Is unfairness an affront to reason?
Google defines fair as: “in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.” Just is defined as: “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.” So the former word is more about rules and standards and the latter about morality. The word, morality, in this context implies universality while rules and standards suggest a sport or game. As a psychopath, I am sometimes shocked at how much a specific example of injustice can bother me. Fellow blogger, James, wrote A psychopath’s take on morality, sorting out morality or ethics, this thing that seems to occupy so much of the lives of those living in any society, in other words, everyone. For many people, “morality” is whatever tradition says it is. For these people, rules and morality are the same thing. If a girl breaks the rules by getting pregnant out of wedlock, she has behaved “immorally.” Psychopaths tend to think more logically (not that only psychopaths are logical). We are more likely to work out our own idea of what is right and wrong by applying universal standards then appealing to religion or tradition.
As James pointed out, murder is the most universally condemned act. However, “murder” doesn’t apply to killing in battle or even court appointed executions. (Some people try to extend the definition of “murder” to include abortion, killing animals and other taking of life. But it seems clear to me that the reason murder is condemned is not the fact that it ends someone’s life but the fact that it is destructive to social cohesion. A society can’t bond very well as a united, functioning institution if people don’t know whether their fellow citizens are apt to kill them at any time. We have rules to make us feel secure in our social unit. The same is true of stealing and other actions that violate our area of safety. As James pointed out, some acts are allowed in some societies under some conditions but not in others. Rape, for example, used to be allowed within marriage but now it is forbidden. As long as the rules are clear and predictable, we feel safe.
The more pluralistic a society, the more complicated and debatable the rules may become. The United States of America is extremely pluralistic and has a complex, often morally confusing history. As a people, we generally condemn genocide. I don’t think this word was used before the Nazi’s were brought to trial for “crimes against humanity.” It means “violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group.” We felt very righteous while Eichmann was being tried for this crime. But our history contains some flagrant examples of the same thing. Our founders practically wiped out the indigenous population to make room for ourselves. “We” also kidnapped and enslaved people from Africa. Slavery has long been a controversial subject, some defending it and others condemning it. The anti-slavery people won. Makes sense since one of the main points of morality upon which the American Republic was founded was that “all men are created equal.”
We have never really had equality in the United States. Defenders of the righteousness of our society say that only “equality of opportunity” is guaranteed by our principles. But we don’t really have that either. It’s generally conceded that our society is become more unequal economically. The 1% is richer than ever and the middle class is daily losing ground. The infamous Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, has compounded economic inequality with political inequality (not that there was ever equality there either) by letting the rich pour as much money as they wanted into political campaigns. We still have one person one vote (supposedly) but the ability to massively advertise for one candidate over another makes the race unequal. Frankly, I don’t understand why voters are so easily influenced by advertising. Can’t they think for themselves? But be that as it may.
We still have a lively discussion of issues, ethical or otherwise, in this country. Black Lives Matter has brought the oppression black people in the US to the fore as an issue that is getting attention. Of course, there was some extreme shit going on before the organization was even founded.
All of the above is only an introduction to the real topic of this blog post. Why would someone without empathy or a conscience care if someone not oneself is being fucked over? Clearly, some things are unfair. What’s it to me if I’m not the victim of the injustice?
As a rational being, I looked to the universe I lived in for order and consistency. What good can logic do in a chaotic universe? I guess one can create one’s own little island of safety in the midst of chaos. One can try to guard it and keep the insanity at bay. To an extent, this is the actual situation. Although even the craziest world has some kind of rational which makes some kind of sense if one knows how it works. I know there is the way the world is supposed to work and the way it really works. We are taught that we live in a fair world. “The policeman is your friend.” I didn’t know if he was or wasn’t because I had had no encounters with one. When I was arrested, it was nothing like I had imagined. Not only were our keepers acting in accordance to an orderly set of rules. They were like thugs. Even so, the news of cops shooting unarmed black people and getting away with it shocked me. It seemed there was a veneer of civilization spread over an abyss of nihilism. Power is the only consistency. Those with power run things no matter how they got the power. They can do whatever they want as long as they appease the ones with more power. And everyone keeps up the facade of a fair, orderly world.
I don’t obey the rules since they only exist to make things look fair when they are not. I present the facade of being part of the “fair,” rule abiding world. I find my islands of sanity within the whirling tides of lunacy. Not everything is based on the cynical use of power. Many people are just oblivious the reality and just go through life with blinders on. They are controlled by the people of power through emotions and sentiment. Their emotions are powerful. You learn to channel them in the right direction and stay out of the way. It’s a very alienating.
Part of me really wants society to be what it pretends to be. I argue about politics, present rational arguments on my Soapbox. I used to be an activist, going to marches and demonstrations, even getting people to the polls. I am burned out on that. I still see people who continue to believe they can change things. I’m impressed with their good intentions and energy. But I don’t see them winning. No matter how absurd things get, nothing ever changes. Today I read about a boy who was arrested in Virginia for taking a container of milk in the lunch room of his school. He is being prosecuted for stealing. He was actually entitled to the milk because he was on a program but facts don’t matter.
There are many more I could talk about but this wasn’t meant to be a political blog. Since I know the score and know better than to expect the world to be fair, why does it still bother me when I see a spectacular proof that it’s not. Because unfairness is a stunning affront to reason, itself. I always felt like I was surrounded by crazy people. I never liked it. I still don’t. I play the hand I was dealt but I don’t have to like it.