Humanity’s biggest Pitfall: “Merit”
Our biggest problem is the sense of “merit”.
It undergirds much of religion (including Christian religion, even as it premises itself upon the opposite notion of “grace”), as well as secular philosophy (I think more and more of this “Law of Attraction”, and the related “rugged individualism”, from the nasty cold attitudes they produce among their adherents, in both politics and self-help discussion. I’ve cited one LOA teacher, as justifying their harsh thundering at people with a notion of “superior power”. The people don’t even have any right to be offended, and are called “narcissists” for being so. Kind of reminds one of the slavemasters whipping slaves and then calling them “uppity”, or dismissing current claims of injustice as “whining”, with the ulterior purpose of getting “free stuff”). It’s what led to a lot of the sociopolitical problems, started centuries ago when people invaded others’ lands, and decided “we’re ‘chosen’, we have merit [built up ‘civilization’, etc], so we’re taking over!” The heirs of this continue to use some supposed merit to defend against the equality of those subjugated, rehashing the inferiority of these groups for being in that position in the first place.
Do “achievements” equate to “character”?
It’s all about “character”, with people thinking they have it, and others don’t.
Whenever you stumble across a white supremacist site, the main talking point is all the “achevements” of the race, like “building modern civilization”, where blacks, from Africa to the West have done nothing but cause problems and need to be supported.
But the question is who ever assigned merit to “modern civilization”? Certainly not scripture, where in both testaments, the big powerful world-ruling empres were always heathen dominators who oppressed God’s people. God had promised His people rule if they obeyed His Law, but the nation as a whole never did, and so remained in subjection. The Church was promised “crowns” for its faithfulness, in the Resurrection, not in this world.
Here’s a quote exemplifying this “character judgment” basis of racism, from perhaps the nation’s #1 “hero”, embodying everything about the strong “rugged individual” that conservatives love and hold up as ideal manhood; also also a close friend of the similar number one political hero, Reagan:
(My father said he was a big fan of his, until finding out he was “racist”; probably with this statement. We can see why Public Enemy slammed him, after Elvis, in “Fight the Power”).
The whole thing starts from setting themselves (via their “culture”) up as PAR, morally (so that everyone else is judged by their supposed “goodness”); and in order to do that, they have to justify their evil deeds, as we see here. Already, we begin to see the shift from genetics, to “responsibility”, as Wise pointed out, where now, racists were willing to “give us a chance”, to “move up” to their “level”. —As all the political and economic forces sit there pulling every string they can to continue ensuring them remaining trapped in poverty and resulting crime. But that has to be dismissed as just a made up “excuse”, because “all the white [‘ethnic’] groups pulled themselves up”.
(I think not enough people had called this out, and so today, you have so many thoroughly convinced that their superior attitudes are justified, “factual”, irrefutable, and only in self-defense. This is why they now have a Trump to loudly champion their cause. But thankfully, a few like Wise and Lopez really are going after this).
The description Paul gives of the apostate Israel of his day perfectly fits this modern “western superiority” mindset that assumes itself as “par” for morality and character: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish THEIR OWN righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3).
Jesus had warned the same people:“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:41)
What’s never brought to their attention is that with all that power they were able to amass and “build” with, came the potential to destroy all of life off of this planet! And that this point, in addition to the way their power has already been carried out (conquest, war, brutal policing, capitalism with the the ice-age mentality based on the false premise of “scarcity”, Randianism, and “rugged invidividualism” to justify it, etc.) is the same “savage” nature or “law of the jungle” that they deride and sneer at in tribal or urban black culture. Just a more “sophisticated” variation of the same “fallen human nature”. They are simply holding up the same “nature” that drives the violence or “inertia” (desire for ease) they are pointing out in blacks, and assuming that for them (the ones making this judgment) it by itself automatically equates to “integrity” (which is basically what they are claiming to have) because of some hand-selected list of accomplishments they can appeal to, which themselves are not without problems (a “shadow” of evil, basically), as we see.
But how often has the conservative Church (which has always fought hard for the “sinfulness of all men”, and inability for him to be justified by merit) pointed this out? They historically have been more likely to have gone along with the basic premise of “Western exceptionalism”, which is just a softer term for the “white superiority” that drove these things.
So they, virtually unchalleneged, snort out all the “fact” that always seems to prove their point.
Scripture asks “What do you have that you did not receive? And if [you acknowledge] you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7). Even if one doesn’t believe in scripture, this still should stand as a recognizable fact of human limitation (being we actually do occupy such a small place in the universe).
Here’s yet another political tough-talk, written by a woman going after men who voted for Bernie Sanders: http://louderwithcrowder.com/dear-men-who-vote-bernie-sanders-youre-wimpy-and-gross A “real man” is “One who has ambition, self-worth, confidence, and valor is a man worth commemorating–by both women and society”, which “strapping, rugged men” are “traditionally masculine characteristics”, and “the evolutionary behavior of a provider”, citing the old ancestral activities of “hunting and/or gathering”.
