THE FATAL PREMISE: Evil is done by evil people; I am not an evil person and therefore . . . I cannot do evil.This shows up in the lies.com blog today and it's something I've wanted to talk about for a while, but haven't had the time to elucidate. In lieu of good old writing my own opinions, at least I can link to some good ones.
But perhaps I'll take a moment to add to this.
Stories are boring when the bad guy is simply bad to the core, from the very beginning. Much more interesting is when the bad guy is just like you or me and ends up doing evil. Or, better still, you understand him at first, but through a series of small, nearly justifiable decisions he becomes the kind of person who makes evil decisions very easily. In short, he becomes an evil person (which to me really means, a person accustomed to evil).
Why are those stories more interesting? Because they challenge us a little more. They happen to be more like the truth which faces us in our real life. But it may be a hard truth to face. We don't want to think that we're at all like those that do evil. No one wants to think that. Well, most people probably don't.
But, back to the words quoted above, what happens when we don't adopt an attitude of introspection?
I was recently thinking about this and how it related to the "blame america first crowd" comment you hear from FOX News neo-cons. The longer you hear that particular criticism, the more it becomes obvious what it really is. Obviously, no one blames America first for everything. You don't blame America when your throat itches, you stub your toe and your car won't start. No, we're talking about people who are perceived as "blaming America" on certain issues. (this eliminates the "first")
So, now we have "the blame America crowd."
So, what, exactly is blame? Blame is placing responsibility. Some people would like to place some responsibility on America.
Who are these people in the crowd? They are, many of them, Americans. So, they aren't placing responsibility on others, they are taking responsibility, collectively, as Americans. Or, at least, they are considering America's responsibility and considering their responsibility as Americans.
Considering our responsibility is exactly how you act responsibly. You can't be responsible if you shirk your responsibilities; nor can you do so if you shift blame.
The same conservatives who toss around "blame America first" lament the eroding of taking responsibility. Some of those same folks are in power at the moment. Yet, blameshifting is rampant in our current administration.
Does anyone else see a disconnect here? Shifting blame is a tactic used to avoid introspection. And when you avoid introspection, falling prey to the Fatal Premise is all that much easier.Posted by James at November 20, 2003 5:11 PM