Posted in moral philosophy, tagged Benny Thomas, cause and effect, collateral damage, fallen state, l'affaire Dreyfus, moral compass, moral imperative, Napoleon, no man's land, waterloo on November 4, 2015|
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In the previous post we discussed about no-man’s land where old rivalries and unfinished business of history are filed away. For anyone who studies history it shall become apparent no war has ever finished with a clean cut. A battle would require some ten thousand little skirmishes which may not catch the headlines. In the ignominious defeat of France in June.1940 lay the devil-seeds of the unsettled business of 1793-94 coming to fruition. The nation that set out to bury the Bourbon dynasty will grovel themselves before imperialist ambitions of Napoleons. Having lost the moral compass what do such genuflections mean? Some glory! some shameless antics!
Napoleon had lost the battle of Waterloo even before it was waged. Napoleon Bonaparte who assumed the title of the emperor of France showed by a series of victories he was worthy to be included among the immortals such as Alexander and Julius Caesar. His brilliant victories created such a condition he could not have sat idle with such a powerful army battle hardened and disciplined under his command. Thus he was caught in the crest of a wave that took him to his Russian campaign. Disaster was the result. What went wrong? Napoleon was weighed in the balance of humanity and was found wanting. Like the king in the book of Daniel.
Morality of man is not without reason compared to a compass. It covers the entire spectrum of man’s conduct through time and place. When Napoleon’s humanity,- and it can only be judged in his interaction with others, there was a serious problem. His ambition did not see people as people but as means to aggrandize himself. (Same mentality can be seen in the manner the French Army threw Captain Dreyfus to ignominy in order to protect its avaunted ‘gloire.’) This moral fault is worse than blindness. Your soul is affected. Physical blindness robs you of vision but leaves the harmony of celestial spheres in tact. It paints in fact colors that the world with its lurid colors can never match. Moral blindness is terrible. It makes you miss your place in the moral compass. You look at it and whatever you see there is anything other than your own humanity. It is almost a hell you have created even before you gave up your ghost, to use the expression in the Bible.
Each of us is like man with one foot in the sticky mess of morass of our own making. On a moral plane our culpability is that of being part of humanity. ‘No man is an island’ as Donne said it famously. This is collateral damages we need accept on a moral plane. In terms of Christian theology we need see it also refers to our fallen state.
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Reciprocity in social psychology refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. When you smile at a stranger at a neutral ground say on the street you find him smiling back which is a reciprocal action. It is how man is made aware of his own place and of himself in relation to other. You prove yourself friendly and you are rewarded instantly by the selfsame token of friendliness. There is a cause a slot which you fill, only to be found by another falling into a slot which is that of effect. In short cause and effect are one to one relationship into which our social nature fits us. We initiate certain actions as a cause for others to respond accordingly.
Suppose on the eve of Crystal night (on 9–10 November 1938), if a Jew were to meet a German the response of the Jew would not have been as simple as mentioned above. The German who smiled may have been an ordinary citizen but the pogrom carried out SA paramilitary troops would have made such effusion in return as next to impossible. Events occurring elsewhere made their one to one exchange one that of suspicious. Shall we say that cause did not connect with effect in a straight forward fashion? The events from outside come in between us to make our responses complex. What emotional cues that guide me need not necessarily be understood by another. We shall see how from the contradictory nature of human personality. A clown who makes every one in stitches is often the saddest man who need break into laugh lest he break up. Charlie Chaplin comes to my mind.
Since we humans as social animals have no other place than the earth to escape into, all events and their consequences are assumed as our collective responsibility to which we have no way of apportioning blame or praise. Whether we foul up our beds or douse them with perfume we all need lie together for better or worse. Law of reciprocity makes such cause and effect relationship hold together for our understanding.
It is said, one man’s gains is at another man’s loss. Obama could have become the President in 2008 only at the cost of Romney losing his bid. Thereafter his taking up with the Sheraton group would mean that his position as a director was at the cost of someone else losing his shot on the Board of directors. Such is the cause and effect relationship that a man’s position is a view of himself into an infinite mirror broken into infinite pieces. In Obama- Romney relationship one is a cause while the other is the effect. Romney likewise is a cause while some other fills the slot of effect. In short no man can be both cause and effect in any relationship. Law of reciprocity distributes each into cause as well as effect in so many order of social relationship.
Having said about redistribution of man in terms of cause and effect after its own order let me indicate the cause and effect is not direct but falls under a corrosive cloud where anyone justifying as innocent is not true. The rise of Hitler owes to such a cloud (as a result of reparations of the Allies as well as their sense of guilt at the harsh penalties they as the victor exacted on the defeated. How Chamberlain’s government played into the hands of Hitler at the Munich Pact is a case in point. Into it we need allow anti-semiticsm of the ordinary Europeans at that time). By the law of Reciprocity the entire German nation was thrust into the effect of Nazism. Once cause and effect played of the result was the Soviet Army marching into Berlin. Think of the human cost? If you need explain moral compass of man, make sense of the cloud into which both cause and effect are drawn.