Younger Bernie voters are all assumed to be “a lazy slacker who needs people to take care of him, you probably can’t. It would involve a little extra work to click that link. God forbid you work for something.”
A modern day hunter/gatherer still exudes ambition and drive, he just does it with modern tools, be they physical or digital. He is a man with a decisive attitude, who knows what he wants and goes for it. He doesn’t wane. He isn’t wishy washy. He doesn’t whine about things “not being fair.” He says to hell with it, he’ll find a way to make it happen. He is a man who works hard, no matter the job or career he currently has or is striving for. A masculine, modern day man seeks to better himself. He yearns for and commands respect. He has strength of character, honor, integrity. From women, from other men and most importantly, from himself.
You, the Bernie Sanders supporter, a male seeking hand-outs, lacks personal respect. You’re less like a man and more like a spineless amoeba. You’ve fallen for the party line that “life isn’t fair.” You believe Obama and Sanders who say the “deck is stacked against you.” Where a real man would heartily declare “Challenge accepted,” while forging a path to victory, you hang your head and skulk. You hashtag. You complain. You are a male with no belief in yourself. You’re no a man at all.
You’re also doomed to be overtaken by a feminist, if any woman will have you at all. She might want to be the provider since you cannot provide for yourself or for her. Since the dawn of human beings, women have wanted men who can provide. It’s evolution. It’s biology.
We seek a mate who can take on those responsibilities while we’re caring for the young. Sorry feminists, but such is nature. This is entirely why women like tall, strong, strapping men in power suits. He’s signifying he’s an excellent hunter. And yes, men, this is why women like men with money. It’s a sign of how good he is at hunting and providing.
But you, who votes socialist, are telling the world you’d rather take from people who do the hunting, for you cannot. You are, for all intents and purposes, a wimp. In days of yore, you would’ve been driven out of the tribe. You would have held the entire tribe back. Because you just didn’t feel like going out and hunting. You didn’t feel like gathering. Meh. It’s too hard, you would’ve said. It’s not fair that Thor has bigger muscles than you. It’s not fair that Liam runs faster. It’s not fair that Ulrich has a bigger spear. It’s just not fair.
Everything that Bernie supporters talk about is dismissed under this “wanting the government to take care of us” generalization. It ignores that his premise is not the government taking money not already being taken from us, but rather that most of this money being taken is going to the rich, not the poor as the Right charges, and so that the same money should rather be put back to use to benefit most of us (from whom it came from), and not just the rich. If you say “it should just be given back to us to use however we want”, that’s a good ideal, but even conservative administrations and congresses have never been able to achieve that. They just keep giving more to the rich, while everyone blames the poor, and then berates them for their “whining”.
It also ignore just what is meant by the deck to be stacked against us, or “the game rigged”, by those already with power. That we can go out and work hard; just as hard or even harder than these power brokers, and get nowhere, because they have in fact rigged the system to funnel all the proceeds to themselves.
But that that’s not even looked at; it’s instantly assumed that just because they have all of that power, they must have worked harder for it. No one ever inherits. No one up there ever does shady dealing (including with the much despised “government”). Personality (temperament that is different for different people) and timing never have anything to do with it. Uncontrollable factors can never be too great, for this ideal “super”-man! This is then made the “par” that everyone else falls short of. So of course, under this “rugged individual” premise, those rich were all the hard-working, effective “hunter-gatherers” who “DESERVE” it.
So basically, an entire generation now, the “millennials”, (as an article linking to this one addresses) are a bunch of whiners who deserve to be driven into for-all-purposes slavery by these “real men”, just because they climbed to the place where they could do that, and the others didn’t. This is the same pattern I keep seeing, whether race, class, or generations. No one ever questions how “the hard truth” can always favor this same group of people!
As for the “real men” concept, it’s the same rigid ideal I discussed in https://erictb.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/backlash-against-the-nice-guy-in-light-of-virgin-rampage and https://erictb.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/laws-of-the-universe-objectivism-and-tough-talk-or-why-im-critical-of-secular-self-help (and this article reads much like the ones I discussed in those articles!) It totally ignores the other baggage that comes with that “rugged” premise.
For one thing, we are no longer “hunter-gatherers”, and as suggested (see: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/systems-vs-individuals-and-the-balance-of-power-and-the-role-of-meaning) it was turning away from that paradigm, toward a system of “give and take” (which then leads to forms of “merit” to determine who should give and who should take) starting with agriculture, that can be seen as apart of the archetypal “fall” that leads to all the problems people complain about as “unfair” today!
But no; tough-talkers only pitch the grandiose ideal and act as if anyone can just “choose” it by mental fiat. No wonder they talk to people who feel down on luck like trash!
So here, is the appeal to “nature” I just mentioned. And evolution, even! (And so obviously, an example of a “secular” or not particularly Christian version of Right wing conservativism). The basic argument is, (regarding taking advantage of and consuming one another): “the animals do it!” This from the promoters of “exceptional”, “advanced” (and often even “Christian”) “civilization”! At no time does all of this “character” they assume for themselves, ever suggest a calling higher than just raw nature! Yet they continue to look down on others over this!
