goat-udder-shaped morals

26 Nov

I only picked up TIME for a few minutes, but found these 2 good articles:

A response to one of TIME’s “Best Inventions of the Year“:

“But how can it be that in the past eight decades we’ve gone from measuring by furlongs and pinches to microns and nanoseconds and gigabytes, but we’re still sizing bras according to the first few letters of the alphabet? And I’m not discounting the seminal work of the Swiss anthropologist Rudolf Martin, who classified breasts into four types: flat, hemispheric, conical and goat-udder-shaped. It’s just that, inexplicably, his nomenclature system failed to catch on.”

What Makes Us Moral

“Yugoslavia is the great modern example of manipulating tribal sentiments to create mass murder,” says Jonathan Haidt, associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. “You saw it in Rwanda and Nazi Germany too. In most cases of genocide, you have a moral entrepreneur who exploits tribalism for evil purposes.”

That, of course, does not take the stain of responsibility off the people who follow those leaders–a case that war-crimes prosecutors famously argued at the Nuremberg trials and a point courageous people have made throughout history as they sheltered Jews during World War II or refuse to murder their Sunni neighbor even if a militia leader tells them to.

For grossly imperfect creatures like us, morality may be the steepest of all developmental mountains. Our opposable thumbs and big brains gave us the tools to dominate the planet, but wisdom comes more slowly than physical hardware. We surely have a lot of killing and savagery ahead of us before we fully civilize ourselves. The hope–a realistic one, perhaps–is that the struggles still to come are fewer than those left behind.”

I thought this last article was really interesting because I’ve found myself getting hung up on my morals a lot lately. In ways where it’s actually been counter-productive to progress within a group setting. I have never been a “means justify the ends” kind of girl, so it is nearly impossible for me to agree to take 2 steps forward, if I know it means taking 1 back in regards to moral code. I have never even thought of myself as having a really strict moral code, just an unmoving one.

It seems that sometimes the only way to accomplish things is to make concessions. Within a group setting that makes sense– compromising. But concessions made specifically regarding morals are a dangerous line to walk. What is “okay” to sacrifice or allow, who is drawing this arbitrary line.

Now, maybe I’m being dramatic: relating the sacrifice of morals within a group setting to this article that’s discussing the Holocaust. But I think, that on the very lowest of levels, not “sticking to your guns” in small groups is what creates the opportunity for situations to spiral out of control to a much grander scale. And soon “manipulating tribal sentiments” can occur on today’s stage: society, or any other group within it. If no one speaks up, everyone who also was too scared to say anything begins to think that they were solitary in these thoughts, so they must have been wrong. This creates an excellent opportunity for the leader of this body of people to exert whatever power and direction they wish, since they know their constituents are either mindless or won’t talk back.

All of these things are probably already crystal clear to all of you. I guess what I’m saying is: start talking back and start sticking to your guns– and if you are already doing both of the aforementioned, then, just keep maintaining rep.


One Response to “goat-udder-shaped morals”

  1. kjentzen November 28, 2007 at 3:31 am #

    that swiss dude forgot BIG TITTIES!

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