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Since last December we see the young generation taking out their protest to the streets. Their unscripted demonstrations in Tunisia proved successful. It made the Mubarak regime rue that their hold on power rested on unclaimed grounds and they were not legitimate to lead the country after all.
Such unpredictability of human affairs is written in the sky. Take moon for instance. How did the earth get its moon? The most convincing hypothesis would point to a cosmic impact. We stake our place in the sun but moon has her own plans. Col. Gaddafi may have had plans for a perpetual dynasty but Libya is not a madman’s dream but is reality; and it is determined by people who have been for long browbeaten to silence by foreign mercenaries.
Moon affects the oceans and it makes quite a lot of splash, I can tell you. The earth’s moon creates tides.
Tides hold a force as a disgruntled mob as seen by revolt in the Middle East, and can spread from Tunisia to Egypt. Such protests build up power. Just as it has power to inflict great damage to the existing governments this tidal force is magnified by many other causes than what is apparent: the side of earth facing the moon is more than say by the earth’s far side. The gravitational tide stretches the earth’s oceans into an ellipse with the earth in the center. Consequently we have two bulges— one nearest the moon and one farthest from it. Since these two bulges rotate around the earth once a day as it spins on its axis, ocean water is continuously rushing towards the ever-moving bulges. The effects of the two bulges and the massive ocean currents chasing them are magnified by an interplay of other effects.
Most of the tidal effects seen on the earth are caused by the moon’s gravitational pull, with the sun making only a small contribution. Tidal effects result in an increase of the mean earth-moon distance of about 3.8 m per century, or 3.8 cm per year. Here the inversion principle comes into play.
Since the distance between the moon and the earth is very slightly increasing over time, moon’s effect on the bulges will weaken. But then, how can we say something else would not come into play to make all the difference to our calculations?
Is it God who is in control? Your guess is as good as mine.
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“WASHINGTON – A newly discovered type of oil-eating microbe is suddenly flourishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists discovered the new microbe while studying the underwater dispersion of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf following the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
And the microbe works without significantly depleting oxygen in the water, researchers led by Terry Hazen at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., reported Tuesday in the online journal Sciencexpress.
“Our findings, which provide the first data ever on microbial activity from a deepwater dispersed oil plume, suggest” a great potential for bacteria to help dispose of oil plumes in the deep-sea, Hazen said in a statement.
Environmentalists have raised concerns about the giant oil spill and the underwater plume of dispersed oil, particularly its potential effects on sea life. A report just last week described a 22-mile long underwater mist of tiny oil droplets.
“Our findings show that the influx of oil profoundly altered the microbial community by significantly stimulating deep-sea” cold temperature bacteria that are closely related to known petroleum-degrading microbes, Hazen reported.
Their findings are based on more than 200 samples collected from 17 deepwater sites between May 25 and June 2. They found that the dominant microbe in the oil plume is a new species, closely related to members of Oceanospirillales.”
With no thanks to BP here we have a new species of microbes that come to our aid. These microbial activity has been set into overdrive by an environmental disaster.
Cause and Effect. Lebensraum of Nazi Germany is a cause and surely has its counterpart in effect. So has man’s wanton destruction of rain forests in changing the climate pattern. In the present case massive oil spill must cause microbes to fight back. This is nature’s way of containing excess demands. It works as some kind of moral force whereby what causes so much upset be it a political system or species is given its comeuppance. The Thousand year Reich will come down in 13 years or a fall in temperature bring the dinosaurs to their knees. These checks and balances are woven out of many causes that no one may control for long. Just the same what modifies the rule of the Might that relies on red in tooth and claw is a manifestation of Moral Law. God has no need to attend to the details since Nature has hearkened to the Will of God in her laws, and sees to it. God is not mocked by those who merely follow cause and effect within certain framework and not from moral standpoint.
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‘The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican War, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.’ Instead of Mexican War the reader may insert another say Vietnam War or War in Iraq. Thoreau’s argument for resisting evil governments would be still valid. Recently we read that that America is for greater cooperation with Vietnam. Is it because Vietnam could send the US army home packing? Or perhaps the Communist ideology did not make the people anymore red than the capitalist America did not make Americans any more capitalistic than before? The ideologies are merely eyewash but people are flesh and blood. People are easily hoodwinked.That is all. The Mexican War was for some an advantage as any war is. Only that those few (who stood to benefit) need to expend the lives of so many in order to achieve it. In order to gain their ends they use some smokescreen of slogans and arguments. How come we do not hear anymore imminent threats on terrorist strike as before? The mass media itself found other subjects to spend its attention on than ‘crying wolf!’ It is the duty of every nation to educate their citizens to think straight and share equally the burden of running a good government. Nations that leave the people less informed let the crooked to rank and fester. It may suit their purpose but not for the nation.
