Tag: morality

The Importance of the Individual in Life

By Nickolas Roberson | United States

The individual has been prominent throughout the entirety of human history, both in reality and mythology. In almost every instance of ancient culture, and even modern culture, there is the story of the hero facing the dragon. The hero isn’t represented by any group or collective, he represents Himself, the Individual. He is the culmination of domination and human will, the innate force to strive for achievement. This achievement could be happiness, freedom, or any other personal means. This hero’s goal is to slay the dragon and retrieve the lost gold or save the princess and kingdom. The dragon obviously represents evil, but what kind of evil? The answer is incredibly subjective. The abomination that is said dragon could be the collective that wishes to extinguish the flame of individuality, and it could very well be the flaws of human nature; in the Christian world, the dragon represents Satan, wickedness, or sin.

Ancient, archetypal stories that provide symbols and guidelines to living life beg the question: why is the individual important? Why should I, an ordinary human being, care about individuality? Without individuality, the core foundations of your life fall apart and your life loses its meaning. You become a lost soul without any personal guiding force in your life. Unfortunately, this has happened to quite a number of people in society today. They begin to lose their individuality and sense of Self, and adopt disgusting and weak, yet tantalizing, views of nihilism—they deem that life is meaningless, the void will consume all, and the wild, passionate flame of the Individual has been extinguished with no hope of coming to light again. In their eyes life is only, and will ever be, suffering.

Indeed, life is suffering. It’s full of poverty, sickness, sorrow, tyranny, and death. Yet we, the human race, prevail; we’ve been doing so for over a millennium. How? Through determination, willpower, and individuality. We steeled and fortified ourselves against the howling winds of extreme chaos and suffering. Through innovation, order, and freedom we established a foothold and prosperous society in the world. That is what these followers of nihilistic principles need to realize: yes, life is suffering, but it is your responsibility to find meaning in life. That meaning is found in being an individual, being determined, having willpower and by allowing human nature to run its course.

Discover and establish a balance of chaos and order in your life; be innovative, free, and find happiness. Allow your individuality to burn bright and run free, like a stallion running through a dew-filled prairie in the early morn. Fight against the endless suffering of life and defeat the dragons of evil.


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Morality Should Not Determine Legality

By Ian Brzeski | United States

For many people, morality is relatively subjective. To some, sex before marriage is a sin, and to others, it is perfectly reasonable. Some people love taking drugs, and others are appalled by them. People of all kinds differ in their values on these issues and on many others such as access to guns, homosexuality, and prostitution. Whether or not committing a particular act falls under someone’s values, everyone should realize that committing victimless “crimes” should not be punished by the state.

What are Victimless Crimes?

In essence, a victimless crime is a “crime” under the law where there is no identifiable victim. It is performed when no other person or party is involved in the action taking place beside the perpetrator or consenting adults. Consuming drugs is a prime example of a victimless crime. The only party that person would potentially be harming in that act alone would be himself. He or she willingly chose to engage in this act; thus, there is no victim. The same goes for that person when they engage in obtaining the drugs through consensual means. These means include joining into a contract with his “dealer.” The two adults here both agree on terms in this exchange. The dealer provides the drugs, and the consumer provides a means of exchange for his desired goods, presumably money.

Freedom of Choice

Locking people up like caged animals for committing victimless, nonviolent crime is complete nonsense. It does not matter what a person’s morality says about drugs. One could think that they are awful and downright immoral, but that does not change the fact people can do as they please as long as no other person is harmed or brought into unwanted affairs. Those people, out of their own free will, chose to engage in that exchange and then go on with their lives as they please. Nobody was hurt, and everything was purely consensual. Fundamentally, it is not that much different than going out and buying groceries.

If you do not like drugs, don’t do them. Nobody forces you to take them, and if somebody does force you, then that is a crime in itself as it takes away your freedom to make those decisions for yourself. Just as people want the freedom to decide to say no to drugs, others should also have the freedom to take drugs without fear of being imprisoned by the state. It is inconceivable to think that drug abusers belong in a prison cell. Drug abusers need help, not prison time.

