Why Does the World Feel Wrong? “I had assumed that the people who wield power feel similarly about moral issues as I do”

From: Strike the Root

Consider these events:

1. A president who started two aggressive wars, who bears responsibility for the loss of thousands of American lives along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan lives, leaves office as a free man without a felony record or any negative repercussions.

2. Meanwhile, the same populace that has intimate experience with lying politicians appears utterly smitten with a smooth-talking new president promising change and demanding sacrifice.

3. The Congress, which had an approval rate of 14% and which just passed a $700 billion bailout over the objections of a majority of Americans, had a re-election rate exceeding 95%.

4. Untold millions of Americans voice support of military troops as these very people are needlessly killed, injured, and separated from their families and productive work at home.

5. A general populace believed that buying unproductive assets, like housing, could make them wealthy, forever, without any coherent explanation why.

6. Researchers who pursue alternative explanations for AIDS and cancer get their funding cut and have the results of their research squelched, while others who try to improve life by providing healthful foods find themselves under attack.

Overt criminality by leaders and passive, unclear thinking by the proles have become the norm. The two go together, creating a symbiotic ecosystem of tyranny. Fraud, theft, and murder have become widespread, just as the scale of lies told and believed have reached new heights. Irresponsibility has become socialized while people in the honest pursuit of good get thwarted.

Those of us who want little more than peace and freedom don’t run the world. Pursuing freedom contradicts controlling others, so we can reason that people who pursue power have some motivations separate from our own.

I have not fully comprehended the implications of this until recently. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I had assumed that the people who wield power feel similarly about moral issues as I do—I just couldn’t see why they commit and justify unethical behavior. I already knew that states operate according to a code that the rest of us don’t follow in our own lives. Nevertheless, I assumed that a man who acts without regard to moral laws must feel guilty about it. Then, one day, I stumbled onto this idea: Suppose he doesn’t.

With only small ambitions, he probably behaves like a common criminal, a predator. He lies to gain advantage, uses force to get his way, and steals without conscience. Not feeling guilty about unethical behavior motivates him to instigate further criminal acts.

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