Tuesday 7 June 2011

Goodies and baddies


Given that neutrality is impossible nonsense, and that we ought to support the better against the worse, how do we discern goodies from baddies?


Cast aside the nonesense of legalism, proceduralism - that has landed us where we are now.

Go back to the ancient idea of settling a trial mainly by means of character: the relative character of the two sides, as revealed by their past behavior and known motivations.

Character and motivation: what are the two sides like and what are they trying to do?

What would they do if they won?


Often this is clear: if one side won they would (on the basis of their character) do things we regard as wrong: they are the baddies.

In most conflicts this is very, very obvious. 


The goodies are those who are either trying to do something good, and who have on the basis of their character a reputation for doing good; or else (in a fallen world) simply those who oppose the baddies.

That is enough! - if you have better character and better motivations and/or you are against the baddies - then you are a goody.


Most baddies are working to impose the rule of a bad person (a person of bad character and motivations) - some baddies are working to impose the rule of bad gods or god (the divinity being judged by character and motivations).


(Of course, here I am talking in a secular kind of way, but the principle works even better from a religious perspective, mutatis mutandis).


If only goodies would discern in this fashion (avoiding the snares of legalism, of proceduralism) and if only the goodies would unite in opposing the baddies - well, it would be a better world: the world would get better, more good.

If only...



Alex J. said...

Rather often there are conflicts between two baddies, no? (e.g. Hitler vs. Stalin; Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia; mafia wars) Therefore, being against the baddies isn't sufficient to make you a goodie.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AJ - indeed. Then, I take it, you don't help either of them. It may be tempting, but I think it is forbidden to *assist* evil - even the lesser of evils.

Don of Piccolo said...

Surely you're falling into the trap of 'Black and White Thinking'? After all, even Hitler loved his dog:

"When your mother has grown older,
When her dear, faithful eyes
No longer see life as they once did,
When her feet, grown tired,
No longer want to carry her as she walks,
Then lend her your arm in support, escort her with happy pleasure -
the hour will come when, weeping, you must accompany her on her final walk.
And if she asks you something, then give her an answer.
And if she asks again, then speak!
And if she asks yet again, respond to her, not impatiently, but with gentle calm.
And if she cannot understand you properly, explain all to her happily.
The hour will come, the bitter hour, when her mouth asks for nothing more"

Bruce Charlton said...

DoP - yes indeed.

Maybe I should have named this post "The trap of 'the trap of back and white thinking'".