While incredible amounts of funding have gone towards decreasing drug use, the drug addiction rate is the same as it was about 40-50 years ago. Instead of spending over a trillion dollars in incarcerating these people, spending should be focused on helping these addicts. Portugal decided to do this about 17 years ago, decriminalizing all drug use and focused their spending on rehabilitation for drug users. At one point, about 1% of Portugal’s population were drug abusers, and now that number has been halved.

The same decriminalization practices should be used for prostitution, pornography, owning guns, and any other victimless crime. If you do not like any of these things, then don’t partake in them- it’s as simple as that. Not to mention that decriminalizing and accepting all of these would make them safer. No more back alley pimps who abuse and drug their prostitutes to make a quick buck. No more sketchy and untrusting drug dealers who may lace their products. No more massive cartels as the majority of their products would be legally imported in the country; thus, losing the majority of their funding. Everything listed here would run as a legitimate business which would then promote competition, naturally making these businesses safer. Interdiction on all of these things is no different from the prohibition of alcohol, and we all know how well that went.

Legalization in Amsterdam

I recently went to Amsterdam where marijuana, certain psychedelic drugs, and prostitution are all legal. The prostitution is all kept in one sector of the city, known as the Red Light District. The Red Light District was bustling with people and seemed as if it were just another business center. These businesses are basically “forced” to care for the health of their laborers as they would have an incentive to because it would be horrible for business if one of their workers had some disease such as an STD. One could find drugs anywhere, but nobody is forcing others to take them. If you want to smoke a blunt, then you can, and if you do not want to, then you do not have to.

The overall cleanliness of the city was surprising. One would think that by allowing drug use and prostitution, the city would be pretty dirty, but that is not true in the slightest. Homeless people and garbage on the streets were not to be found, at least from my experience. Amsterdam has experimented with decriminalizing some of these victimless crimes, and it seems to be going pretty well for them.

Victimless crimes are not real crimes. People should not be punished for doing things that do not harm others or their property, and we must put an end to decades of government control over people’s choice of how they treat their bodies.


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Does Political Integrity Exist in American Politics?

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Throughout the political world, a lack of integrity is often fostered for particular party agendas and cronyism more than for the actual, or even perceived, betterment of their respective constituents. These ethical inconsistencies tend to serve companies via cronyism and coercive monopolies, fill the pockets of politicians, get politicians reelected, and help to raise more funding for the political parties-but they can also harm other people. Rather than staying true to a principled ideology such as a Non-Aggression Principle, many politicians do what is seen as best for themselves and those they work closely with rather than the people the politician is meant to be “working for.”

Just What Is Political Integrity?

‘Integrity’ is touted as a value everyone should have, especially a good politician, if they even exist. For some reason, the word ‘integrity’ has shifted in meaning to something more of a strong moral uprightness that never sways from its subjective stance. We typically say that someone has integrity when they tell the truth about something even when it could hurt them, or when someone treats everyone with respect and dignity. Is this correct?

The word ‘integrity’ originates from the Latin word ‘integritatem’ meaning “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” and figuratively it means “purity, correctness, and/or blamelessness.” However, there is more to the word than simply being whole, or pure, in only a circumstance or two, it suggests that the person is consistently integral. In this sense, when someone is consistent, they are said to be standing firm after taking a position, while not ceasing or bending. The word ‘integrity’ has the same core meaning as ‘integer,’ meaning “intact, whole, and/or complete,” while figuratively it means “untainted, and/or upright.”

A Need for Consistency

Therefore, in order to have integrity, one must be consistent in their actions, not compartmentalized or fractioned, while appealing to a higher, nobler, moral standard or ethic. A person with integrity acts in respect to these principles equally throughout their personal life with everyone. So, can a politician have integrity?

In short, yes, a politician can have integrity, but it is much more difficult than what the mass public would like to impart. For a politician to be integral, they must be consistent in their higher moral or ethical stance and not differentiate or sway on that standing depending on the situation. Unfortunately, many people who claim the title of being politically-minded, whether layman or politician, will vary on their so-called principled stance depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Uncommon in American Politics

For example, an American politician will go to great lengths when speaking out against innocent lives being lost within the US, but when it comes to other deaths in other countries they remain silent. Better yet, many help to pass bills that just further the military complex. The same figurative politician may even explicitly state that they do not believe in war or the military industrial complex, while simultaneously implicitly helping to pass bills that provide more benefits for soldiers and military personnel, which in turn incentivizes perpetual growth of the military and the supposedly disdained war hawk behavior.