While this article doesn’t mention race at all, still the trashing of “government assistance” in the past ¾ century or so, has gone hand in hand with racism, in conservative ideology; all in the name of “rugged individualism”, and the point is, to look at this another way, you’re justifying injustice with the same “nature” that you call “barbaric” when blacks in the jungle or the urban streets do it. Or when big “socialist” governments exert their power. And then, YOU become the one who turns around and whines “unfair”, and “the deck is stacked against us”! (Which is not just leftist authoritarianism, but is populism, which has also been increasingly picked up on the libertarian right; the same ones still pitching “rugged individualism”!)
So conservatives all across the board (Christian, secular, white supremacists, etc.) are doing nothing but complaining, but never seem to be able to do anything about it. If they and their society are superior, then why by their own rhetoric is everything going wrong in it? Why are they so angry about the way everything is? They too must ultimately claim that “The Man is keeping them down” (as they mock blacks for saying), only in their case, “the Man” is fellow whites in control of this society and government.
Of course, it’s not just racism, but many other areas of life, involving abuse of authority. Like Joe Jackson , who seems to think there was absolutely nothing wrong with the way he raised the kids, especially Michael, who grew up damaged beyond repair, because “hey, it made them famous, and he got rich”. This he finds it easy to say, lounging in a family estate bought with those riches, as his son spirals down the drain and to eventual death, and the father lives out his life in the estates, justifying himself all the way. (And this from a religious family that should know “A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of things he owns”—Luke 12:15, as Michael’s life sadly illustrated).
Another example is the stifling rules and regulations passed by government, and agencies like mine, often with good intentions in the aftermath of some safety-related incident. It’s all to “look good” (especially given the litigiousness of this society), or in Biblical terminology, to avoid “the appearance of evil” (and this carries over to “old-line” fundamentalists imposing certain rules, citing that scripture). People often end up “straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel”, in focusing on whatever looks good on paper, and doing just enough to meet that objective (and “doing just enough to get by” is something you would normally associate with lower level workers who haven’t climbed up to management and are thus assumed to deserve low-paid subservience).
Naming and splitting “problems”
The day I decide to sit down and start writing out the thoughts for this, happens to be the morning of the Orlando gay club attack.
Conservatives and others flock to news and social media to criticize Obama and Hillary for not labeling it “radical Islamic terrorism”. (Which he answered excellently two days later!) They always want a specific ‘enemy’ named. Like some white supremacists said, they want to “point fingers” and to “name names”, for who they think are the number one problem in the nation; in their case, the blacks. Christian leader Randall Terry once said “blame was critical” in pointing out the “godless humanist and egalitarian socalist planners”.
If more than one person in a particular group does something; if the slightest “pattern” can be detected, then the whole group becomes guilty. “Good ones” must then be split back off from that group, when they (as individuals) “prove themselves” to be different.
The person doing or demanding the “pointing” never sees himself as part of that group, or any other “problem” group, or perhaps having the same problems in different ways, or other problems that are just as bad. (Some exceptions might be certain black political figures, who go along in lockstep agreement with “dog whistling” rhetoric. But they as individuals have obviously distanced themselves from the “community” they so criticize, based on the phony premise of “colorblindness”).
Of course, this ignores other connections that can be made, like Conservative Christianity and white supremacy, which had a common view of the notion that “chosen nations” were the ones who deserved the most power, and were granted by “providence” the right to take them over.
How the splitting is done (part 1): “good/evil” vs “oppressed/oppressor”
Like someone posts a “Comical Conservative” video https://www.facebook.com/TheComicalConservative/videos/874413852691794/ where the guy has it all figured out in a nutshell. Both the Left and radical Islam are alike, because they start with a view of “oppressed and the oppressor”, based on a desire for “equal outcome”.
This stems from a statement by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, that “while conservatives see the world in terms of good and evil, liberals tend to see it in terms of oppressors and the oppressed”.
Then, I see the meme, clearly showing the two broad categories:
Anyone who is familiar with conservative rhetoric (especially Christians) will know that “good vs evil” is the ‘proper’, “God-centered” view, where “oppressed vs oppressor” is the “man-centered” view the “godless” leftists made up in their schemes to shame and then take over God’s nation. It’s of course the language of “victimhood”, which conservatives, embracing the “rugged individual” stance, have all come to despise (except when they do it). Man is not a “victim”, but is “evil” (at least according to the Christians), and so deserves a little suffering anyway, and if God decides to “bless” some people (which includes making them a “good” exception to evil man), then those not blessed must just suck it up, basically. Of course, not all political conservatives these days are religious enough to necessarily hold the theological aspect of the ideology, but they still have passed parts of it around amongst each other.
And so thus, those identifying with “conservative” movements (whether via Christianity or racism) have a natural aversion to the concept of “oppressed vs oppressor”, because they know where they would fit in that. So they dimiss it and “victimhood” in general as part of an evil ideology and hide behind “good vs evil” or “right vs wrong”. But the problem is, they have distorted “right vs wrong” in order to justify themselves in the first place!
