Thursday, August 13, 2009

Self-righteousness and force

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, Glenn Garvin, of the Miami Herald, says the concept of the "peace loving" hippies from the 1960's is a myth.

In his column, "Whats not being celebrated," he says

"Sometime in the future, when their grip on the levers of the media has loosened, somebody will write a real history of the 1960s and the political awakening of Baby Boomers that will acknowledge it was marked by arrogance, self-indulgence, irreponsibility and totalitarian impulses. "

Garvin makes a good case. And, in light of the current healthcare debate, a timely one.

Self-righteousness, in any form, results in an atmosphere of superiority by the self-righteous. This superiority results in the belief that the unenlightened need to be told how to live

Neither the right nor the left has a monopoly on self-righteousness.

We should strive for the humility to realize that none of us are enlightened enough to tell anyone else, no matter how backward we might think they are, how they must live.

We can and should cajole. Persuade. Argue. Discuss. But when we use force, we lose all moral authority. Indeed, we become immoral.

And it is impossible to be righteous and immoral at the same time.

People throughout history have failed to recognize that simple contradiction. Many of us still do.

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