The only stupid questions are those unasked!
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Post by dorajar » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:36 am

"To the intelligent man or woman, life appears infinitely mysterious. But the stupid have an answer for every question."--Edward Abbey

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity." --William Butler Yeats

Are you comfy with ambiguity, shades of gray? Do you see things clearly in terms of right and wrong, black and white, or are you a moral relativist? What do you know you would fight for? In what areas do you think you could stand to let a little more softness and compassion into your view?

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Forest and Trees

Post by thrice » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:34 am

One area that I struggle with and frustrates me is human nature. I firmly believe that we are essentially apes with clothing, with the exception that we have the mentality and communication skills to establish social codes and mores that demand we control instinctual behavior into acceptable channels. It frustrates and angers me when I see people exhibiting "subhuman" behavior, yet my mind realizes that someone who has not been trained by their parents to overcome instinct does not fully grasp such "unnatural" restrictions on personal behavior.

Exceptions aside, think about it. An ape will mate whenever and wherever it finds a willing partner. They will clear their digestive system whenever and wherever they get the urge. They will eat whatever acceptable food they find, whether it lies on the ground or in a basket on a peddler's cart. Yes, they will show tenderness, unselfishness, and concern- but generally only for their offspring, or members of their immediate clan- which could certainly be viewed as self-serving behavior for the benefit of their immediate gene pool's survival. An ape in Africa would be incapable of concern for one in the Phillipines, even if they were aware of their existance.

As humans, we have social protocols for sexual behavior, likely rooted in the long nuturing process required for raising of children. Clearly a stable, cooperative relationship between parents is necessary for a species whose young are incapable of self support for an extraordinarily long time for any mammal.

We clearly have protocols for digestive elimination, and standards of modesty and sanitation.

We clearly have protocols for the orderly distribution of resources, and expect that humans display a degree of respect for the property and food of other humans. In most species, the feeding process is entirely selfish in a social setting other than rearing of young. Toss a bunch of bananas among apes, or a steak among a pack of dogs. They will not quietly que up and wait for their fair share. They will fight over it, and grab as much as they can carry for themselves. Even in the most primitive societies, leadership emerges that ensures a certain degree of fairness in the distribution of resources to its members, in order to ensure a healthy colony and reduce social tension.

Yet at times, we have all seen humans violating all of those social protocols. What frustrates me is determining what humans are utterly ignorant of standards of behavior, and which ones know the standards and choose to ignore them. Clearly it's hard to blame someone who was never "socialized", and impossible to "rehabilitate" someone who was never "habilitated" to begin with. Yet even the most ignorant of us can clearly observe how other humans behave, and note that their own behavior is at odds with others. What particularly troubles me is when I see people who clearly had a family background of socialized behavior "devolve" into anti-social behavior. That's obviously a self-indulgent choice, not ignorance.

But the great question is what to do to cure social ignorance, and break the chain of animalistic behavior for the good of the individual, and the society that they live in. Guess that's where I see a huge puzzle in terms of moral relativism, right and wrong, and the need to balance compassion with survival of species and society. In the absence of agreed upon rules, the world is ruled by brutes who do as they please, to whom they please.

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Post by praecorloth » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:13 pm

I like shades of grey in pretty much everything.

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