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Bill1939's avatar

Do you agree with any of these statements?

Asked by Bill1939 (8733points) July 29th, 2014

1. You are satisfied with letting God alone judge, and not concerning yourself with the acts of others beyond determining the risk you imagine they pose to you and yours.
2. You expect that someday you may have to defend yourself and yours physically.
3. You think that the evil one does can be balanced by their suffering.

I do not agree with the first statement. One cannot discern without making judgments. You make a judgment when you recognize the existence of God. Likewise an atheist makes the judgment of creation’s nonexistence. Judgments can arise from critical introspection. Choices arise from self-judgments.

If judgment means the just reward and punishment for a lifetime of deeds, done and failed to do, then of course God alone judges. Who on Earth can know the entirety of another’s life and therefore judge fairly? Besides, knowing how to meet another’s needs is more important than knowing their past. Caring enough to help may be enough to brighten their future, or at least that moment, but to do this one needs to be concerned about others, including the frightening ones.

I do not agree with the second statement. While I know that the potential of the need for defensive measures seems on the rise, I choose not to give credence to my media enhanced fear expecting instead better days to come (Pollyanna). Rising fears of potential perils are bulwarked by the recognition that rage arises from frustration over frequent futile efforts by numerous generations to obsequiously work their way into the economic-middle-class while maintaining a semblance of their traditional culture. Fed paranoid political propaganda pumped out via a media profiting from the message, increases the possibility that one may believe the worst is occurring.

Nor do I agree with the third statement. Suffering is the product of evil. More suffering does not balance the suffering evil caused. Evil is not rational, though it is predictable. Evil arises from one’s easily awoken damaged infantile ego, the dragon within. Attempts to destroy the dragon only empower it. Attempts to mollify and appease it will result in surrender to its voracious appetites. Ignore it, pretend it does not exist, or know nothing of its existence and the dragon will surreptitiously distort the formation of more mature egos, assimilating them when possible and increasingly drawing the locus of consciousness inward. The dragon’s lair is a cave, the womb in a far distant memory.

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23 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

#1 I do not agree with mainly because I am Agnostic and also why we need the elaborate legal system we have in place to do the judging that is needed in our society.

#2 I agree with as I have had to defend myself and loved one in the past and would be a fool to never expect that possibility to happen again sometime in the future.

#3 I do not agree with as there are many very evil people who have suffered and made others suffer and more suffering does not balance things out.

jerv's avatar

#1 Disagree – I am not content to leave the judging to a being who I am not convinced even exists.

#2 Disagree – Been there, done that, and I’m not sure that it won’t happen again.

#3 A bit tricky. Of the three statements, that is the only one that actually requires a bit of thought. But just as there are certain degrees of evil that are too great to be balanced by any means, there are some minor evils that can be atoned for by making the transgressor suffer.
I would conditionally agree; even though I believe that revenge is not usually balance, the universe is a weird enough place that I refuse to believe that such cases are literally impossible either.

thorninmud's avatar

1. I do think that human behavior can’t be adequately explained by thinking in terms of “this person is good” or “that person is bad”, which is judgment in its coarsest form. The roots of any one person’s behavior go way beyond that individual; it’s shaped by so many cultural influences that it becomes impossible to disentangle responsibility in any absolute way. So while I’m not on board with the idea of a God as final arbiter, I do think there’s merit in acknowledging that there are limits to the human capacity for judgment.

But there is a place for recognizing that some people are disruptive to the general well-being. We’ve all developed a set of habitual strategies for navigating life’s challenges. Some of these strategies are cooperative, and others are antagonistic. There’s actually a place for both, but when antagonistic strategies get used in ways that work against the general well-being, corrective action has to be taken. That’s a judgment of sorts; we have to recognize those harmful patterns of behavior for what they are and respond to them.

2. I admit that it’s conceivable that I might have to go into defensive mode at some point. I can certainly imagine some scenarios with that plot line. But I also find that preparing for such an eventuality subtly changes how I relate to the world. For instance, if I were to buy a handgun, learn how to use it, and carry it with me in the world, that alone would shift how I relate to the world in a fundamental way, and not in a way that I want. On the other hand, meeting life with no thought of “me vs. threat” shifts my worldview in a way that I do like.

