Many of my latest blogs have been my views and opinions on big topics. Examining other peoples blogs and thoughts on these important topics I always wonder how they approached the problem to arrive at that point of view. If I wonder things like that I can only assume people might think the same about me. So here I attempt to answer the question of my philosophical approach to everything.
#1 People are good.
The vast majority of people are good willed and good intentioned. People want to live good lives, take care of themselves, help people when they can, and not hurt others. This may seem obvious and most people I say this to take a moment to contemplate it before agreeing with me. But this simple statement that people are good is the most important piece of life I have figured out and can be one of the hardest things to hold on to when confronted with someone on the extreme other side of an issue than you.
#2 Everyone is right to themselves
If Bob believes that it is immoral to hunt deer and Larry believes that killing a deer is an essential right of manhood, who is wrong? Bob does not express it’s immoral and secretly knows it is not. Larry doesn’t think he is going to hell for shooting a deer. Understanding that the other believes he is morally right and not dismissing him as a lunatic lessons the hate and anger that can boil over into something that is really evil.
This can be seen all to well in the abortion debate. Pro-choice individuals believe in the rights of women over their own bodies and that there are very moral reasons for having one. Pro-life individuals believe that abortion is murder of the most innocent and precious life on earth and must be protected. They both have valid points of view. Calling each other evil or stupid does nothing but add fuel to the fire.
#3 The world is grey.
The world is not black and white, right or wrong, the world is a lot more than fifty shades of grey. Decisions are not made in a vacuum No choice is perfectly good. Every choice made can have good repercussions and bad ones. Combine this with the previous point and you get a multitude of decisions over one choice.
Taking the stairs vs riding the elevator can be approached many different ways. For health reasons may lead Sam to take the stairs while Pam takes the elevator for health reasons too. Pam may have a sprained ankle and doesn’t want to strain it. Sue may take the stairs with her bad leg to strengthen it. John may have a competition later so saves his effort. Frank is sick and takes the elevator Erin takes the stairs while sick so she doesn’t spread her germs.
In every example you can say that the decision was made for health reasons even though every persons situation and interpretation of the situation was different. There is never a perfect answer.
#4 One action does not a person make.
Is Joe evil if he stole a car? Is Joe good if he saved someone from drowning? If it’s the same Joe what is he? You can’t conclude the overall goodness or evilness of a person. You can only conclude the action that a person took is good or bad. This holds true for organizations too. Is the Vatican evil for hiding child abuse? The act of hiding child abuse is evil no matter who you are. To conclude that every aspect of the Vatican is evil by saying “The Vatican is Evil.” is a wrong assumption.
#5 There is a reason for everything
Every word has thought behind it. Every product has a consumer. Every sound has a source. Each breath you take is to provide oxygen to your lungs. It may have nothing to do with you and you may never know why but that guy gave you a funny look for some reason. Knowing that there is a purpose to stealing cars does not excuse the act but understanding why the cars were stolen can lead to less cars being stolen. Maybe it was freezing out and the cars were left running with the keys in it. The 14 year old drove the cars to school to stay warm. (True Story) Once it was known what the cause was it was easy to prevent it from happening again. Teach the kid a lesson and lock the doors of your car.
#6. Actions Have Consequences
Call it karma, call it Newton’s 3rd law, Call it justice. While there are reasons and good intentions with every action, every action has unforeseeable consequences. Knowing that consequences are inevitable and unpredictable makes the actions you take meaningful. Someone who quits a job should accept the fact that they may not get another job the next day, or week, or month. This makes the choice to act as important as the action. The choice should be informed and thoughtful. But don’t let the decision paralyze you. If you took an informed and thoughtful action you can stand behind it with your head high.
On the actions of others, they should be able to deal with the consequences of their actions. You should feel no apprehension on calling someone out for their actions and asking why. Why did you drive drunk? Why did you quit your job? Why did you donate to that cause? The answer of “I don’t know.” means that they don’t want you to know or that they didn’t take the time to consider the consequences.
I consider carefully my words when writing here. I realize that they may have consequences. I accept that someone may read these words and judge me. I use the alias TshirtToby just so my full name is plastered here. So that this isn’t the first thing in a Google search. If I made a living doing this it would be different. My name is out there and attached to this but I still made the choice not to plaster it here. I stand by my words and accept the consequences of them.
I look at these points and they seam so simple. I am open to hearing arguments against any of them but these are the roots of every serious position and decision I make. They are so much a part of me that I call them truths. With these truths as my backbone I make arguments for issues and report events. It also allows for different definitions of good and evil. Morals are different for everyone.
I need to add one axiom to this. Words I first heard in the movie With Honors and written in “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
“You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, not look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the specters in books. You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, you shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.”
It is hard not to be lazy and just accept what others interpret the world to mean, for the answers to be handed to you by others. Free thinking is our greatest gift. Without it there would be no Newton, Galileo, Aristotle, Einstein, or Gutenburg. Heck I wouldn’t be writing these words if I didn’t have the free will of thought. Use it.
The next post will explain how I use these truths to formulate opinions, find solutions, and attempt to persuade people to my way of thinking. Also how making the argument strengthens the argument. If you have any thoughts on this please do share here or with me on Twitter @TshirtToby.