“The greatest evils inflicted by man on man over the face of the earth are wrought not by the self seekers, the pleasure lovers, or the merely amoral, but by the fervent devotees of ethical principles, those who are bound body and soul to some larger purpose. the nation, the ‘race,’ the ‘masses,’ the ‘brethren’ whoever they may be.”
R. M. MacIver is defending here the utility of the golden rule against ideologies that command our attention against the bohemian. I defend the bohemian, the pleasure lover, against the ideologies. As much as the ideologies command attention because they are coherent, I deplore them. But they work. It is easier to justify a rule against some behavior if you have a ready made answer against all offenses of a similar type. The trouble is that these justifications forbid the tales research tells.
I admit, I believe empiricism works. Observation is telling when we are supposed to be evaluating a decision. I believe also that the truth, as agent Mulder says, “is out there.” What we do with science is to collect data that will one day point inevitably to that truth. To preempt this natural procedure of knowledge collection because some special interest demands it is to short circuit our rational facilities in favor of some ideology.
This angers me. As much as some beliefs have the potential to connect with the “truth,” there are so many ways that those beliefs can be twisted to serve the purposes of those who would subvert it that I become pessimistic about our ability to free ourselves. Only God himself can fix this.
Unless you think this is a cop out, I challenge anyone to provide reasons for optimism about our ability to fix it ourselves. It is not that I think we can’t, but that it may have to wait for succeeding generations to actually observe the resolution to this debate.
I am under constraint. The future is coming at us all so quickly. Thinking in a linear fashion means that my opinion will be out of date tomorrow. I may yet live to see the future where we give credence to opinions that more closely match the truth than our own. I am not unhappy for this to happen. I swear I will accept the truth of the future when it occurs.
I just don’t know what that will be. I hope, however, that we vote together for freedom rather than ideology.