Certainly, there are people who live in situations that make defense an imminent priority. For me and the vast majority of people I know, that’s not even remotely the case.

3. We’re all in this together, densely interconnected. No one is hermetically sealed off. All the more reason not to pee in the pool, so to speak. I’m not convinced that this translates into some system of natural justice, where evildoers get what’s coming to them; that’s too simplistic, I think. It’s also overly simplistic to think that making someone suffer for their deeds somehow puts things back in balance. We’re all worse off when one of us screws someone else over. The world is then a little more divided.

Coloma's avatar

No. I agree with @thorninmud

Especially #2. If one has the mindset that they have to be prepared to defend themselves at all times they will perceive threat everywhere and constantly be drawing conflict to themselves.

As far as #1 I do not believe there is some magical omnipotent being in the cosmos with a gavel in hand. We reap what we sow, no warden in the sky.

#3 Suffering as penance for ill will and acts of cruelty does nothing to rectify the wrongs, just as worrying has no effect on circumstance.
Suffering only creates more suffering. It is an archaic egoic ideology that only serves those that need revenge for sufferings perpetrated against them.

reijinni's avatar

#1. joke
#2. perhaps
#3. maybe

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Yes, this is not a fairy tale world like the other two questions. You don’t have to have a gun for this folks. Don’t turn this into a political discussion.

KNOWITALL's avatar

1 Yes. 2 Yes 3 no

ragingloli's avatar

1. No.
2. No. I know that it might happen, but I do not expect it, just as I do not expect to die in a car crash.
3. No. What is done, is done. All you can do is take steps to prevent “evil” from happening again.

bea2345's avatar

1. On the whole I am of a mind with @thorninmud . God just is. We don’t really know what He wants of us, if “want” is the right verb for a being I cannot conceive or imagine. But there are certain behaviours that we, meaning the people generally, have learned are simply antagonistic to the general peace.
2. On the whole, my life has been relatively peaceful. Apart from childhood fights, I have never had to defend myself physically and now I could not even if I would. I just don’t worry about it.
3. I read history for a year at undergraduate level. One of the things I learned is that actions have consequences. It happens at all levels of human societies. The governments of the United Kingdom and The United States interfered with British Guyana and the country, to this day, has not recovered. One of my mother’s cousins adopted an orphan girl. The child’s upbringing could have been happier – her step sister was angry about it – I don’t take sides, because I never knew the details and I like and respect both women. The adopted girl grew up to become a mother of five children, two of whom she adopted. One of the adoptees, a girl, had been destined for an orphanage. That girl is now in her first year doing medicine. I don’t believe in coincidences. There must be a God.

thorninmud's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I mentioned guns in a strictly personal context, not a political one. One ought to be able to mention guns without it being construed as a political statement. If I say I don’t like the way eating meat makes me feel toward animals, that isn’t the same as advocating for a ban on eating meat.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

1. No.

2. Have and will, on a personal level, never with an armed force. But I wouldn’t discount the possibility if my life and environment was disrupted enough by another force.

3. I think tat sometimes revenge is sweet, especially when it involves a bully and you can prove them what most of them are: physical cowards. nothing sweeter than that. I also enjoy witnessing people who’ve done others harm get their comeuppance. It doesn’t happen enough on this fine earth. It’s good for the general morale.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@thorninmud No offense taken and I was not directing the comment at you. I just saw where this was going. I usually have a bottle of pepper spray handy. Even if it was a handgun it actually does not fundamentally change your interaction with the world. If anything it simply raises your awareness.

I admit don’t understand the “If it happens so be it” mentality. I do see that a lot with folks who don’t like to confront the ugly side if our society. We should at least think about this since the odds are that some point in our lives we will have to do so.

downtide's avatar

1. No. You lost me at “God”. But even without that part, I don’t think it’s possible to exist in a community without exercising judgement about others. Not just about whether they are a threat to you or not but also, whether they are useful, what their degree of authority is, etc.

