the politics of humanity + a crisis of purpose (aka a normal week).

I found a thing a couple weeks ago that made me mad. Here it is, reproduced via cut-n-paste.

There a meme going around talking about how “I won’t judge you for who you vote for,” and how ending friendships over political differences is anathema to rational discourse, or the like.

What a load of smarmy, arrogant, and IGNORANT horse shit.

Sure, if our disagreement is over precise tax rates or trade agreements or whatnot, that’s one thing. In that case, I might agree.

But civil rights? The rights of people to get married, or not be shot without cause, or to not have to choose between medicine and food? That’s not “politics.” That’s baseline ethics and morality, and it’s damn skippy going to influence how I view people and who I choose to share my life with.

[sigh]

Okay. I’ve got a lot to unpack here. But I think it can be best summed up if I remind everybody of something very simple:

MORALITY IS SUBJECTIVE.

I am not a moral relativist. But morality is subjective. And this person, ironically, is also being incredibly subjective when discussing what is “politics” and what is “baseline ethics and morality.”

Morality is subjective. Other people’s morals, however, are not my problem, and I will not tell anyone how to form or act upon their morals.

I’ve discussed before how my definition of human rights is very, very different from the common vernacular. Basically, it is this:

-You are entitled to be alive, insofar as you can keep yourself so.*

-You are entitled to the privacy of your own thoughts.

-You are entitled to choose how you will act, both as initiator of anything and in response to any events and encounters generated by the choices of other people, and how you will perceive those actions before, during, and after their occurrence.

That’s it.

*I include this, even though it’s a rather obvious criteria for Being A Human, because these rights can (to my knowledge) remain applicable only so long as you are actually alive. (We’ll see what the afterlife is like.) Therefore, because you must retain the first right to retain the others, even though the actions of other people may rob you of the first without your consent, it remains on my list even though it is a difficult thing to guarantee.

That’s all. Basically, a human right is anything that is inherent in the existence of every human as soon as that human is born. Legal/civil rights are a very different thing, and some of them are not unimportant, but human rights are those which are completely and irrevocably a part of the existence of every human, which cannot be taken away once given (except upon death) and – and this is important – are not externally created or enforced. They belong to the human, they are of the human. They are not of the human’s government or society.

That’s what I mean by human rights. To steal the illustrious wording of Thomas Jefferson, “Certain unalienable rights.”

Anyway, my problem with the author of the cut-n-pasted material is the assumptions therein, which I articulate in my own words as follows:

  1. Everyone should have the same ideas about what constitutes rights as I [the author of this material] do.
  2. The rights which I believe are necessary are not up for political debate.
  3. The methods with which people are provided with the benefits inherent in these rights are not up for political debate.

All of which I have a problem with.

  1. The idea that everyone in the world should think the same way you do is toxic and terrifying, and frankly sounds vaguely nationalistic.
  2. The rights (to use your definition thereof) which you need may not be the same as other people need, and therefore should definitely be up for debate and discussion by the people who may (a) need them and (b) pay for them.
  3. The methods which are most convenient for you may not be most convenient for everyone, and therefore should definitely be up for debate and discussion by the people who may (a) benefit from them, (b) pay for them and (c) be affected by the implementation of those methods in our society.

I’ll say it again: The idea that everyone in the world should think the same way you do is toxic and terrifying, and frankly sounds vaguely nationalistic. Discourse and disagreement are important because if you begin to think that everyone does or should agree with you, you lose your capacity to perceive human diversity of opinion, experience and perception, but also because if you begin to see an In-Group, you will begin to see an Out-Group, and then you get into messy stuff where other human beings are not real or valid to you. Which, I may add, is not within your stated human rights.

Not to mention, you who believe you can and should inform the specifics of other people’s morality are infringing their human right to the privacy of their own thoughts and the choices which control their actions. You do not get to decide how other people live their lives. Ever.*

*I make an exception for the parents of children, who by virtue of supporting and giving actual life to, you are somewhat entitled to mold and shape (or indoctrinate, if you prefer) to your liking. For the sake of this discussion, however, people refers to legal adults who are capable of being personally independent.

As you say, Anonymous Author, “it’s damn skippy going to influence how I view people.” That’s your right (see right #2). “And who I choose to share my life with.” That’s also your right (see right #3). Also, *whom.

I’ll refer you to why i am conservative for a deeper dive into this, but assumption #3 grinds my gears most of all.

It’s arguable that countries form precisely because people agree what their government should consist of, do and provide. So let’s assume that we in the US do in fact agree on what the government should do for its citizens. To simplify the example, we’ll tackle one (if broad) issue: healthcare.

(Disclaimer: I do not believe the government should be involved at all in the process of providing healthcare to people. Note that this is different from believing that sick people should be denied medicine, or forced to choose between spending on medicine and food. A key misunderstanding between liberals and conservatives. I digress. Moving on.)

Let’s suppose this country is formed with, among other things, the expectation that the government will provide healthcare to us, its citizens.

Okay. How will the government do that? Will doctors be chosen by the government? Does that mean the government funds medical schools now? Or do all medical schools provide their own funding despite the fact that their graduates are destined to become government employees? Who will build and equip healthcare facilities? Who will decide the placement of said facilities, and how? And what about insurance? Will that happen through the government as well? If not, how? Will it happen at all?

These things have to be talked about if we’re going to assume that our government provides us healthcare. There is absolutely no way a country can function under a government if its people do not discuss how that government should act. Therefore, assuming that those specifics are already well known and look identical to everyone is dangerous, silly and self-destructive, and giving anyone, be they authority government or otherwise, free rein to control important aspects of our lives however they like is equally dangerous, silly and self-destructive.

A quick note: Further, looking at the original text, the implication that taxes and trade agreements don’t influence Us Ordinary People’s lives because they deal with Big Corporate Baddies is weak at best. The thing about corporations is that they are literally made out of people. I’ll give you that they are a convenient vehicle for greed. Guess what? So are social welfare programs. Greed is not in economic structures or practices, it is in people.

+

My crisis of purpose happened when I met with a mentor and resource person of sorts at my college. The meeting itself was about student organization stuff, but at the end he started to tell me how I would be a fantastic candidate for a certain master’s program and could probably score one of the much-coveted graduate assistantships that are part of it. Which is tempting, and I was like, heck yeah.

Except that isn’t part of my current plan. I do have one, despite the often unspecific way in which I talk about my future. I don’t have my heart set on a certain job title and I am by no means expecting to only look for jobs in one field, but I do have a plan, and it basically looks like this:

-apply for a Fulbright

-graduate college in 2018

deo volente, go on said Fulbright from 2018-19

-reevaluate again at that point and see if I even need/want/can afford to go to grad school.

But then I was like, wait. Where did I get this plan?

From a different (less formal, closer-to-personally) mentor and resource person of sorts.

So of course then I had to ask where what I wanted had gone, and what it was.

What do I want?

Honestly, I want to finish school and have some fun along the way. I want to keep Sam Perry in my life. I don’t want to lose touch with Sjölunden. I’d like to live in the Midwest for a while in my life, but I’ll always love Idaho. I’d like to live abroad again at least one more time – I got bit by the Latvia bug hard, and I want to go to Germany, too. I want to write my book and have my children and be content with that, as Vonnegut said.

I don’t particularly want or not want to go to grad school; I hadn’t really thought about it. I don’t particularly care about what job I get in what field. I don’t want to live abroad permanently (I like capitalism too much). I don’t want to take too long to finish my undergrad and I don’t particularly want to become an expat, but I also don’t want to fight where life is taking me.

So I guess the answer then is to work as though I’m trying for everything and go for the possibility I like best.

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