It is truly depressing and pathetic that murder trials have become so heavily reliant on “motivation” as the single most important determinant for a verdict. Did he kill her on accident, or on purpose? Was it spontaneous, or planned? Was he mentally ill, or sane?
When motivation is a consideration in the courtroom, and even more so when it is the most crucial consideration, the courtroom is reduced to a competition of actors, with the prosecution team claiming the defendant is an evil, cruel, hateful criminal that willfully planned out the brutal murder, and the defense team insisting that the defendant was a poor victim of circumstance, wrong place at the wrong time, unable to adapt properly to a traumatic situation, and often some kind of appeal to mental illness or extenuating circumstances.
Both sides exaggerate and distort the facts, both sides are heavily biased towards their interpretation of the events, but most crucially, neither of them have any idea what the motivations of the defendant really were, nor does the defendant necessarily even understand his own motivations. It’s all an act, the theatrical portrayal of hypothetical scenarios masquerading as evidence-backed facts. This kind of nonsense distorts the justice system more than any other factor. Who can put on the most convincing performance becomes the deciding factor of a verdict, with the facts of the matter being relegated to a secondary concern.
But even setting aside the evidence and the theatre, there’s another, perhaps bigger problem that is not even recognized as a problem: that killing is killing, rape is rape, theft is theft, suffering is suffering, regardless of the motivations. The concern with the motivation of the one committing the crime, their character, condition, abilities/disabilities, etc., is considered a core determinant of any judgments on whether they were justified in committing the crimes they did.
If a man steals for his children (or claims to), all of a sudden we sympathize with him. If a neighborhood watchman kills a young man because he feels threatened by him, all of a sudden we defend him and say “he had a right to kill him because of a credible threat to his life”. We emotionally identify either with the victim or the perpetrator in this fashion, believing that somehow, justice is contingent on motivation. Forget that we don’t know their motivations, and are just speculating based on hypothetical scenarios. Forget that regardless of his motivation, The store manager still took losses, and Trayvon Martin is still dead. They had their hearts in the right place, right?
You know what, suppose I agree with you. That would mean that, in all probability, all the major genocides, the Holocaust, not to mention virtually all wars in the world, were justified. Hitler wanted to save the German nation from the Jews and communists, and build a homeland and future for the German people. Stalin wanted to give Russia a great legacy that the world would never forget. Mao wanted to transform China into the most productive and ideal civilization. Even serial killers had good intentions, with Charles Manson wanting to wake up the world to how evil it had become, and Bundy wanting to fully savor the experience of the anatomy of beautiful young women.
There isn’t a single evil or wretched person out there who didn’t have some kind of good intentions, or tried to do the right thing, or wasn’t somehow the victim of circumstances, mentally ill, maladaptive, “at the wrong place at the wrong time”, traumatized, etc. We can prescribe a motivation to vindicate any crime in the book, which really goes to show how absurd it is that courts still place so much value in such a speculative and unreliable criterion. Introspection hasn’t been considered a real science for over a century now, so why does the law continue to put it on a pedestal. We’re not mind readers, we’re not fortune tellers, and even if we were, it doesn’t make the raped any less traumatized, the burglarized any less poor, or the deceased any less dead.
While there are many obstacles to success in life, never have I had to deal with one more challenging than time. There’s never enough time to do what I need, much less what I want to do in life. There’s got to be hundreds of things that I could be doing right now, yet I have to choose among that myriad of opportunities a select few, and I can never be satisfied with my choices regardless of what they are. No matter what, I need to sacrifice something, which is particularly frustrating because I don’t want to give up anything.
Time management helps, and establishing clear priorities and structure are good as well. But I know that such an approach has the bittersweet side-effect of limiting what I am able to do, in order to more effectively do a few things excellently. If I were to constrain myself to a few things, like say 5-10, and discipline myself to focus only on these tasks, I would likely get a lot more accomplished that I have so far. But at the same time, I know I’m going to feel twinges of regret as I realize just how much opportunities I gave up to fully realize a select few.
I know that to be successful, it is absolutely for me to give up the plethora of daily activities I indulge myself in to properly optimize my time to truly excel in everything I do. But, being unwilling to give up anything to excel in life, I have compromised on everything, becoming a “jack of all trades, master of none”. This is an even more unsavory situation, since for all my good intentions, my unwillingness to commit to anything in life has produced a well-rounded mediocrity.