Even more commonly, the same politician will speak against theft between citizens, yet also advocate for government laws that coerce businesses and individuals, in general, to give to others as a form of “redistribution,” making it plunder of the highest degree. In each of these, the politician is not being consistent in their self-professed ideology, thusly contradicting and fractioned, making the politician lack integrity.

A Universal Ideal

Of course, the concept of ‘integrity’ applies to all people within each of our lives, not just in politics. The best way to self-assess whether you are being integral is to not only consider the consequences of your actions, but also the process by which you came to the consequence. It is also beneficial to discuss your ideologies and philosophy with others that can challenge or help to strengthen your understanding. Consider these ideas and ask yourself the following:

  • Am I harming or threatening to harm myself or others with my actions?
  • Do I appeal to a moral or ethical standard that does not infringe on the negative rights of others?
  • Am I consistent in how I treat people in a moral or ethical manner?
  • Do I act completely different around various people in order for them to like me, approve of me, or to not witness my alternate characteristics?

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Sam Harris and Scientific Morality Show the Height of Hubris

By Kaihua Zhou | United States

Merriam-Webster defines hubris as “exaggerated pride or self-confidence”. It is the most characteristic crime of intellectuals. In so many cases, they identify an existing issue and propose a baseless solution. Such is the case of Sam Harris, who is a philosopher and neuroscientist. Harris draws attention to a serious issue: religious extremism. However, his solution of atheism and scientific morality clearly shows his hubris, as his reasoning is deeply flawed.

Harris: Hubris and Worldview

Perilous pessimism flavors Harris’s worldview. According to him, the root cause of religious extremism is religion itself:

If you really believe that calling God by the right name can spell the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, then it becomes quite reasonable to treat heretics and unbelievers rather badly. The stakes of our religious differences are immeasurably higher than those born of mere tribalism, racism, or politics. -Sam Harris

Note that Harris identifies religion solely as a cause of religious extremism. Economics, government structure, and education do not figure into the equation. Such is Harris’ hubris. If religion is inherently dangerous, we would expect religiously diverse communities to be unstable.

Stability and Religion

However, Singapore, the world’s most religiously diverse nation, is quite the opposite. 34% of its inhabitants are Buddhist, 18% are Muslim, and 14% are Christian. Of course, each religion argues that its truths are universal; their faithful followers believe in eternal consequences.

Despite these distinct religious communities, Singapore enjoys a considerable amount of what Harris calls “human flourishing.” Singapore is economically prosperous: its unemployment rate is about 2.2% and its GDP is 527 billion dollars. Surely, religious life is not the only cause of prosperity, or even necessarily one of them. Nevertheless, it presents a powerful counterexample to the claim that religion alone results in intolerance and instability.

Science and Morality

This flawed explanation of religious extremism is evidence of hubris. Though Harris claims to support scientific approaches to essential questions, he ignores clearly proven evidence that goes against his claim.

In fact, his scientific look at morality appears to be further evidence of his own hubris. Harris views moral questions primary in terms of consciousness:

Without a doubt, it is important to know the facts when looking at moral questions. We understand human flourishing in terms of economics (standards of living, the poverty line) and psychology (mental health). These facts can help alleviate suffering. For example, a proper medical diagnosis of PTSD or depression helps someone cope with their illness.

For Morality, Fact is Not Everything

Still, facts do not provide a compelling reason to be concerned with human suffering. Consider two individuals. One is a lifelong religious leader who has taken an active political role. Another is a former mathematics professor.  Which of these individuals is more likely to have a concentrated understanding of facts? If Harris is correct, the professor will be in a better position to answer moral questions, due to his understanding of fact. They will be more attached to reality and more tolerant, by his own logic.

