Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Something Worth Reading

Maureen McHugh is running a brilliant discussion about the moral order at her blog, A Religion of Sanity. It's fascinating reading. Here are just a few thought-provoking tidbits:
Having nothing to rely on but our private feelings, we misuse our feelings to establish our innocence and to demonize those who oppose us. We move from compassion to sentimentality to cruelty without so much as stopping to take a deep breath. Our goodness rests not in our thoughts (which we claim we can not control) nor in our deeds (which we don't care to control) but simply in the fact that we feel.
After thus brilliantly summarizing everything Gene Roddenberry ever wrote, as well as the entire thesis of modern literature about child development, Ms. McHugh diagnoses every violent criminal, and every cruel person, I have ever known (including myself):
Of course, the major problem with narcissism is that sooner or later, it runs smack up against the real world. In the real world, not everything bends to our instantaneous whim. There are quite arbitrary and very real limits on our power to ‘self-actualize.' Narcissism by its very nature cannot accommodate these limits. Once thwarted, self-loathing becomes an undifferentiated rage. Combined with our failure to develop self-discipline, there is an ominous potential for violence underlying even the smallest exchanges between the self and the not-self.
Now "violence" doesn't just mean "beating someone until blood trickles from his ears." Rather, "violence" in its broadest sense means the infliction of suffering without consent. An insult can be violent, as can calumny, detraction, or even rude driving. Ms. McHugh is wonderfully explaining why our society is as violent as it is -- the weekly serial murders and drive-bys are just the same undifferentiated rage coming to a more prominent head.

Take a look at that series -- Ms. McHugh's on Part 7, which I hope is only 1/3 of the way through the entire essay!


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