Morality (as I see it) in action - pt I

This is an exploration in morality as I see it. It is in parts that should be read in order.
I start off with the assumptions and basic moral principles I believe. This list is merely in the order I thought to include them, I do not see them in this order.

  • I believe that there is "evil" in the world, that it is always perpetrated by people, often in the name of something they see as "good" whether that is a selfish "good" or not. "Evil" is a social thing and while it differs across religious/cultural boundaries, I believe there are a few things that are considered wrong to the point of "evil" by the basic tenets of almost every tribe, religion, and nation. By "evil" I mean selfish action by individuals and groups that severely limits other individuals or groups from also realizing themselves in non-"evil" ways. Some examples I see are killing, inciting others to kill, restraining people without proof, torture, genocide, combat that is not in self defense or mutually agreed upon (boxing, for instance), and forcing people to live in ghettos or other forms of poor spaces by limiting their free movement. I believe there may be justifications for some of these actions such as self defense or extreme pain but these justifications are very rare (torture, genocide, and ghettoizing have no justifiable examples that I can think of). I believe that watching something happen and not opposing it is wrong and should not happen, but I do not see it as evil. I see these things as evil when they are done personally or in an impersonal manner, though this may be a false distinction since it's always personal to those affected.

  • "Good" is always personal. I do not believe there is any sort of universal "good." There is a good for masochists that differs from the good for most people but even there, for hurting a masochist not to be wrong, it must be agreed upon or in self defense.

  • I do not believe that belief in any god or even anything beyond consciousness is necessary to live morally as I see it. I do believe in something beyond individual consciousness, though I'm not exactly sure what. While I take comfort in this belief, I do not see it as necessary to behave morally and I understand that I may be wrong.

  • Ideas in themselves can not be evil. Action alone can be evil. No matter how misguided I see their ideas, if a racist group proposes merely to non-violently separate and limit themselves from any interference or interaction with their hated group(s), this is acceptable and I don't feel that I can classify it as evil. If a group sees themselves as god's chosen people or special or otherwise superior, as many groups do, this also is not evil, though I see it as misguided. Either of these strains of superiority can lead to selfish actions that limit others but, as long as those actions are not taken, the ideas are just that, ideas, and they should be engaged and confronted with other ideas or let to stand, ignored.

  • People should have a part in decisions to the degree they are affected. I understand this would be difficult and likely impossible but I believe that "a part in decisions to the degree...affected" is a theoretical limit to fairness, equality in decision making, and non-coercion that we, as a species, should aspire to. "Limit" I mean as a limit in mathematics is the line that a curve may approach but never quite be able to reach no matter how close it appears to get. I do not feel that representative democracies or market economies even approach or try to approach this measure. (for a more detailed view of what I mean by "People should have a part in decisions to the degree they are affected" see Parecon: Self Management)

  • As I see it, the only way to justify self defense is to be attacked, literally, by the individuals and those responsible above them in the chain of command you are defending yourself from. That if a person or group escalates the situation, returning fists to some one's cold remark, they are an aggressor. Self defense must be an equivalent or lesser action to those already acted upon you. Civilians and infrastructure that civilians depend upon for survival should not be targeted. This applies to terrorists killing innocents and to "targeted" assassination of terrorists that end up killing innocents. Preemptive strikes are not self-defense by this measure.

  • It is only by trying to live up to the moral views we hold others to that we can say anything of comparing morality between ourselves and others. I concede that I am a failure by my own measure. I believe we must explore these issues, that exploring these issues is important however flawed we are according to our own standards. We need to find out what those standards are in order to try to live up to them.

  • I feel that state and organizational actors (both the entities themselves and those who hold power within those entities when acting in their official capacity) must behave to higher standards than individuals since they generally have more power to throw around and, often, an enforced monopoly on violence and coercion within their borders, area, or purview. I also believe there are other reasons for this such as having to answer to groups of people and have rules that many individuals can agree upon. With this great power comes greater responsibility, particularly in an age with nuclear weapons and a society so large and fragmented that each of our knowledge is so specialized.

  • I believe that there are many ways to oppose or confront ideas and actions that we dislike without the use of force and coercion. Sometimes they do require the threat of force or a show that one is unwilling to back down on these issues but refusing to move is a different matter than lashing out. They both require a willingness to risk but one is active upon the other person while the other is active only with regards to oneself.

  • I believe that respect is all we can ask. Love is a strong emotion and perhaps some can love all equally but it is more than I can do and definitely more than we can ask of everyone. By respect I primarily mean fairness, living up to one's agreements or providing explanation for why one can't, honesty, and an attempt to understand the other's point of view. We should not put on a false smile or otherwise deny our own feelings and humanity for anyone since this is disrespectful to ourselves. It is also our duty to let those who disrespect us know that they have disrespected us in no uncertain terms, in the hopes that they will alter their behavior though we can not force them to. If someone seems unaware that they have upset us or offended us and we merely are upset but do not tell them directly, if we talk about it indirectly hoping that they will understand and be shamed, it is only our fault that they have not changed their behavior in that instance. It is only our fault that they don't understand because we are not being clear, we are trying to protect ourselves with plausible deniability and that is not respectful because it is dishonest or at least leaving a space for dishonesty which is inherently dishonest. We can not expect others to see with our eyes if we do not tell them what we see. If we tell them and they still do not see, then it is on them, but we have done our duty.