However, the first man in the scenario is the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. The second, on the other hand, is the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. Where did Harris’ hypothesis fall short? A former mathematics professor is more likely to be unbound by arbitrary dogma. Despite this, Kaczynski was unconcerned whether or not his victims were flourishing.  He perfectly understood that his actions would result in human suffering.

This is not to suggest that Gyatso’s religious beliefs alone have given him greater moral expertise than Kaczynski. This would ignore the sophistication of human motivation. It does, however, refute Harris’ claim that facts can primarily answer moral questions, as Gyatso is not a murderer. It appears that knowledge does not necessarily allow someone to properly answer moral questions. There must, thus, be another way to determine this. Making such rigid criteria allows for vast errors. Not every man wise in fact can answer questions of opinion.

How To Address Religious Extremism

What can we do to address religious extremism? Rule of law, separation of church and state, and freedom of speech provide a beginning.  The United States and much of the West benefit from these institutions. Thankfully, they are largely free of religious violence. This accomplishment did not require societies to wholly abandon their religious traditions and adopt an empirical moral philosophy.

Yet, this is precisely the solution Harris uncompromisingly prescribes. Such is the height of his hubris, seeing science alone as a savior of humanity. Science cannot hope to resolve issues of morality without cooperating or begrudgingly tolerating religion. To say otherwise is to be blinded by pride.


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America Focuses On All The Wrong Problems

By Ian Brzeski | United States

Around the world, horrendous atrocities keep happening and people keep turning a blind eye. We focus on the little problems rather than the larger grand scheme of things.

Life in the Unites States is not as bad as it could be. Our problems are far less problematic than those throughout the world. The average low-income American is far better off than King Louis XIV and John Rockefeller ever were. Humanity has progressed tremendously in recent times, yet we still have the audacity to complain about every little thing. We complain about problems that don’t even carry weight compared to other problems such as how:

For God’s sake, there are more pressing concerns than the ones I just listed. People around the globe are dying at the hands of the United States government. Just the other day a Saudi led airstrike, backed by the United States, killed dozens of Yemeni children on a school bus. The airstrike killed kids on their way to school without any warning. This is utterly detestable. Where is the outrage?

People are quick to work themselves up if Trump says something controversial. But how come when the United States backed Saudi government bombs innocent civilians and children in Yemen you barely hear about it? Don’t even say that the death of these children is a result of collateral damage. We should never consider human lives as collateral damage. I’m not saying that the concerns I listed aren’t problematic, but when comparing the problem of the murder of innocent children to the to the “problem” of income inequality in the workforce it’s clear which one should take preference over the other.

When I turn on the news all that anybody can talk about is Donald Trump. It’s either how Trump is awful because of racism or the greatest because our economy is booming. Nobody ever talks about how he’s currently the head of a government that is supporting Saudi Arabia who is practically committing a genocide against Yemen. The United States along with the U.K. is in a coalition with Saudi Arabia which provides them with weapons, fuel, and other forms of support so they can continue to terrorize Yemen.

This is sickening and nobody is doing anything about it. People would rather smear Trump for racist or sexist comments. Give me a break. How is getting Trump impeached for being subjectively a bad person and for kissing up to Putin more important than the human rights violations happening in Yemen? How is any of that more important than the thousands upon thousands of bombs we drop in the Middle East per year, killing loads of innocent lives? I’m sick of people disliking Trump for all of the wrong reasons.

The strategy of “bombing the shit” out of countries is not unique to Trump and it dates back to Harry Truman who is mainly remembered for dropping atomic bombs on Japan, injuring and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Republicans and Democrats have consistently been dropping bombs in other countries since World War II and people aren’t realizing that it happens under both parties. Obama dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016 and has bombed the most countries since World War II. Trump has also been dropping bombs at unprecedented levels. Having a booming economy is never an excuse for these mass murders ever taking place. All of this is absolutely monstrous and it doesn’t seem that people care at all. We keep electing these mass murderers.

People need to wake up and realize that the mainstream politicians simply don’t care. All the recent presidents have been puppets to the establishment and the track record shows.  If people were half as outraged with the establishment and their wrongdoings as they are with their other minuscule problems, maybe we can stop these massacres from taking place.


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