Worlds & Time

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Inevitability & Contradiction

Bill "Gambling is moral" Bennett was on the Daily Show a couple months back, and he pretty much admitted that gay marriage was on it's way to America at large.

It reminded me of the time that Jon Stewart bitch slapped Tucker Carlson on Crossfire a little bit, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It wasn't perfect, but it was still a nice thing to see. Further, I agree with him. Gay marriage is inevitable, I think. Our constitution simply doesn't support it.

I was reminded of this a few days ago when someone on CF asked me for a definition of evil, and my response was something to the effect of "Acting against the interest of others, and the society."

Now, I think that this is a simple way to phrase a complex moral problem. It's true that it does need some explanation though, and that's where I begin to have problems explaining what I mean by "interest of others" and "interest of society."

This is just a sounding board, not really a finished thought, so constructive comments are welcome.

"Interest of others" is about the way we interact with the people around us. Helping someone with a blown tire on the side of the road when it's raining is good. Stealing from someone is bad. It's often about giving people what they want, but not always. There's also a huge section of acting in someone's best interest that has to do with "character," or, as most people would say, not getting your way.

Not giving a pound of candy to an 11 year old is acting in their best interest. Stealing the keys from a drunk man before he can drive is acting in his best interest. Enforcing a curfew for a 16 year old is probably also in someone's best interest.

Some people though don't really understand what these things are or not. Prohibiting gay people from marrying isn't in their best interests.

Society, in the context of this little thought experiment (and in the world at large, the more that I think about it) exists to support the best interests of the individuals that belong to it. The foundational words are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That's why murder is a crime in the U.S.A., because it infringes on an individuals right to pursue his own brand of happiness.

This is why I don't completely understand speed limits, the war on drugs, or the war in Iraq. Those all seem like things that are in the best interest of the government, without being part of the best interest of individuals living whatever life they choose to live.

Gay marriage is another thing that it seems contradictory to that whole "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness thing." It's like people haven't really thought to much about why they're banning it, or if they have thought about it, they think that we live in a theocracy. (Soce would disagree, I think.)

Anyway, thinking about my definition of evil, I realized that one of the things that I consider evil is fostering division. Whether it be racial, economic or even access to education, any attempt to divide off one part of society from another part of society is not the way that things are supposed to be. I'm not talking about Communism, I'm talking about tolerance, acceptance, and equality.

So, all those people on CF that want to divide the True Christians (tm) from those that they consider "Christians in name only" suddenly shifted from having a different point of view to evil. Granted, I've believed that the homophobic bigots have been evil for a while, but those that want to divide cover a lot more people than those that want gay people to go back in the closet and lock the door (not really, but they're more vocal about it).

Don't think that I don't see the contradiction there though. As soon as you start calling people good and evil, thats a separation, and I think that I've already decided that separations are bad.

I haven't managed to work through this contradition though. I'm not sure how I can reconcile the belief in evil people without acknowledging that I'm evil. Should I drop the whole clause, or should I qualify? Perhaps that's the point. Perhaps, unless you love everyone (and their "evil") then it's impossible to be "good."

At some point though, I just remind myself that it's all relative anyway, and I'll figure it out. And I will. I just haven't yet.

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