Elias presents ... a worm!    Thoughts on family, philosophy,
and technology


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Go Religion! -- because we really miss the Dark Ages

If only I designed bumper stickers....

I've been learning a little more about world history lately, and I'm newly impressed by how destructive religion always has been.

Found this spot-on tirade via Google:

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Elias goes to bed

Elias turned 9 months old on Sunday. It's just a number, but it makes me very happy. We enjoy Elias more, and I think Elias enjoys being Elias more, the older he gets.

I want to record what the nightly ritual is, since it will probably be completely different in a year: I give him a bath at 7pm, during which he sits in a bath seat and fends off wind-up sharks and scuba divers, chews on sponge letters, and screams at rubber duckies. I serenade with Ernie's "Rubber Ducky" song. Then Amy dries him, oils him, and gets him into pajamas. My turn again, I read up to a half-dozen books with Elias. _Huggy Buggy Shapes_ is his original favorite, the first book he liked (and the swirl shape is positively captivating). _Goodnight Gorilla_ and _Goodnight Moon_ are also indispenable. Next I slowly carry Elias from room to room to room, singing "The ABC Song" twice, "You are My Sunshine" twice, then "Rockabye Baby" three times -- repeat. To begin with, he has to have his back to me so that he can kick his legs and swing his arms. It's an exciting time! There's lots of talking and "singing". But within 15 minutes the head is too heavy, so I turn him chest to chest and he slumps down on me -- although there's usually quite a bit more noise ("oooooooo!") to be made as he watches the scenery change. Eventually this stops, the eyes stay shut, and I can either call in Amy, or try to put him down without waking him, which is much harder than it sounds.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The vice of enduring vice

The destructiveness of an act of vice is never isolated. A moral transgression drags down everyone and everything it touches, in many diffirent ways -- and it is especially corrosive to those who do not or cannot consciously reject and repudiate it.

An act of dishonesty such as a white lie, for example, is often met with toleration in our culture. There is indeed a strong temptation among most people to excuse, ignore, and endure the "little failings" of their friends. One motivation for this can be the computation that the white lie is a very small blemish on an otherwise moral character -- and this is a partially rational analysis. Another motivation computes (often subconsciously) that the vice is very small compared to how greatly one likes the friend. This is obviously unjust, but is also very common.

If a white lie is endured, if it is not identified as wrong and bad (with appropriate scope and response), then one becomes full victim to it, because to accept or excuse a lie is to treat a falsity as more important than the truth, and a liar as more important than oneself. In this way, one person's dishonesty may cause another's -- IF the other fails to accept the responsibility of judgement.

The situation is complicated by the fact that ethics is an unknown science today: moral evaluation is thought to be either baselessly religious or baselessly subjective, and there is very little room in between. (Even the simplest of moral ideas, that murder is wrong, is often controversial for this reason: is a suicide bomber who decimates a wedding a murderer ... or is he a hero of Islam? or a faultless pawn of geopolitical forces?) This is in fact why the phrase "white lie" exists, to conceptually demarcate a whole class of dishonesty which is supposed to be morally neutral or even good. Given this, well-intentioned people today will say they like a friend's new dress -- or new romantic partner -- when they actually feel the opposite way. Such dishonesty is still dishonest, though the culpability is modified by an analysis of the person's motivation.

It is the Age of Skepticism which makes the failure to morally judge possible on such a grand scale. The daily toleration for millions of acts of vice across the planet would not be possible without the worm of nihilism at the heart of modern culture.

The proper response to dishonesty is always to identify it, fully and honestly. The proper course of action is then contextual -- from a raised eyebrow, to a full public denunciation. There are too many factors to name here. But the principle stays the same in all cases, because the root fact is always this: an act of vice is destructive, so to "go along" with one is to go along with an act of destruction.