How the splitting is done (part 2): “Rights” vs “Entitlements”
From the page, I then find this meme:
The first thing I think, is why are conservatives complaining about so much about what they want (or want “back”), then? They sure seem to feel “owed” a lot of things by “the world”!
Thinking in a similar vein, one commenter points out “No life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” What follows is a debate on the ‘difference’ between “rights” and “entitlements“. “Rights” are what’s “GIVEN”, like by the Creator, as the Constitution says, of course, and are what you “fight” for from being “taken” (So I guess then “entitlements” are something given to someone by other than God, with no effort on their part).
“Life liberty and the per suit [sic] of happiness are all things that you need to get up off your ass and go get not something that’s going to be furnished to you”
“you’re not ENTITLED to Life on Earth. You are given life in Earth by God”
“Those are God given rights that you have an imperative to defend and maintain for posterity as those who have sacrificed their lives, liberty and property to provide and secure them for you….”
“This is saying that you are not entitled to any rights GIVEN (ie: positive rights). Government doesn’t GIVE us life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness (ie: negative rights). We are simply protected from having these things taken away.”
(“Negative” and “positive” rights. Breaking it down ‘introverted Thinking’ style, even, but, I would say, as a more “shadowy” backup of a more extraverted Thinking focus on an environmental objective, such as determining who “deserves” something, or not).
Yet one then claims: “If you really want to get technical here you aren’t entitled to these things either. NONE of these are in the US Constitution…the statement regarding these points is in the Declaration of Independence, which is in reality a declaration of war. So no, you aren’t entitled to anything…ever.”
“This is a clear example of the problem with way too many people today…they don’t understand the meaning of ‘rights’ and ‘entitlement’. The founding fathers of the United States of America believed that God endowed people with certain inalienable rights…’Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness’. Beside the fallacy of people thinking that they have a right to happiness, which they don’t, they only have the right to pursue it, rights are not the same thing as being entitled or owed something. Def: Entitled (Adjective), believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”
“You are entitled to nothing in this world and you are owed nothing! You have the right, in the USA, to Life. You have the right to Liberty, at least for a little while longer…and the right to pursue happiness, but not the right or guarantee that you will find happiness, or be happy. The above list of what you are entitled to and what the world owes you is 100% accurate!”
Basically, however they spin it, it explains why their complaining, demanding and claims of being “oppressed” are “different” from what they are pointing out in others. The end result, as always, only conservatives (and the demographic group they represent) deserve anything, because what they want are universal or “negative” “rights“, that they have paid their dues by fighting for, while what everyone else wants are manufactured “entitlements” (or “positive rights”), that they want handed to them, unearned.
This explains everything!
The total “fundamental attribution” shift I have always noticed. (You do the SAME things, but attribute your portion of the behavior to good, and the others’ to evil). Just engineer the terms and definitions around!
Fundamental attribution error is the backbone of self-righteousness.
You can’t admit that you’re essentially the same as everyone else (as secular philosophies like Jung, and even the Christian Gospel itself say); that destroys the whole “righteous” posture and platform taken against others, so you have to attribute what you do to something else.
This is just splitting off evil as “other”.
More on the “owed” concept
Another common tactic of “merit” is the whole “delayed gratification” concept. Once you’ve “delayed” gratification, then (as per the above definition of “rights”] you are due [or technically even “owed” or “entitled” to] it, and it ends up justifying anything they do. The conquerors had to “get up off their butts”, after all, in order to go and take others’ lands, and then build it up. Capitalists put out cheaper and cheaper quality junk [“planned obsolescence”] while charging more and more for it, but they are still “makers” because of the fact that they got themselves in thet position and “innovated” and “produced” something in the first place [even if it’s virtually worthless]”.
Likewise, Christians who emphasize strong standards of “holiness”, but when they nevertheless get caught in sexual scandals, expect the “world” they had so excoriated on morality, to grant them pardon (not throw their failing back at them, at which they claim persecution). After all, it’s “not about perfection”, it’s about having the high standards in the first place, even if they aren’t completely lived up to. It’s basically “I paid my dues, so now I have room to slide“.
We see how all of this, as much as conservative accuse liberal ideologies, relativizes all morality!
The whole “The world doesn’t owe you anything” is one of the most common “tough talking” points of “self-help”, coaching, parenting, etc., but usually ends up uttered by people who themselves, while perhaps stuffing conscious feelings of directly claiming being “owed” something, nevertheless turn out to suffer from misery from things in their lives, and basically “preach to themselves”; but “at” others, who unfortunately must have this person’s own stuff projected and dumped onto them. Often, a feeling of having “paid one’s dues” is what comes up somewhere, while the person they are talking to supposedly has a more lax attitude. My father was one example.
