Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mangled Morality

A man who lives, not by what he loves but what he hates, is a sick man.

Archibald McLeish
(Thank you Bruce)

Freedom gives me the right to punch you in the mouth. That right ends just before the place where your mouth begins. Morality is a complicated subject, confusing and difficult to define, even though some people think they know what it's all about.

Villains don't think they are villains. Mad people generally don't know they are insane, unless they have been observed by a professional who can tell them.

We're all mad to one degree or another, (particularly artists, it seems) it comes with the mantle of humanity. But hate is one of the worst injuries one can do to oneself. I'm paraphrasing a quote from someone who said that if you want to hurt me convince me to hate someone.

Years ago a man was out to kill me for something I did which was admittedly wrong. It was a moment of passionate impulse which I regret. I didn't deserve to die for it, but he didn't see it that way. He could have easily killed me and gotten away with it. I survived because he was stronger than his hatred. And where did that strength come from? From reason, clear thinking and a lot of understanding himself.

Moral actions may happen ignorantly, but they don't come out of cowardice, lack of opportunity, self justification or the force of will power. Those things may prevent an awful result but one must think back from the result to the cause, and the cause is not the action the prompted the hate but the knowledge of what that hate consists.

Wrongs must be righted, that's true. But that doesn't mean the wrongdoer must be destroyed. The dark cloud that shadows a life will pass if allowed to, but it won't if it is fed by hatred and revenge. The sad fact is that sometimes hate dresses up as love. When you hear people speak of "closure," "an eye for an eye," "leveling the field," "teaching a lesson" or "sending a message." the chances are very good that they are talking about revenge. Vengeance will often show up, well dressed, with a smile on its face and an expensive hat covering the snakes that are crawling out of its brain. But vengeance doesn't finish anything, it continues it. Indeed, hatred held in the heart grows until the person harboring it is sick. When it becomes someone's way of life it can be fatal..

The mad man who massacred those police officers in Washington was seeing violent visions, hearing voices and calling himself the Messiah. Was his illness developed to the point of no cure? We'll never know. He died.

Hate, as any negative, destructive emotion, which grips the heart and mind with icy fingers, is a liar. It calls itself yours. It calls itself you. It is a parasite designed to gnaw at all the healthy, loving parts of you until it attacks your vitality, drives you mad and destroys you. That's the history of hatred. Hatred breeds hatred, violence breeds violence, war breeds war. Will we understand that before we destroy ourselves?

A good dose of anger over one injustice or another, now and then, is not a bad thing if it spurs on to a positive result. A sense of humor is even better. Love is the best. But we should examine ourselves and our motivations to find out if there is any hate and, if there is, get rid of it.

Freedom gives me the right to hate you enough to punch you in the mouth. But reason gives me the right and freedom to take that hatred, stuff it into a plastic bag, attach a rock to it and bury it in the swamp from which it came.

DB - The Vagabond


Joann said...

DB, I just got back on this week, but wanted to say that I'm SO Glad to see YOU back!! We sure missed you!!!

Beth said...

I can think of only one person for whom I feel hate. This entry makes me rethink that, and wonder if that isn't giving them more power over me than they deserve to have? Actually, the hate has gradually morphed into a feeling that the person is absurd and pathetic, so maybe I've been letting go of my hatred all along. :)

Hugs, Beth

salemslot9 said...

God forgives most sins
if you repent
He can tell if someone isn't responsible for their actions
you can't fool Him
that's what I believe

Trees said...

Hate takes on many guises and as you says presents itself in so many different ways. I found for myself that what happened to me at my work and the way i was mistreated, definitely made me start to resent some of the people in authority and my anger got to be very great. Counselling helped me to channel that anger and resentment into something more rewarding I found I had some talent in painting (watercolour). It is when you can take the hatred, anger or resentment and put it aside for something more rewarding that it has no place in your life and you know that some day you will be rewarded for your efforts in letting in go and bury it in the swap as you so aptly suggested.

Big Mark 243 said...

Hate is a scourge and when it appears, a person would do well to try to avoid it at all costs. Whenever I fix my mind to admit to that emotion, I ask if I am willing to committ the energy to keeping up the feeling.

Letting go of the hate allows reason to move in and reach a conclusion. Some folks have a warped sense of reason (villians) because they justify their shortcomings by the illogical.

I don't think that Moral actions occur ignorantly, but instinctively. The way to be is finding a harmony with existence, and often is done unconsciously.

The urge to 'hit someone in the mouth' is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make one recognize that something must be done and a choice made.

salemslot9 said...

about your situation...
my first thought:
was a woman involved?
you don't have
to say, of course

Kyle said...

Hate allows you think it is giving you power over something or someone, all the while, it is choking and strangling the humanity, empathy, and compassion out of you.

Terribly insightful post DB.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Great post, and as for the person Beth feels hate for, it is the same one that I have extreme dislike for as well.

Luckily, I am a glass half full type of guy, and I do not get mad, only even, and that will happen of its own accord.