Friday, December 11, 2015

Credit, But Only When It's Due"

I am thinking – metaphorically – about Ghandi.  (Leaving room beneath that metaphorical umbrella for myself, so as to confront the issue indirectly, and by so doing, retain a modicum of self-respect.  Although a minimal one, as modicums go.)

I do not know a lot about Ghandi, so if I inadvertently disparage him in the following regard, I apologize.  But judging from photographs and mostly the movie Ghandi, the Mahatma does not seem particularly, what you would call “Buff.” 

Few perceptible muscles through his Mahatma-garb.

The great leader for Indian independence was, as we know, a champion of “Passive Resistance” a form of peaceful protest that excludes violence.  (As “peaceful protests” must to retain the attribution:  “Peaceful Protest.”  There have been violent “peaceful protests”, but the violence came exclusively from the other side, the “peaceful protesters” focusing on hanging in for as long as possible and then, sensibly, scampering away.) 

The question, putting the two above tidbits of information together is…

Was Ghandi non-violent because he didn’t have any muscles?

Or would he have been equally as non-violent had he worked out regularly at the Indian equivalent of Gold’s Gym?

This question, of course, is impossible to answer, as there was no “Control Ghandi” and “Experimental Ghandi” for comparative study.  But do you see what I’m getting at here?

Where does our behavior come from?

Is what I am trying to understand.

It is not easy to come up with an answer.  Although that answer seems, to me, to be important.

If a person commits to a policy of non-violent protest because they sincerely believe in non-violent protest, saber hacking and horse tramplings come what may – they are, to my way of thinking, and perhaps others’ as well, behaving in a manner that is both admirable and courageous. 

On the other hand, if they espouse the policy of non-violent protest because they does not have any muscles and are aware that they are highly unlikely to prevail in violent confrontation…

That appears to be less admirable. 

And hardly, if at all, courageous.

So there’s a difference.  Not in action – or in the case of non-violent protest, inaction – but in underlying motivation.

“I will not do that!”

is not the same as

“Are you kidding me?  I’ll get massacred!

What do you think? 

Do our values infuse our proclivities?  Or do our proclivities generate our values?

Consider these alternatives:

“She’s a giver.”

Because she has a good and generous heart and believes that it is better to give than to receive.

“She’s a giver.”

Because she has discovered that if she were not a giver, nobody would ever notice she was there.  (A knock by the late Christopher Hitchens about Mother Teresa.)

“He’s a champion of sexual liberation.”

Because he opposes the unhealthy repression of natural impulses.

“He’s a champion of sexual liberation.”

Because it leads to greater opportunities for sex.  (Is Hugh Hefner really that attractive?)

The same consequence – contrasting motivations.

One’s outer-directed.

The other, entirely self-serving.

Does it really ultimately matter?

I don’t know. 

I personally would like to understand my behavior.  And whether I deserve credit for that behavior, or not.

I have been known, on occasion, to make sad people chuckle.

But I am not at all certain I have done it for them.


JED said...

Even a physically weak person could incite others to violence if they chose to. A saint's motivations can be twisted in many ways by someone with an agenda (and he certainly did have one). I must be careful saying anything about Mr. Hefner because my motivation could be misconstrued as sounding like jealousy (but I'll bet the thought of having girls wanting to be at his house in very little clothing was a pretty good motivator).

I'm told that a lot of great chefs become what they are because they like to eat good food. I got into science and technology because I enjoyed science fiction. You've made the rest of us laugh and look at the world a little differently and if you have gotten pleasure out of that, what is so bad? If you didn't enjoy what you do, how long would you have done it? You could grit your teeth and say, "I'm going to make these people laugh, damn it!" But I don't think I'd watch that show for long.

Boyd said...

You did it for both...if they didn't laugh, you would have been out of work. That was easy, what's next?

Unknown said...

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