Left and right and wrong

One feature in our decline as a relatively cohesive society is that everyone thinks "their" solutions are the "right" solutions - so naturally those who don't agree must be wrong. There have been major situations around the world in recent times where "winning" is being on a 51% side - making the 49% side "losers". Half of us are winners and half are losers?

An obvious example:Trump. Brash and inconsistent and ... need I say more? But we can't judge everything a person does by the reaction to most of the publicity we hear about them. I learned that from a local case. Trump does, in the midst of all his words, get some things right - but they are often not heard because of how he's seen. When talking about the abysmal happenings when the far right targeted marchers, he had a kernel of truth, but the predominant bias the media has for the left and it has been largely ignored.

I haven't been able to ascertain exactly what happened - doubt I ever would. It's hard to know who to believe, but there are at least four sides to this. The largest two are those largely on the left, and those largely on the right. Protests and marches are a way of expressing their outrage. But there are two smaller and more disturbing groups (often mixed up with them) - the "alt-right" and antifa in the case of Charlottesville, although others favour alt-left as a more general term, going beyond the US.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (Evelyn Beatrice Hall) has long been a lynch pin of a free society, but these days some believe that "hate speech" should not be included in that. The problem is, who defines what is hate speech? It seems that is a never ending argument, changing as society changes. This seems eerily similar to "four legs good, two legs bad" becoming "four legs good, two legs better". The current restrictions on searches imposed by Google could be seen as largely good - but we know from history nothing stays as it starts.

George Santayana said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It seems we are fast approaching further evidence of that - except that most of those who cannot remember the past have never leaned about it.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/evelynbeat109645.html
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/evelynbeat109645.html
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/evelynbeat109645.html

Worse we all tend to mix with those holding largely the same views as us - which reinforces the idea that "everyone" shares our views. Those holding different views are seen as ignorant / selfish / unjust / .... or worse. This is despite the fact that they may indeed be among the decreasing minority capable of remembering lessons from the past.

For us all to be better off (not just financially) the only way for all to win is to work for benefit of all, while rewarding those whose contribution is exceptional. Sadly it's also long been recognised that people will usually take a personal gain irrespective of the cost of others. In particular this applies to money (in the broadest sense), sex and power.

Our thinking often gets mixed up between morality and legality. Just because something is legal doesn't make it make it moral - and vice versa. Logic is a scarce resource these days. Emotion is often used in arguments because people don't know or understand facts (as seen in "alternative facts") and logic. We can't legislate personal morality (not without considerable angst as what is accepted as moral changes over time) - but where do we draw the limit?

At first I thought this was fairly simple - as long is it didn't harm anyone else it shouldn't involve the law. But clearly it's not that simple. Definitions of what is a person change (Hitler, genocide, medical science, abortion). Definitions of what is harm change (e.g. harm to people's minds by "propaganda" which clearly depends on your definition of propaganda). As Orwell showed in Animal Farm, the way words are used and changed is a dangerous tool.

I watched a documentary about an American case. A woman was crippled - unable to do anything for herself. The most response she gave was a definite smile when her mother was with her. Eventually her husband moved from being supportive to wanting to move on. Despite her familly's objections, the court ruled he has the right to get the place where she was cared for to starve her to death by not feeding her.

Society has already dehumanised unborn babies - and moves are afoot in some areas to allow babies born with medical conditions to be killed. This case was another situation where the right to life was overridden by other factors. The situation was tragic - and difficult for all involved. The accident that paralysed the woman was awful. No-one wants that for anyone. But denying her the right to food when she could not feed herslf was a bigger tragedy.

Even saying we are all be equal isn't straightforward - cultures have different values on gender / religion / etc. It's always intrigued me that "Western" countries are criticised by the UN (or UN agencies) for basic human rights issues which are ignored by part of the world.

Equal doesn't mean we should automatically all have the same resources and finances - Jesus said these will always be poor among us. However none should be "really poor" - although defining what that means is yet another area of disagreement. Welfare dependency which has created a sense of entitlement. Welfare without contribution (according to one's abilities) is not healthy. Sadly "contribution" is largely defined in terms of commercial activity.

Jim Bolger (in a 2017 interview) makes sense when he says the lurch to the right hasn't helped. But the "help" promoted by the left has created a state-dependent mindset - hardly a raging success.

One of the key reasons politicians have lost their appeal for most people is that we know that in arguments, there are good points on both sides In fact there are more "sides" than "them and us". As long as we persist in winners having the final say, we will never get the best outcome.

We'll never get complete agreement - but by getting a larger consensus we'll have a larger buy-in - and fewer who stay on the edges of society. Sadly this view is not promoted by those in power - not by the media who thrive on conflict.

Like all items on this site, there are issues I've yet to consider. But I summarise it by saying we are all unique (even with billions of us) and special. Each person is capable of teaching us something. Disagreement is not a sign of superiority but of diversity.


Last Modified

Last modified: 28 November 2020.