things/ideas/persons into categories which we can label a good or bad, right/wrong, left/right, up/down, yellow/green.

It seems that the problem becomes when we refuse to see any other side. When legitimate and rightful argument can be made we must acknowlege that idea (we don't have to accept it into our lives) but at least give it room to do it's "thing".

What makes me crankiest is when we do not want to accept the consquences of our actions. The action is ours and so is the outcome (favorable or not).

Weighing things out; slow and deliberate; meditating for the answer. These are rational approaches to a sometimes irrational world. No doubt they are necessary and need.

There are times with that is not called for. But like you I don't know where that line (if there is one) is. I'll have to think, ponder and pray on that; then get back with you. ;-)

Loyalist (with defects) said...

I didn't see scot's post as I was writing mine. Clearly he ihas the more intelligent point.

I hereby redact my thoughts and sojoin in the camp of scot on this issue.

Anonymous said...

i was surprised that AAKC didn't didn't dwell on joe's shooting of the german scientist [even in self-defense it seemed over the line]. but perhaps the novelist's picture of obession and isolation needs no further comment, those two factors can push anyone over the line.

Samantha said...

While I understand the personal cost to you, and I also believe my new friend would never have left unless I asked him to do so, personally, I also don't think I could have found the courage to do so without the support lent me by you and others.

If you had just "talked nicely" to him--I'm not sure I would have had the courage to confront him. You did--so I did, too. I'm not sure this makes sense to you, but it makes sense to me. And I'm really grateful for friends like you.