(Another was some person online I knew of, who obviously read and regurgitated “Law of Attraction” rhetoric about getting whatever “energy” you put into the universe, self-sufficiency, “once” thinking life owed him, etc. but was totally “negative” himself, with an obsession over black crime [even while being black himself], where he would cop an attitude and snark at you if you asked for a point or any sort of solution offered other than to just put down the people. There seemed to be a deep resentment toward the people themselves, all seen as “wallowing” in their problems, where he “climbed out of it”. ⦅Which was the same dynamic covered in Christ’s Parable of the vineyard workers⦆. Yet another is a personality type coach who as a Jungian similarly talked about “energies” and also the unconscious and how conflicts are the means by which it tries to “get our attention” and we must “own” our “shadow”, but nevertheless always takes herself out of the equation; often confiding in “credentials” to have the right to sharply confront others who don’t have the credentials, and so the numerous conflicts she is known for getting into with that must always be the other person’s “shadow”. After all, everyone wants to “shoot the messenger”.
It’s unbelievable how the very teachers of these philosophies, who are the ones who should “know better” most of all, do the very things they are teaching others against, often very pointedly at that! The messenger, under the simple banner of “truth”, can do no wrong. Again, they carry the “superior power”. Hence, whatever offenses, must then always be the wrong of the offended, as we see in religion and politics).
So my father never said anyone “owed” him anything, but instead, it was an endless cycle of destructive behavior, that toward the end, he began to essentially blame his mother, aunt and grandmother for. (And particularly affecting how he dealt with me and my brother and mother). He wasn’t expecting them to give him anything, but it’s still like they messed him up. What was basically “owed” was that they have been different (past, rather than present or future. And then, in the present, we should be whatever doesn’t get on his already aggravated nerves, almost as if to compensate for how rough he already had it).
In any case, it’s the same thing, though looks different from someone who demands or expects something now. But it has the same effects, of discontent and misery. Only one way can better pretend to “accept life as it is”, “move on”, and have the right “attitude” of self-sufficiency and not feeling owed, and then of course, be able to assume a position to chew out someone else for those things.
Why “good/evil” is not better than “oppressed/oppressor”
As for “oppressed vs oppressor”, Prager and the rest of the conservatives aren’t thinking that that is basically a subset of “good vs evil”, and not in total contrast or opposition to it. The difference is that “oppressed vs oppressor” is more specific an instance of good and evil, while their “good vs evil” is of course broad and all-encompassing. And that is precisely the problem with it. If you label people oppressed or oppressor, then either they are or they aren’t, and all one has to do is look and see if one group is actually oppressing the other. To use the typological concepts, that is simply a perception, while “good vs evil” is a judgment.
Good and evil, on the other hand, are generalities (assumed from a summation of a lot of behaviors and actions) that can be faked. Satan appears as an angel of light and false teachers and corrupt political leaders pose as doers of good. You have to completely assess their overall motives and outcomes, in order to determine that, but you are imperfect yourself, and your view of them may be skewed as well.
(Perception is “irrational” ⦅you can’t help taking in whatever information is there⦆, while judgment is “rational“, meaning we have to willfully process the information. “Rational” sounds better than “irrational”, they way the terms have come to be used, but think of it this way: those insisting on “good vs evil” are “rationalizing” things, as we will see below! Now, to put it that way, doesn’t sound as good, does it? They are not dealing with simple “fact”, as is, as they often claim!)
Now let’s go down the scriptural list of why this is not as good as they insist it is. Good and evil was the original “knowledge” that led to the Fall to begin with (Gen.3:7ff). It is what powered the Law (Rom.3:20), which led to man’s condemnation or “death” (Rom.4:15, 5:13). No one was “good” enough to pass with it (Rom.3:9ff). So all were concluded under sin (Gal.3:22). And we were thus warned about “judging” others (Matt.7:1), because we end up doing the same things (Romans 2:1), and thus “loading heavy burdens on others” that we would not “lift with one of our fingers”(Matt.23:4. Though again, with the “merit” concept, they think they have borne whatever “burden” is supposedly required, already).
That is what’s wrong with this conservative “good vs evil” concept. Because they always end up judging others’ “evil”, while presuming themselves “good”, even if not directly, individually, but usually through identification (from idem, “the same”, from “id”) with the [collective] “good” or “exceptional” institution or belief system supposedly guided by God. (And of course, they were smart and moral enough to choose the right system, or among the Calvinists such as the Reconstructionists, God “opened their eyes” unconditionally, but still holds everyone else “accountable” for their “blindness”).
The “Judeo-Christian” conservatives, are the ones who should have known better, but (among Christians) think that their “changed lives” undoes this “evil” everyone else is plagued with (and then, there are many on the “right” side of things who are not born again Christians, but their correct “good/evil” philosophy seems to get them on the “good” side as well).
Again, if you catch them oppressing someone and call it out, by itself there’s nothing they can say. If they are, they are; simple as that. But if you call them “evil”, they can wiggle their way out of it with some situational justification, and from there, even manage to turn the whole thing around, so that they are really the “good” side and the other party is really the evil one. (Double negative; where “oppress/oppressed” are an action and a state of being that are more absolute, good/evil are a simple positive/negative value that can be reversed. Doing something that appears evil against the evil is supposedly positive. Of course, Christ basically said otherwise, but appealing to the Old Testament, many Christians actually think this flies. And while those pushing for “good/evil” often condemn “relativism” as apart of this, we see their good/evil term is ironically the one that actually fosters relativity!)
