Many think that being reasonable is a good thing, they may even aspire to the accolade of reasonable man, thinking that this might imply a sound, comprehensive faculty of discernment and weighing all the angles of an argument. But reason only goes so far, so often it merges with excuse and justification. And these have to be sold to others. It takes a brave man to point out that a justification is not the same as something fully reasoned. There is a major fallacy associated with reason and this is that almost inevitably it is based in a socio-political context. The two things are inextricably linked, because reason has to it the normative basis of what society deems reasonable. As a consequence, reason, strange as it may seem, can be causal of atrocity. If we don’t like the way a bunch of a-rabs are behaving then it is reasonable to effect regime change which causes death, destruction and a massive migration crisis; which in turns leads to unrest at home. Reason is not infallible and more often it is a way of arguing for something we want, seek or desire. It is a pretend pseudo-logic used to justify.
Reason is a tool for manipulation, it lies aback the salesman’s pitch and the advertiser’s enticement. The reason for using this lovely fifteen compartment washing capsule is that it is so much better and more convenient than our competitor. Their washing capsule has only fourteen compartments, Q.E.D., our capsule is better, and you need to pay that little bit extra to join the enlightened users of the novel quantum chromodynamic washing system. Should you do this instantaneously you will be transformed into a model, a sex goddess and a perfect mum, who will be the envy of all and sundry.
OK, I have over-egged this, but do you get the idea? Reason can be used to manipulate.
Reason can have a convenient and expedient, self or group centred myopia.
What is reasonable in one socio-political context, is unreasonable in another. And reason has a poor memory, it is also selective. For example, many claim to be Christian and unless I am mistaken vengeance is not a Christian value. Yet we have people, claiming to be Christian insisting that it is fair that a child murder be punished as an adult and for life in the USA. The victim can no longer walk the earth; therefore, the perpetrator must be locked away until they die. The reasoning is faulty. It is used to manipulate a desired outcome, in this case vengeance. It is not fair that the perpetrator should be free, ever.
Attached to this notion of reason is this equally bizarre notion of fair. Many a highly paid executive justifies an inflated salary on grounds of fairness, but it is a selective justification in which the more able arguer wins a greater salary. What is fair can be only in the eyes of the person making this claim. Everybody else is wrong. If one is using reason, it is not reasonable that there is such a huge pay differential. It is skewed, but the skewing need not be so marked. To be true some are simply greedy bastards.
To be reasonable, is to be malleable, able to be reasoned. One can be persuaded, influenced, convinced, manipulated, brainwashed and brow beaten by reasons. The peer group and this “social consensus” thingamajig is a major component of reason. It is man-made and as a certain Vulcan might say, illogical.
At the back of reason there is often an agenda, simple as.
Having perhaps tainted this notion of reason:
Am I a reasonable being?
Is this a good thing?
Has my reason ever gotten me into trouble?
Is reason comprehensive and all encompassing?
This film addresses two different styles of leadership. Sometimes that which we justify to ourselves can lead us into dark places. Clinging on to power can become ever more desperate and not pretty. This can increase the justification count exponentially.
Earlier today I wrote about justifications and how we use them to excuse behaviours which are shabby and off. What constitutes shabby or off behaviour? I guess that is to an extent in the eye of the beholder. But I also reckon we all know when we are doing something a little shabby and off. We might Facebook stalk someone we know, an ex or a “friend”, perhaps. This is shabby and off, but somehow, we simply cannot resist. We might think “everybody is doing it”, so it is OK and normal. We do not have very high personal standards if this kind of “I was only following orders” excuse suffices.
Waving your cock at an actress is now seen as shabby and off, the social definition of shabby and off is time variable.
Unless we are very far gone, there is always a faint hint of being ashamed, if we do something shabby and off. Maybe our toes might curl with embarrassment at the idea of being found out. And so, we might hide and get a bit more furtive about our peccadilloes. They may then grow in the darkness. The problem is that once one drops standards and behaves in a shabby fashion, it is easier the next time. We might lack courage to do something right and so we shirk. Maybe we feel a little upset. Next time it is easier. Behaving in a shabby and off manner becomes habitual. Before long we have low standards. Soon we accept shabby and off behaviours both in ourselves, our colleagues and others. Moral standards nose dive.
The only antidote to this is to try to garner a sense of integrity, impeccability even. If we have lost our backbone, maybe we need to find it again. Although compromise can be a good thing, it can often be bad, a slippery slope even.
Having cued this up:
Have I ever done anything shabby and off?
How did it make me feel?
Did it lift my spirits or make my heart sink?
Maybe I need to review the standards by which I live?
To discuss this topic, I am going to come out of heart and back into concrete mind.
I’ll start with a question first. Do you notice when you start justifying something to yourself?