Perhaps even a mediocre life by my standards is a life of excellence by the standards of many. But I know better than to judge the quality of my life by comparing it to others- we each have our own individual potential, and it is our responsibility to live life to the fullest. For me to settle for individual mediocrity merely because the rest of the world deems such a life to be “good enough” is not only a waste of potential, but a self-betrayal. I can be so much more than this, yet I am not. This is a tragedy, and cannot be justifiably tolerated.
This may well be just an empty promise, a sincere but unrealistic resolve to correct chronic flaws in my character, thereby finally living life to my potential. But even if such a commitment has no substance in my present state, I am confident that as I continue to mature and build character, it won’t be too long before I am the person I need to be to finally follow-through and realize the potential I have been blessed to be born with!
As most people who know me realize, I have a strong distaste for responsibility. But it’s not as though I hate responsibility or don’t see any merit to it, it’s more an issue of freedom- you see, I’ve found that the more responsible I become with my life, the more limited I become with what I can do with it. I hate being limited, so I tend to avoid responsibility as if it were a great evil, because up until now, I’ve seen the “responsible life” as the death of my youth, vitality, and individual freedom. So long as I’m irresponsible, I’m not tied down to any particular direction, and I’m not limited to any given values or priorities. I can do what I want freely and without limitation or structure.
But while this might work well for one who has not found values to embrace, people to love, a future to build on, and indeed I met this criteria perfectly for most of my life, I have come to a point where I have found someone to love and live for, I must embrace the values necessary for her to be happy, and for us to be happy together- and for us to be together, it is necessary to forge a future for us, and build on that foundation until our happiness is complete.
The principle merits of responsible living deal with love, and with building relationships, families, futures, societies on. Whereas freedom is necessary for creativity to spring forth, responsibility is necessary for what is created to be appreciated. It’s one thing to create something wonderful, beautiful, amazing– but to make that something productive, appreciable, real— it requires some degree of responsibility, in order that mere expression can be honed and refined into art. Responsibility is the proactive structuring, standardizing, planning, and ritualizing of reality that makes self-actualization possible.
Normally, I tend to do and say everything without thinking, wishing to communicate my raw, unfiltered self without being biased by the real or perceived consequences or my words and actions. While this has worked well when I had nothing and no one to live for, It has become increasingly important (to my surprise) as I find my unfiltered expression threatening the health of my relationships, and particularly that of my love. To preserve the well-being of the values and people I care for, Carefully deciding what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to, must become an important consideration for me.
Prior to my engagement to be married, it didn’t matter how much money I made, or the stability of my income, because I knew I would always find a way to subsist regardless. I’ve been homeless, and lived off of food bank food and soup kitchens, and know how to survive regardless of the circumstances. But now that I have a future wife to support and care for, and ensure her happiness and well-being, things have become a lot more complicated. In the interests of our life together, I need to become financially responsible, get a stable job with enough income for us to live comfortably, learn to budget money reasonably and consistently, and invest my income conservatively and efficiently.
Whereas before I was content with a rather random lifestyle, only doing hygiene, cleaning my room, or caring about my dress when I felt like it, I have recently realized how vital it is for me to live my daily life structured, clean, and disciplined. In order to ensure a healthy equilibrium for our married life, and particularly for our future kids, it is necessary for me to live life more “civilized” and with more self-respect than I’m accustomed to.
Finally, responsibility has become essential for me because without it, I would take the people I love for granted, even the one I love most. When life is a chaotic mess of liberation, sure there’s a lot of options to choose from, and everything feels so much more colorful, open-ended and free, but it’s difficult to focus and appreciate any of it, or to realize the things and people you care about most. When you limit your range of focus through responsible living, it allows you to zero in on the things, people, and values that really matter to you- that’s the real beauty of responsibility!
I criticize religion in general, because it is a system of servitude, either willful (conversion), through family upbringing (indoctrination), or cultural (brainwashing). Moral values and spiritual pathways/beliefs are a wonderful thing, religion is a hateful system that turns wonderful truths into terrible perversions of those truths, exploited by those in power to control the masses.
That being said, even though I might find religion to be an awful, disgusting thing, I respect the opinions of those that adhere to it, and seek to achieve an understanding with them despite any barriers of belief there might be between us.
I think it is good for one to be convicted in their spiritual beliefs/values/etc., what I am against (and thus criticize) is the forced consolidation of beliefs in the form of religion, which is at the core the statism of spirituality. Those who are supportive of libertarian values should understand my disgust of religious institutions on that basis alone.
I understand peoples’ choice to consolidate their beliefs into a larger body of like-minded individuals; so long as they don’t mind the dogma, doctrine, and patriarchy it comes with. But I believe that one should not have to conform to a religion to benefit from the spirituality/relationships/etc. it entails, not any more than one should have to go to college to gain the recognition of being well-educated.
