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Right now, in some small town in America, perhaps in Kansas or Iowa, a young father of a beautiful daughter just shot himself in his garage, leaving behind a broken family and unanswered questions.
Where are your tears?
Where are your sympathy blog posts?
Why isn’t your heart open to his tragedy?
WHY WON’T YOU CARE?
Yesterday, a filthy street bum died in the cold night air in a puddle of his own steaming piss and shit.
Why hasn’t he made you feel anything?
Why won’t you immortalize him in eulogy?
“i have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”
– john locke
You say: “But I didn’t know the man in Kansas or the street bum! Why would I feel anything for someone I don’t know?”
P r e c i s e l y.
You didn’t know Heath Ledger, either. All you knew was his manufactured screen presence. And you cultivated a false relationship based on that. Fact: You were completely invisible to him. HEATH LEDGER DID NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU. Yet you cared. You poured out your heart for him in a way he would not have done for you if the circumstances were reversed. You felt this way because he played roles that “spoke to you” or “touched you”. There was a sensitivity in his eyes that made you feel a “connection”. You experienced good feelings when you watched his movies. Maybe your loins tingled.
That is why you care. Because Ledger brought VALUE in the form of emotional pleasure to your life. He was BETTER than the average human because he was more VALUABLE, and therefore inspired you to feel sadness for his death. We care for those who are worth something. Which leads us inevitably to:
Maxim #3: Some human beings are worth more than others, despite their equality under the law.
Let me tell you how our concentric circles of morality are arranged.
In the small inner circle, we feel the most moral regard for lovers and immediate family.
Followed by close friends.
Then extended family.
And in the distant outer circle, our countrymen.
Substitute “race”, “ethnic religion” or “ideological allies” for “countrymen” if you are feeling especially cynical.
Beyond that outer ring of sympathy I wouldn’t shed a tear for anyone’s misfortune. A hundred thousand tsunami victims floating on the seas like bloated balloons of waterlogged flesh will not perturb me from syncing my ipod. And neither will they perturb you. Or to put it another way, try the following thought experiment:
If you had the power in your hands, would you kill in such a manner as to ensure maximum pain and suffering
a. 10,000 Indonesians if it would save your lover’s life?
b. your lover if it would save 10,000 Indonesians’ lives?
In a worldwide conflagration where the existence of civilization is threatened watch how quickly the conventional morality falls apart. And how much quicker the moral shakeout is justified.
Morality = genetic affinity + expedience + quid pro quo + self-serving status posturing
This is morality defined. Examine your actions over the course of your life and you will see I am right.