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What should we “just” do to make the world a better place?

November 18, 2015

Someone recently asked on a list, how we would fill in the question “If people just ___________, the world would be a much better place!” (This sparked from a discussion on type or temperament, where another person said “If people just listened to reason, the world would be a much better place!”)

As an INTP (whom this last person was also), I always tended to think that, but then the whole point of type is realizing that others don’t think as we do, and so there will be no way to make everyone else see the need for “reason” as we do; let along make them use reason in the way we think it should be.

Ilustrating this typological difference, the OP, an INFP, then filled in “loved one another.” Then, an INFJ then filled in
“showed more compassion”
“truly listened to each other”
“stopped judging each other”

Seeing this discusion, after initially not knowing what to say, I suddenly saw this as an outlet for some thoughts I was developing.

So I would say “owned their own propensity to offend others”. I’ve been recently thinking of creating a meme that says something like “The question isn’t ‘[why] can’t we all get along?‘, it’s ‘can we look at our own problems before blaming others?’” For that is the cause of people not being able to get along.

Just looking at politics (and especially the race issue, which is where that question is often asked), there is so much blaming going on. It brings to mind that question being asked by the guy at the center of the LA riots, and he sounded so innocent, as a victim of police brutality, but when I later heard that he was initially confronted to begin with for committing a crime, him asking “can’t we all get along” seemed ironic. Whatever crime he was committing, is not conducive to “getting along”! (And of course, neither is others using his crime as an excuse for [overboard] police brutality, or demonizing the whole community or [sub-]”culture”, which really is a new category for “race”.
I’ve elsewhere noted that the root of racism is not so much to put others down, but to exalt one’s own group. So then, the other group is seen as a “threat”, and then must be put down in some way.  This is the heart of the question here. Most of the “dog whistle” style of today is people feeling put upon, with their “society”, which they want to see as “exceptional”, being unjustly demonized, and this used to demand something of them in restitution).

The concepts Beebe discussed in Integrity in Depth provide a nice framework for discussing this stuff. We all gravitate towards “nature” (in contrast to “integrity”), and it becomes the excuse both sides of every conflict use. Economic inequality is justified because of “the market”, which is basically the “survival instinct” carried to an advanced level, and yet the crimes of the poor is also the survival instinct gone to an unhealthy extreme. Both sides put forth their reasonings why their own behavior is justfied, while excoriating the other side for what’s essentially the same thing. But they never see it as the same thing; it’s “different” when WE do it. (fundamental attribution shift).
The same with the current Syrian crisis. Islamists are acting purely in nature; whether the “offensive” desire to gain more control and bring the world under Islam (control them before they control you), or perhaps a reasoning that it’s a “defensive” retaliation for the West trampling on their turf (control them back, from them controlling you). Then, our reaction, to shut out refugees trying to escape them, because the terrorists themselves may slip in amongst them. That’s the natural drive for self-protection.

(For this reason, while leaning to the left, mainly because I’ve been so put off by the right’s racial “dog whistling” and misguided blame; I’m aware that the left’s solutions might not always work as idealized. So I end up not knowing which position to really take in issues such as the refugees. Or how really to solve our own financial and racial situations).

But anyway, the point was, that people need to bring “integrity” [an ethic of justice and care] into their dealings in nature, but we can’t when we’re in this loop of self-justification for acting purely on nature.
We often don’t even see it as “nature” when we do it; we see it as some kind of [faux] “integrity” in fact, and only see it as unbridled “nature” in the other side. Like because we can appeal to a “fact” for why we believe or do as we do, people tend to think that by itself turns it into some sort of “integrity”; as if you’re credited for “good” just because some form of efficiency determines your course of nature (and thus you can’t be acused of malice or neglect towards others). But that’s still by definition, “nature”.

The prime example is conservative Christians who railed on about evolutionism (which they accused of leading society to just go with the basic desires, which is “nature”, or in biblical terminology, “the flesh”), and looked down on others, such as “jungle dwellers” when extolling the “civilization” of the western Christian nations, but then favors the unbridled “market”; not seeing how that too is apart of the same “nature” they identified in others, and has contributed to a lot of the moral decay of society. They just blamed the decay all on Darwin/Marx/Freud (and minorities), while insisting the financial power structure HAD to be the way it was, as if it were an act of God (whom many did claim “gave” them their power; i.e. “divine providence”).

Also, a lot of conflict between “the Church” and “the world” is from the Church reading scripture, and seeing God’s “standards” for human behavior (basically, “the Law”), and while the whole premise of the Gospel is that man could not do it, and so needed Grace (where Christ died for sin), Christians developed a notion that once we “convert” to Christ and become “regenerated” (by the Spirit of God), NOW we can keep the Law better (or at least show we are “trying”), and what do many do from this point, but go right back to condemning the rest of the world, who are apparently, or even obviously in many cases, not even “trying”. They accuse them of being “in the flesh” (i.e. “nature”, which many had made evil in itself, or “fallen”), while the judgers presume themselves to be “in the Spirit”. So then, any sin someone points out in themselves must be fiercely denied as an attack of the enemy (whether the other people themselves, or the old standby of “the devil”).
This is the cause of much of the dispute in the world, at least as far as religion (which often does undergird the other politial issues, at some point).

They miss the point that justification is no longer about behavior. All have the same nature, and justification is God receiving Christ’s righteousness, and no longer holding man’s sin against him. (And you have the Parable of the Unjust Steward where Christ illustrates what would happen to people like this, if God really were to still judge by the Law).
Good behavior then is to be out of love (not fear, which religion has been using), which would be a product of integrity [i.e. justice, amiability, patience, etc.] which is basically the image of God; what sets us apart from the rest of nature (inanimate matter and living animals).

So I would say “if people just realized their own propensity to nature and let that keep them from looking down on others, the world would be [on the start to being] a much better place”.

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