However, such an idealistic way of thinking isn’t particularly practical in an institution-driven world, so I can understand why conformance to religion is natural for so many people.
Debating the motivations and moral justifications of war, and its relationship to society and human nature
(Extracted from a debate thread with Angel Suri)
My original post (for context):
I regularly post anti-war content on Facebook, Google+, twitter, and my blogs, I am always talking to my friends and family about how stupid and unjustified the wars American, Israel, and Palestinian countries are fighting are, and I sign petitions and support politicians committed to bring an end to America’s policing the world and building this unsustainable American empire.
I’m a diehard pacifist and debate with people all the time about the problems with war, and convince people all the time that after stripping away all the FUD and propaganda, all of these wars we’re fight are completely unjustifiable.
What have YOU done to oppose the warmongering in America and in the world?
Opening comments by Angel Suri:
LIKE DRUGS AND GAMBLING: War gives men a justifiable excuse to commit suicide or practice aggression… War is the seeking of pleasure or the justification of an ideal… War like all human experience has a value in that it seeks an end or adds meaning for it has both effect and value to those who engage in it and is seen as absurd by those who abstain… Why would you deny man his natural inclination to kill and die and seek pleasure or ideals in a pragmatic way? It is the way he seeks these things that you object to not that a man or a collection of men seek these things… Would you have us all play chess or some other form of competition and power satiating substitutes for pleasure in risk? Your ideals have no greater value than that of another man or collection of men. Your distaste is all you speak of, a contrary ideal, a different collection of men who share your proclivity for peace. Peace has value only insomuch that it allows another war to break out eventually. Peace is a respite for the men of war to show the men of peace that virility in life can still be had and that the will to power is not an effete thing to be hidden away through living a life of the mind alone. War is evil to the pacifist because it is foreign to their nature and cannot be understood as “just something else to do to pass the time.” Pass the time in judgement against or pick up a gun or a needle or a set of dice, but do not spend time in meaningless argumentation about human nature.
War is sanctioned through cooperation of the many (or the powerful few) who agree and not some random act by some lunatic without social value. The only similarity to what you propose is the component of violence and benefit. Otherwise several lunatics are required to start and enact a war. some semblance of sanity is needed to do this successfully. i speak of sane things that by a pacifist is seen as insane ideology. But then again i think a man taking vows of silence and renouncing all pleasure for a life of contemplation is equally insane as what you propose for they accomplish the same thing. You do not need to value war, only understand that there are those that do, and that you have no right or any moral justification to value peace over war where they are concerned. For there are many moralities but there is no Morality. in other words people are going to do whatever the hell they want because they can and there’s not a damned thing you can do to stop them from using their power.
That isn’t to say I think war is ever justified (it isn’t), but this is the best justification I have been able to come up with, as it is rational and universal. The problem of course, is that it involves slaughtering millions to satisfy one’s own Ego, which is by definition psychopathic. So yes, there is technically a rational motivation for war, but there is no *morally* justifiable reason for war, other than perhaps self-righteous causes, which are in reality perversions of religious values and moral virtues.
You also speak as if men are animals who are slaves to their cravings, that they cannot help but desire violence, death, conflict, and vice. While this is the case with many men, I believe most men have transcended these cravings, or at least learned to control them. Society would not function if we could not control our cravings and destructive desires, after all. So the fact that society continues to function, despite mankind’s destructive desires, is the biggest evidence that no, there is no need for such destructive activities; war is not justified anymore than violence or murder is justified in mainstream society.
The argument that there can only be peace if there is war is an interesting one, but about as rationally sound as saying “there is only more trees cut down if there is more trees standing. You can see the flaw clearly in that analogy- while peace may only be *appreciated* by man if there is *some* war by which to contrast it, there is no necessity for there to be a great deal of war, as there is now. As war is a destructive and savage activity, it should be avoided whenever possible, and treated only as a last resort to *save* lives (i.e. the Holocaust).
“Would you have us all play chess or some other form of competition and power satiating substitutes for pleasure in risk?”
If it meant the bloodshed would stop/be decreased, or that conflict and killing would be minimized? of course I would, and any decent person would agree with me. Incidentally, we have plenty of video games and nonlethal sports that permit people to vent their destructive desires, so there’s no real excuse for men to need to *actually* kill their fellow man just to satisfy their destructive drives.