‘Vietnam was granted unconditional normal trade relations (NTR) status by the United States in December 2006. … In 2009, Vietnam was ranked 17 among all suppliers of food and … (ack:www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn) One would think that if nations given a better insight and understanding of human nature they could co-exist with one another and enjoy the trade and commerce across the globe. Instead the Vietnam divided the people all over the world and nation against nation. The social revolution that it set off changed America once and for all. Reefers,coke, LSD came out into the open. Then of course many other drugs would appear across campuses and street corners. Heroin will hook many and their insatiable appetite for such drugs will create their own phalanxes of drug pushers.
Footnote: Thoreau wrote his essay when the Mexican War was going on. Mexico may have lost Texas. But did the war settle peace between the USA and Mexico? We do not hear the ringing cry ‘Remember Alamo!’ but instead the war on drugs has spilled across. Drug pushers target ethnic groups and each has his own supply chain and users. Manifest destiny of America is not to be drowned in a pool of blood shed by drug wars. But just the same many innocent families are caught up in it and shall bring many more.
Has peace come to roost south of the border?
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Uncertainty principle ought to teach every life the importance of making a stand even where there is nothing to hope for. Moses was a timid man by nature and it was on him God had entrusted the children of Israel. Consider him stuck between the Red Sea and the chariots of the Pharaoh and his army. Each of us is like Moses in one sense. We are hemmed in by circumstances. The vital point to remember is that circumstances are always on uncertain mode while how we make a stand is on certain mode.
Just because of recession and economic meltdown do we throw down the towel? Do we give up our lives as of no consequence? Do we leave our wives and children in the lurch because some crooks have made off with our life savings?
Circumstances are of uncertain mode while our actions have certainty: energy spent in one sense is part of our energy profile. In addition our options are progressively narrowed according to what choices we make. Our actions after we have finished whether good or bad have a life of their own.
Look at history: At the close of WWII the Allies dropped bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It ushered in the atomic age. What was its effect? The Allies won the war but created a condition for a nuclear war between the USA and USSR. Now the world’s biggest worry is that rogue nations may decide to use one in order to score a point. It may be to prove the devil’s ideology or it may be sheer out of malice. The effect is a no man’s land and makes a mockery of cause for which a nation would make a stand. The WWI was a war to make an end of all wars. We are living still from the hangover of that war.
Tailspin: Circumstance that Moses faced was uncertain but his certainty of God’s promise was rooted in something else. What is our certainty in our everyday lives, (leaving aside connotations of God,) but our character?
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Continuing from the previous post in order to make history one must have a correct sense of timing. Man follows certain trends and would know how to exploit them. Man makes history by his understanding of his world and to his time and place in particular. The latter is crucial. Mao Tse Tung in China fashioned a strategy ‘as fishes in the sea’ which adapted IRA commander Michael Collin’s idea of ‘safe houses.’ Mao took urban guerrilla warfare to fit the Chinese context. Thus man hitches his fortunes to events already unfolding by adapting strategies already tried before. Man is thus only a bridge for changes of very short duration. Beyond which how his vision and mission undergoes changes no one can foretell. Mao’s polices were replaced by Deng Xioping. Having survived the Cultural Revolution and other mass political movements of the Mao era he was instrumental in introducing a new brand of socialist thinking, socialist market economy and partially opened China to the global market.
Man’s control over history is partial.
A man who makes history is relevant only for a narrow period of time for the simple reason his active period is too short. His span of life may be four score or more. But by the time he comes to take the center stage about half of it is over. Thus a world leader struts and throws his weight around for a certain period while events that have had their origin long before would have entered into several other areas in order to change the social and cultural landscape. Like the mythical Hydra, upon cutting off each of its heads Herakles found that two grew back. No man quite control each development before it moves into other areas as well. The Cluster principle gives no man a complete hold over all the events that cannon into any one of the chain of events. These collision will create new issues that need to be addressed.
In the case of Tien Wang who led the Taiping rebellion, he succeeded partly because of the Ming regime that had entrenched itself into the national life. He could convert those who had benefited under their rule but the Ming dynasty itself came to power by supplanting another dynasty. How these cross currents work out no one can tell. For example we need to rely once again turn to Taiping Revolt. Tien Wang began the revolt in concert with the Triads who were for bringing back the Ming regime. Tien Wang’s aim was more of a theocratic rule himself as a brother of Jesus Christ. (In his concept of Trinity god, the Father, Christ the son, and himself was the other brother.) The man who would ultimately bring him down Tseng Kuo-fan had no Tartar blood as the Manchu masters. He was not a supporter of the Manchu regime. But he was believer in Confucianism and had no use for Christian Taipings. In a welter of cause and effect man who makes history has a walk on part in terms of posterity.
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