In justification-space many things seem to be OK. We can justify all sorts of stuff to ourselves and thereby feel thoroughly justified. We might seek to invade another country to remove its leader, so we look around for some justification that will mean that the upcoming slaughter is fine. At the merest whiff of weapons of mass destruction, we have our standard, our flag, behind which we can unleash hell. This is perhaps an extreme example. But we can find justifications for a whole bunch of stuff, that is mean, dodgy, cowardly, shabby, vindictive, greedy, you name it. We kind of know that we did not ought to be doing it, so we hunt around for a plethora of justifications so that we can bury our conscience under them. And then we share our justifications with others to justify our actions. If it is a group effort we can sample the justifications of others and increase the overall justification count. We can talk ourselves into something and we can talk ourselves out of something. We may silence our conscience so that we can indulge in whatever it is. Maybe later we may regret, but for now we want to do something so bad, that we in our cleverness can find sufficient justifications. Under these the basic spirit, the motive behind actions lies buried. We then start to think that because of our justifications “it” is great idea, good, true and thoroughly justifiable. We can get all caught up in an idea, even if it isn’t so bright and then we must execute that idea.
I’ll interject another question. Do we suspect that by the time we are looking to justify we are already straying from the path of what might be termed righteousness?
This tendency to justify is a part of the common dream. We all do it. We have to explain what we did over Christmas and justify our choice of holiday destination, car, career, partner, dog and political affiliation. It is part and parcel.
Under the flag of justification some pretty nasty shit is done. Justification is the primary method of silencing the conscience, the heart.
Having cued this up:
Are justifications a good or a bad thing?
Have I ever justified something to myself that was shabby and off?
Justify your answers.
Last night we watched a film called Green Zone in that film a unit of soldiers was sent to investigate the Weapons of Mass Destruction(WMD) alleged to have been in Iraq. This premise was used to “justify” the invasion and bloodshed. Behind this justification were of course the Egos of a number of people and a lingering US desire for vengeance and punishment. It is fair to speculate that even today we are dealing with a chain reaction, sparked, and the consequences thereof. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found, though they were a part of the sales pitch for war. This regime change mentality pervaded for a while and the middle east has continued to be a tinderbox ever since, with knock on effects for domestic security. People can justify a whole bunch of stuff, retrospectively even the grounds for that “justification” can be found to be made up. If we use the same “logic” then by rights the USA should now invade North Korea because it doesn’t like the leadership and from what we are told, it has a limited nuclear capability. We hear a lot about it. North Korea isn’t full of Arabs and middle eastern types and is next door to China, Japan and South Korea. These are markets with big economies. If there was a war on that peninsula we would not get our cheap consumer goods so easily. So, the justification used to invade Iraq is not so compelling when there may be an economic impact in Asia. The actuality of WMD has made some people think a little more.
I think the only safe thing to say about the middle east is that it is a tinderbox and one that is not amenable to solution anytime soon. Attempts to inflict things there nearly always tend to go wrong. It is more “interesting” than Africa because of the oil, the scars there run deep, and grudges are long held. But this does not stop people coming up with “bright ideas” and “cunning plans”. People in their minds have a fondness for inflicting these, with sparse justification and usually without consideration of the consequences. They set off a chain reaction which need never have been initiated were it not for the desire for personal advancement somewhere.
This dabbling in the world is common and exists in the day to day, away from geo-politics. The thing about chain reactions is that they can spiral out of control and quickly so. But humans seemingly can justify all sorts of things to themselves without considering the knock-on effects. One may not have sight of the consequences but that does not matter when a justification looms large and tempting. When a chain reaction has started to spiral, it is far reaching. And all it takes is a spark, which may be tiny. In the more local theatre of the day to day, one may say or do something stupid and before long a whole raft of consequences arrive. The knock-on effects start mounting and mounting. There is bifurcation after bifurcation. All one can hope to do is to manage the incoming shit storm and tidy up the mess as it appears.
This is cause and effect or karma. Once a chain reaction has been initiated the consequences amplify and mount. If the motive is / was dodgy, the karmic impact is high. Those “bright ideas” may not be so bright after all. The idea that one can control or contain a chain reaction is something of a fallacy. In the lab it can be controlled in the world it cannot. This is because of the interdependency of life.
At the moment I feel that the world has lost direction, there are a lot of firefights going on, trying to deal with the consequences of dabbling. There is not much accord, and some are even being pulled out of. Is the world really heading towards a massive Twitter spat backed up by munitions? I hope not. Yup human Ego, is such a great thing, for it lies at the root of many of the problems of humanity. That desire to dabble in the lives of other beings is strong in some, after all we know best and our world-version is the one we are entitled to inflict upon others, irrespective of consequence.
One never knows when a seemingly small act can start a chain reaction. An “injured” Ego, a nose out of joint and bang…
Is it really all about goats?
Hmnn.. it probably is….