So their determination of who really are the oppressed and oppressors is this “good vs evil” category. Only the evil can be “oppressors”, it is assumed, while the good are “oppressed” just for their goodness. (Think “they hate us for our freedom”. “They hate us for our religious faith”. “They hate the [‘hard working’] rich, out of envy”). Hence, since America is the “good” nation, it can never be the oppressor, and since certain “cultures” are obviously “evil” (meaning being known for doing certain “bad” things), they can’t truly be “oppressed”. They are only claiming so in order to wrongly exact something from the good people. So while it is ludicrous for those groups to “whine” of “oppression” (the much despised “victimhood”), it is perfectly acceptible for the good conservatives to claim to be the truly “oppressed”, and it’s the “evil” people or belief system doing the oppression (though they don’t always use that word, to keep consistency with their statement that only the Left speaks of “oppression”).
So again, we see the basis of the same attribution shift, where they do the same things, but it’s “different”. It’s like having the utter authority to preach or even make the rules and break them. (which is one definition of “narcissism”: “All narcissists aspire to have complete control over others, to make and break the rules, to have God like power.” http://narcissism101.com/NarcissistsinMedia/narcissistsinboo.html). This is a good example of “privilege”, which is an often tossed around term (or of course, “entitlement”).
This article: http://qz.com/656159/the-scientific-way-to-train-white-people-to-stop-being-racist shows how their own “good/evil” concept is what actually stokes their own guilt in the race issue. It creates the “Moral dilemma” of racism, “about whether they’re good or bad people—moral or immoral”. So they project this onto everyone else; that they’re being made “bad”, and thus have to maintain their exceptional “goodness”. “When the core of our existence is brought into question, it gets emotional pretty quickly. But these emotional reactions are track-switching—we’re no longer talking about the issue of inequality, we’re talking about ourselves. When our reality as good and moral people feels threatened, up go the defenses and we stop listening.”
Here we see the shift from “oppressed/oppressor” (i.e. “inequality”), to the defense mechanism of “good/evil”.
“No True Scotsman”, the Muslim version
It’s true that “no true Scotsman” can be a fallacy (the claim that real Muslims, or Christians, etc. don’t do things like that). From what I know about Islam; I’m not even totally sure. Like with the Bible, the Koran is a text that must be taken in context, but it’s really hard to tell when it was (apparently deliberately) rearranged in an anachronistic order (longest surahs to shortest), so you can’t tell which ones were written in the context of war, or of peace, when he was first starting out and facing opposition, when he gained power, etc. You’ll just see both the “love all men” passages that nonviolent Muslims (as well as the rest of secular and liberal religious society that believes “all religion is about peace and love”) appeal to, but then you also see the violent “kill the infidels” passages that both the “radical” Islamists and Christians claiming it is by nature a violent religion, appeal to. Who is “the true Scotsman” in this case? I would like to believe that the peaceful Muslims are the “true” ones, and the violent passages were taken out of context, but then I see how people do tend to water down religion, as has been done in Judaism and Christianity.
So is it love all men, except those already our enemies? Or hate all men, except those who are already in our community? It seems people are having a hard time sorting out the context.
But the problem is looking in terms of monolithic entities; a religion or nation or political system or race or sexual orientation, as an entity in itself, rather than consisting of individual people. So even if the religious texts did intend for followers to “kill the infidels”, and modern adherents have “watered it down”, you still can’t hold them responsible for the “radicals”. You have to give them credit for changing the belief, even if you think it is inconsistent.
Behind White Supremacy and “merit”
To further expond what I discussed here: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/racial-rhetoric-becoming-worse-it-seems/#comment-3863
These people display a deep anger and resentment, centered around they or their ancestors’ achievements compared with blacks’ or others supposed lack of achievement (and what this supposedly ends up requiring from them).
They obviously think “the world” owes THEM something (they don’t say “life” or “God”, but instead direct blame at other people for taking or withholding what they believe God or life had already granted them). What’s “owed” is that the power their ancestors gained be passed down to them. To receive “their nation” back. To be given something they didn’t actually work for; their forefathers took from someone else, and others came behind them and moderated it so that one group is no longer as dominant. It was an expectation that is not coming true (and unmet “expectations” are the source of nearly all our nonphysical pain).
But what they have missed, is that if “life” (nature and evolution), or “God” could take from others to give to them in the first place, then they could also take from them and give to others (Job 1:21). But they never think of that (and it seems no one even bothers to point this out to them. Nothing in them seems to indicate that in a world of imperfection, loss and not having your way, the “exceptional” truth-is-[always]-on-your-side position and its supposed rewards, which they are claiming for themselves, is “too good to be true“).
They then use “merit” as the rationale for their demand, but whatever good they have done is from God (and they often acknowledge this), but still marred by human sin and imperfection (which is where they are running afoul). So no people or nation have ‘earned’ eternal rule over the earth.
They really believe they are “less sinful” than others, by race. And where was the Church all the generations these beliefs were allowed to fester? Going along with it, or at best covering it up.
