Monday, November 07, 2005

Morality not Majority

Thoreau – Civil Disobedience

A couple things stuck out to me.  First was Thoreau’s commitment to both idealism and reality.  He spent the first and last thoughts on idealism, imagining the way things should be, but the bulk of the text is about the application of this vision to his current circumstances.  I think this is revealing because it is an important balance to maintain.  If we don’t have a vision then there might as well not be a discussion to start off with, basically not having a vision is like saying that everything is the way it is supposed to be.  However, focusing only on the vision will not get anything done.  If there is no practical application or fix of what you see is wrong, then that can be quite depressing.  
The substance of Civil Disobedience is that a state is best served by morality not by what the whole feels is most expedient for itself.  Sometimes the state acts in a way that is immoral and it is the duty of the individual to uphold morality and act as a balance for the voice of society.  He talks about citizenship as being more than voting, but fulfilling your duty to the state to oppose immoral actions.       

It is too bad that the system is set up to reflect what the majority (educated or not) wants and not what is moral.  I suppose an accomplishment is that standing up for something isn’t considered treason.  

1 comment:

malachijones said... here's my thought. What happens then when there is differing views of morality. Again, that is such an abstract term because what is moral is entirely relative to whom to ask.

The example I'm thinking about is the issue of homosexual marriages. Advocates and critics of homosexual marriages are both claiming the moral higher ground - one based on the morality of equality and diversity; and the other based on a "supreme" divine morality as communicated throught their faith system (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism). Whose morality wins out?

The country is divided politically despite the roughly 80% of Canadians who would ascribe to one of the three monotheistic religions.

Another example is the current Bush administration who arguably have perpetrated immoral acts, yet, the majority of everyday American citizens supported his administration at the height of its turmoil.

I agree with the pragmatism balanced with is a necessary balance. However, the morality question become even more important in this balance because many world leaders have articulated a passionate and utopian vision (idealism) of what their nation could become and they also have the dedication and determination to make it come to fruition (reality), yet have chosen immoral policies to reach their ends (i.e. Communist Russia, Nazi Germany). Some basis of morality is necessary so that the ends do not begin to justify the means...but again, how do we establish the "best morality" for a community of people?