Thursday, May 07, 2015

I Am a Human Being, Capable of Doing Terrible Things

Brian alerts me to a sucka M.C. bitin' on one of my routines:

IRL, almost nothing is ever so simple. Almost no situations that ever exist have heroes and villains, victims and victimizers. Most stuff is just people doing their own things, and most of that consists of behaviors that are orthogonal to the entire paradigm of victims, heroes, and villains. Worldviews–and they are many–that attempt to break down all of history and human life to exploitation, war, and struggle are being disingenuous in an effort to use the injustice-hack for themselves.

It will win few friends and lose many to refuse the tribalism implicit in adopting one victim group or another, but if we are interested in stopping the damage caused by these sorts of conflicts, we must forgo the natural highs of responding to an injustice with more injustice. We must maintain that the same ethics apply to defense as offense, because as long as we let them differ in practice, we will just keep up the constant wars, cultural and physical, until that really is all we do…commit new injustices as get-backs for old injustices.

I kid. It's a good post (despite the ever-so-slightly-annoying use of "hack"), and I agree. Consider this excellent strip by Zach Weinersmith:


The same phenomenon occurs going forward in time as well. Self-proclaimed grandmasters of multi-dimensional chess will assure you that the ends will justify the means, that this action, despite appearing unethical and counterproductive by itself, will actually produce a beneficial result in the long run. The obvious problem is, trying to envision what "the long run" will look like is as fraught with error, bias and distortion as attempting to find causes in the past. The valence effect describes our tendency to imagine the best-case scenario resulting from our intended action, and then make the unwarranted logical leap to assuming that this is also the most likely result. Few people have the patience to make a serious effort to ponder all the alternative scenarios in which things don't go so swimmingly.