Conservatives (whether religious, political or “cultural”) don’t understand the full extent of the fallen human nature. They think because they have made the “right” choices, they have “grown” past the same sinful tendencies that plague the rest of humanity
Robert Reich and especially Tim Wise explode the concept of “merit” as used in political rhetoric (such as the ideal of this system as a “meritocracy”) in their books. See:
https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/book-review-robert-reich-beyond-outrage/https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/book-review-wise-under-the-affluence The qz article continues: “In life, there are certain chain reactions at play that lead some people straight to the top and leave others at the bottom. The myth of meritocracy gets in the way of seeing this—we all want to hold onto our story that we’re strong, smart, and deserve everything we have.”
In what we see in the rugged individualist “merit” rhetoric, “pride” becomes good. Conservative Christians long preached against “human pride”, when the “godless” in the world boast of their achievements (including political systems or scientific advancement) , but only “without God”. But when it comes to “western exceptionalism”, they then use some of these same points as proving their superiority. So it’s not that it’s bad in itself; certain forms of pride are OK; namely when you can credit God for your success.
These merit-based philosophies are making people become obnoxious. You may have a handle on how to navigate the tangible world (i.e. the way you carry yourself among people, or the way your economic philosophy is enacted), but that doesn’t mean that you trash other people verbally just because that’s the sort of motivation you think is good, for yourself. (The “secular” among these teachers act just as much “absolute” as their religious counterparts, but if those religious were to begin speaking in absolutes about biblical morality and conversion, then the less religious or nominals would begin saying there are no absolutes, and whatever way works best is good for you, but don’t force your own “truth” on anyone else.
And as the Christians often remind us, There are plenty of people who make it in the tangible world who are still miserable).
Between the tough talk, the weak-shaming, idealization of “political incorrectness” and looking up to Trump and his antics, and the defenses used by white supremacists, this “rugged individual” philosophy is making us become a nation of cold, uncaring, uncivil, harsh (and often increasingly foul)-tongued brutes, as much as we pride ourselves on the “exceptionality” of our “civilization”, “culture” and “character”. (See https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/why-grace-doesnt-seem-to-make-anyone-nice/#comment-3508
What is the Gospel for, now?
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what is not the Gospel, or what contradicts it, (namely, all forms of “merit”), or how it shouldn’t be used. But now is a good time to discuss how it should be used.
Even though the Fulfilled View removes the whole “condemnation” premise (and thus seems to remove the need to spread the Gospel, to “save souls”), it is still “good news” that has a reason to be shared. The thing is, it’s most likely not with most Westerners, who’ve already made their “decision” in regards to Jesus Christ or whatever other religion or philosophy they believe in. This is the source of most “debate”, and enagaing in it for over 20 years, and watching current events debates over homosexuality, transgenderism, and the role religion is to play in society and government, I see it is largely a waste of time. Then you read again Christ’s statement (in instructing His first disciples on how to share the news), that if the people in a place have already “made their decision” (against, basically), then to “leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14, Luke 10:11). Staying and arguing is, again, wasting time and energy. If it brings a violent reaction from the people, then it becomes what He also referred to as “Giv[ing] that which is holy unto the dogs, [or] cast[ing] your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and tear you.” (7:6. The point is of course not to stick your nose up at unbelievers and call them dogs or swine. The people these passages were originally referring to were obstinate lawkeepers, not “worldly” unbelievers, but since the evangelical Church insists the commission to “preach the Gospel to every creature” is still for them, then it follows that these instructions on how to do it and what to do and not to do would be as well).
The only reason anyone would waste their time and energy (and possibly lives) like that is because their own ego has some investment in that place. Like “it’s our nation, and we want to take it back”. Or it’s just where you’re used to, and you don’t want to go somewhere unfamiliar (at least not permanantly, or to keep moving). So we stay in place, feeling at home in this “world” (that we sing is “not our home”), but still feel the need to “do our part to ‘help build up the kingdom'” (and get “crowns in Heaven”). Even if you emphasize it’s “for the people’s souls”, then again, most have made their decision, and while you may be trying to catch “whomsoever will”, Jesus did say not to stay in a city, mining for such souls (Luke 10:7b).
In any case, you’ve moved completely off of a God-centered focus, and from the “Commission” you say you’re following.
So, following the musical career of Steely Dan, and particularly main writer and keyboardist Donald Fagen, and how he would write a song attacking God, in reaction to his mother dying of Alzheimer’s (on top of some of the other wild stuff he wrote and sang about), then he’s not someone who would recognize the Gospel as “Good News”, and not someone I would want to try to convert (unless he had already come to “the end of himself” and was looking into it. Otherwise, he’s clearly made his “choice”).
However, it was upon hearing an unreleased song, called “Kulee Baba”, that was apparently about the way western media would cover an African tribal ritual (which he is portraying as some sort of good “cultural” thing, though described in language such as “The frightening finale, the rite that you’re beholding”), it conjured for me images of the potential horrors of tribal life, as practiced by some.
