Pop quiz, kiddies. Today’s blog entry comes with homework.
And don’t give me any of that TL;DR crap. If you can read my daily 1K, you can read a long twitter thread.
Done? Good. You may take one cookie from the jar.
Now was that not amazing (the article, not the cookie)?In it, Sarah Silverman demonstrates the exact kind of superior morality that I deeply respect and consider to be downright holy.
It’s all about being able to see past the immediate situation and what all our instincts are telling us to do – namely to meet anger with anger and struggle for dominance with those who attack us.
That’s why “The Devil in the Dark” is my all time favorite Star Trek episode of all time. In it, Kirk sees beyond the very human desire to kill any animal which threatens us and looks at the larger picture, asking himself why this creature is attacking people and what might be the larger problem.
And make no mistake, the Horta is freaking terrifying. Kirk could have gone in there, phasers blasting, and killed the fuck out of the Horta, and been hailed as a hero.
But that wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted to understand the real story and did not fall into the “us versus the monster” mentality that the miners (and me, the first time I saw the episode) so naturally fall into.
I am serious. I wanted him to kill that fucking thing. So imagine the impact when I first saw “NO KILL I”.
Blew my mind.
Anyhow, back to Sarah. I am particularly impressed by her compassionate response because she is clearly in the socially dominant position. She’s rich and famous and her opponent is poor and miserable and fucked up in the head.
I feel ya, bro.
So she totally could have said something scathing and mean and the Internet would have loved her for it if it was funny enough. When we like a celebrity, we think it only fair and just that those that oppose them learn the error of their ways.
That’s what they get for messing with our beloved alpha! High 5’s!
But instead, she chose to ignore the hate and look into what would make a person lash out at a celebrity and was rewarded by seeing things as they truly are, with context attached, and instead of continuing the cycle of violence begetting violence, she held out a hand to the ghost that haunts her and found that even the villains have souls and lives and feelings and reasons for doing the things they do.
This is not the natural way people see things. It can bring up strange and difficult conflicts in our minds as we struggle to overcome our instincts in order to help someone we already hate because of their anger towards us.
That’s why I feel the need to emphasize that this superior morality is always a choice and never an obligation. It’s the extraordinary outlier and thus can never become the expected mandatory minimum.
And like all striving towards higher morality, it is just as much about improving oneself as it is about improving the world. When we stretch our souls towards higher moral ground, we end up feeling better about ourselves in the process. We can sense we have made our souls bigger, stronger, and more pure by this striving, and so even on a deep gut level, we feel more whole, more sane, more free.
Much of this message gets garbled, lost, or downright contradicted by modern religion. They try to make this superior compassion mandatory, thus poisoning the whole process and turning compassion into a battle of wills instead of a source of joy.
Now you know where most of this “you can’t make me share!” sentiment comes from.
The proper approach is to preach the joy of selfless action and tell people, in detail, and with true understanding, how compassionate action can lead to salvation in the here and now by taking us out of our everyday lives and self-oriented concerns and lets us breathe fresh air above the usual pollution and stagnancy of everyday life.
We do such a poor job of explaining this to people in modern life. Spirituality is about what is good for the spirit, not what people “ought” to do. That is a hard idea to get across in this materialistic individualist age, and it often gets tangled up in the errors and excesses of various well-intended religions.
There is a bulletproof case for the selfish benefits of selfless action sitting there in the religious literature, and yet nobody seems to be making it. Instead, we have this poisonous dichotomy between spirituality (which sucks and is not fun) and people’s natural inclination to enjoy themselves.
In reality, there is no such conflict. Doing good feels good, and that’s really the only rational enlightened hedonist argument that needs to be made. Even if you are one hundrent percent selfish sociopath, you should look into the benefits of helping others because in doing so, you end up happier and better off for the effort.
It’s programmed into us. Being social animals, we get pleasure from actions which benefit members of our tribe and/or the tribe itself.
Personally, I find the very idea of an entirely self-oriented life to be positively stifling. To be trapped in that tiny box of your own self-interest seems like hell to me.
But then again, nobody has ever forced me to give up something I valued in the name of compassion. I have never been violated that way. It sounds horrible.
To have your person (via your property) violated by people claiming the higher moral ground due to “compassion”?
Yeah, that could give someone issues that last a lifetime. And a paranoid response to the word “compassion”, which is forever linked with sudden deprivation in your mind.
And all because “compassion” was forced upon someone who wanted to exercise their need for dominance and control from behind the cover given by religion.
How very selfish of them.
I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.