2. No. Such circumstances are fairly rare in this country.

3. No. The people who suffer are generally not the ones who are being evil. Evil is balanced by kindness, not suffering.

Bill1939's avatar

Thanks to all who responded to my question. As few responses to the first statement seemed to answer only the first part (God got the most negative attention), I should have split the first statement in two:

1a. You are satisfied with letting God alone judge,
1b. You do not concern yourself with the acts of others beyond determining the risk you imagine they pose to you and yours.

Eleven Fluthers provided agreement or disagreement to the statements, though some seem to split their answers. I scored agreement as one, disagreement as zero and the somewhat ambivalent one half. Two agreed and eight disagreed with statement one, five agreed and five disagreed with statement two and one-and-a-half agreed and eight disagreed with statement three.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Out of curiosity, why group these three (or four) statements together for assessment? To me, they seem rather unconnected.

Bill1939's avatar

@dappled_leaves, the statements are taken out of the context of a conversation between myself and a politically conservative Christian friend. We have been discussing (in person and via e-mail) his personification of evil (and the war that evil is waging against good), reparations for our ancestor’s actions, and the responsibility to address the suffering of others. The “statements” came to mind as I read a handout he provide at our last meeting (he is a retired professor). I expected him to give me three agrees and a commentary on each, which is why I wrote commentaries.

Paraphrasing and concatenating the statements, I offer one possible connection:

“I don’t worry about much, the Good Lord watches over me. Except I do worry about them different folk. You know, I’m sure that some day one of them is going to come over here and maybe take something, but I’m prepared. The bastard deserves the hurt I’m gonna put on him, and will be a better man for it.”

Maybe I’m stretching things a bit.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Bill1939 In that context, at least I can understand your third statement. I don’t think anyone knew where you were coming from on that one. Perhaps if you’d phrased it as “You think good can come of suffering” or “Suffering can make one a better person”, you would have received answers that could help explain your friend’s perspective.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

First off, number one basically has two different parts. The first part of number one on letting God alone judge, I can agree with in the aspect of who will be saved or who will not. To say humans should never judge others is foolish because everyone does, the lynch pin is, how are you judging and what for? The second halve of number one; do I care about what others do or not only if it affects me or mine, or poses a threat. I have to say I disagree; one cannot say they have love if they have no concern for anyone but themselves or who they will receive equal love back from. When you can love the unlovable, then you are on the way to true love.

Number two: yes, in this present world, but those will be very rare and not strongly intense.

Number three: the direction of the question is slightly off. I don’t think the suffering people receiver is because of the evil they do, in an earthly fashion, evil cannot even be quantified. The suffering of man is not predicated on his evilness. If a person receives suffering often they created it by the evilness they sowed, so they just are reaping back what they put out; however, it is not like math where it always add up.

jerv's avatar

Fighting someone who is doing evil doesn’t automatically make you good. If more conservatives and Christians realized that, I doubt they’d be evil themselves.

Bill1939's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central the third statement relates to the reaction some have had to the lengthy execution of convicted murderer “Joseph Rudolph Wood III in Arizona.” ... ” Wood, 55, who gasped and snorted for 1 hour and 40 minutes before finally dying after a lethal injection Wednesday, his attorneys said.” (see) Some have said that he deserved to suffer because of the heinousness of his crime, and that his suffering did not balance the suffering of his victims and family.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Bill1939 Huh. Looks like I misunderstood you on the second try, too!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Bill1939 Some have said that he deserved to suffer because of the heinousness of his crime, and that his suffering did not balance the suffering of his victims and family.
Unfortunately many try to truncate vengeance under the banner of Justice. If they believe a person should suffer in equal proportion to their alleged victims, then society should have the stomach to torture people to death, put them in the arena to not only die horribly but turn a buck, or impale them as Vlad the Impaler style. The only way this vengeance/justice can be equaled with some people like Tommy Lynn Sells is to not let them die but give each victim family access to torture him by the rack, iron maiden, flogging with cat-o-nine tails to the brink of death, etc. he says he believed that he murdered as many as fifty people. If that were true, he has only one body to give, how many pounds of flesh does he have to give for each victim? At 50–1 one victim might have gotten a forearm, the other most of the head but not all, another might end up with a hand, but none would have gotten a whole Tommy Sells for their entire murder.

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