Not only that, but the escalating rhetorical race tension in this country, where you’ll occasionally see people make fun of African culture, or (in the context of today’s “political correctness” where everyone is “too sensitive”) talk about old banned cartoons from the 30’s or 40’s that make fun of it, also added to this at the same time. Like those disks women will place in their earlobes, or even their lips. (I’ve seen this spoofed on old Tex Avery Looney Tunes as well as old Popeyes. Probably plenty of other places, but now all censored if not compltely banned). I had also seen this in a documentary a long time ago, on the stuff women do in tribal cultures, and it also mentioned in China, the ultimate exaggeration of them having smaller feet (which is supposed to be “feminine”), where they squeezed them down to be little longer than the diameter of their leg bones.
So recently this made me think of who the Gospel would be good to share with: basically, tribal cultures. (And especially given now that the Darién Gap project just came up out of nowhere and interrupted this one, set for my vacation week. Part of the problem with pushing the highway through is the indigenous peoples who still live there, with tiny villages accessible only by foot paths).
These particular tribes seem very peaceful (and often help out hikers through the rainforest). But then, other tribes around the world will have canibalism and human sacrifice, other gruesome ritual, the ongoing maintaining of bloody animal sacrifices (where most other religions have replaced them in one way or another), and even child rape (the shamans reportedly had been telling African tribesmen this would cure AIDS), and other stuff like female genital mutilation.
Most “politically correct” liberals would likely still oppose trying to replace the practices of these “other cultures” with this “western concept” as they see it, even with the fire and brimstone removed. But look, right off the bat, those latter two things are something the liberal activist world has spoken out a lot about. They wouldn’t mind those things being ended!
Most of these rituals come from the same place just about all religious ritual and other efforts come from, and that’s the need to appease the gods (or God, as syncretistic religions such as Santeria might acknowledge). “Appeasement” is doing something to gain the pardon or favor of the other party. So it’s the same thing as the most “kosher” lawkeepers or “holiness” adherents of the monotheistic religions. Man’s “works” to save himself.
The futility of these efforts is not changed by the notion of afterlife condemnation (“eternal death”) being abolished. It’s no longer about the fear of Hell, but rather they are following things that are not from God, that are exacting a lot of unneeded and useless pain or burdens upon people (including the poor children born into this, without even any choice).
So Christ’s fulfillment of all of that, as the ultimate “sacrifice”, then is still “good news” to them, even if it’s not about Hell.
It also would be good news for those trusting in their heritage for some sort of personal worth. This is what drives white supremacy. Their ancestors did horrible things, and they can’t accept it. So they justify it, by at best “that’s just the way they did things back then”, and at worst, the people colonized and enslaved were inferior and/or “cursed”. The nation was really “exceptional”, and the descendents today not doing well simply lack character (if not being, again, naturally inferior). There is so much wrong today, but it’s all the “liberals” or other groups of people’s fault. They rebuff any association with the evils of the ancestors, saying it wasn’t them, or even that their actual ancestors weren’t here yet, or didn’t own slaves. Yet they identify with those ancestors or unrelated founders when it comes to the “good” of the nation.
If they really trusted in Christ (and truly understood Grace), and did not seek identification with the righteousness of the past Americans (which is exactly what the Israelites of Christ’s time were doing with their lineage), then they wouldn’t be so uptight (or feel “guilt-manipulated”) about the evils of the nation (like slavery and racism) when pointed out. The good and evil go together, and there is no way to split off the evil. You just end up putting it on other people, and that just causes strife. Each person stands before God on his own, not inheriting others’ goodness, or being dragged down by their badness, which you then must deny as if your own justification depended on it.
But again, many of these people have made their decision, and are fiercely sticking by it.
So the whole notion of “merit”, in all of its forms, labels and judgment, is bad news. It’s the knowledge of good and evil that leads to everything from child sacrifice to moral shaming to political oppression. It leads one group of people to show up on the shores of another, and not only say “we’re taking over!”, but also “we’re [still] in the right, and you’re suffering for being in the wrong”—”because we have ‘character’ and you don’t!”
From there we get centuries of pain and strife to come, with guilt, denial and increasingly heated reverse-blaming, along with an atmosphere lacking any empathy, and instead, full of “victim”-mocking and “weak-shaming”. It continues to lead people today to try to tear into others with “truth” in a “no excuses, no nonsense” fashion, but in the process forget that they too don’t have it all “licked” either, and can still be wrong; and thus lacking any humility or grace, and just creating more bad feelings, and thinking it’s justified. This is often done as part of a cold answer to people’s suffering. They “did it to themselves”, unlike me, who “just grabbed the bull by the horns and pulled my bootstraps”.
This is the religion of the Devil, who is an “accuser“, leading people to deny their sin, compare to others’ (2 Cor.10:12), and then create strife and even possibly, war from that, along with the rest of “the works of the flesh” (Gal.5). This is basically the “law” of the Kingdom of Hell!
Christ is the Good News that answers all of that (even if not instantly ending all pain). May people who claim to believe the Gospel learn to really and consistently apply this to their beliefs and teachings.