“do not spend time in meaningless argumentation about human nature.” How it is meaningless? These are very important issues to address, and the amount of war in the world has decreased a great deal due to efforts by people like myself in informing the public, drawing attention to these issues, and providing solutions to neutralize the causes of war and its underlying drives.
“Otherwise several lunatics are required to start and enact a war. some semblance of sanity is needed to do this successfully. ” No actually, there are many mental disorders in which people are warlike and violent, and very intelligent and clever in their planning of things, even for very long term goals, and they are very rational in their motivations. The most common of these mental illnesses are psychopathy and sociopathy. So on the contrary, warmongering by lunatic elites is very possible, and actually the most plausible reason for why there is so much war in the world despite the level of technology and civilization the world has attained.
“you have no right or any moral justification to value peace over war where they are concerned. For there are many moralities but there is no Morality”
On the contrary, that there are many moralities is precisely why I have a right to my own moral justification to value peace over war. values are how we interpret reality- I interpret reality according to the desires of my heart.
Man is aggressive and needs an outlet for this tendency and so he sanctions war as the way because football, boxing, and mma just don’t do it for some. All the discussion in the world can’t stop a man from justifying whatever activity he thinks will benefit him. We are perverse by nature at times. War is a perverse pleasure. So men will justify perversity. It’s a societal thing as old as society itself. We are Sparta… It’s an ideology rich in history and tradition. It is a gruesome thing this humanity. Would we prefer it were otherwise if we could play God? Sure why not have world peace instead? But we are in fact doing as biology and society have urged… and we like the urge… not me per se… for of course we can resist our urges and go contrary to our tendencies… or we could allow some yahoos to get together and kill each other to satisfy their urges instead (i only blow things up with my mind and avoid physical combat, but I try to justify the human experience whenever possible so that life doesn’t seem so absurd)
I don’t know why you think war is a societal thing (especially considering that the more advanced a civilization is, the less war and conflict they tend to have), though even in advanced civilizations, an immature society has more difficulty resisting its perverse impulses, so war, conflict, and other perversions continue to run rampant. To eliminate these vices, we need to build a more mature and virtuous society.
“But we are in fact doing as biology and society have urged” other than this being the appeal to nature fallacy (seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature) society is inherently at odds with biology, as evidenced by the fact that despite the biological drive to do so, we are not raping, pillaging, killing, and taking whatever we want. We live civilized, despite our biologically animalistic nature.
We certainly can do as you suggest and become more civilized… but yet some choose war… and not because we are uneducated about it. and how is war not a societal thing? it is clear a societal function…
Time does exist, otherwise man could not have invented a means to measure time. But the measurement of time isn’t real- seconds, minutes, years, days– they might be based on the cycles of the earth, sun, moon, etc.– but they don’t have any real existence. When I use the word ‘time’, it is in the nonlinear sense. Time is basically a collection of data points that divide the patterns of the universe into different states of emanation.
Change can be appreciated through time, because when you “jump” to a different data point (a “moment”, what I refer to as a “ripple”), then you appreciate something has changed. Time exists outside of change; even if there was no change, there would still be time, but time guarantees there will be change, by providing the data points by which to emanate too. If you are water, and there are holes in the ground to flow through, do you think that there is anything stopping you from “changing” by flowing into that hole (data point).
Time doesn’t exist “in reality”, because existence came about as a byproduct of time and space synthesizing as creation. Time doesn’t choose what it exists for; rather, time is a bunch of holes in the void that matter flows through. When matter flows through time, creation manifests. In this way, time both exists and doesn’t exist.
Confused about the difference between dominance and submission when it comes to kissing/sex? Here’s the breakdown:
1. Initiating the expression (kissing/touching/sex)
2. Usually being on top/above the submissive
3. Doing most of the “work”
4. In charge of deciding what positions to do
5. Is their responsibility to use their power to pleasure the submissive
6. They require the most trust in sex, because they have power whereas the submissive is vulnerable, and having to rely on the dominant to do almost everything, and to not hurt them or displeasure them
1. Receiving/appreciating the expression (kissing back/touching back/enjoying the sex)
2. Usually being on bottom/below the submissive
3. Is doing almost nothing, just relaxing and enjoying the experience
4. Doesn’t make any of the decisions, relies on the dominant to decide everything in the expression for them
5. Is their responsibility to be responsive in their bodies, and show and tell the dominant what they like and what is pleasurable to them, to communicate their sexual needs, and to suggest things
6. They must trust the dominant one completely, because they are giving all the power to the dominant, leaving them completely vulnerable, trusting them to pleasure them and do what they like, and not hurt them
Now you know!