Saturday, August 04, 2007


Suppose for a minute we are brothers, you and I. Suppose our mother has been attacked by a terrible disease. In the course of fighting the illness, our mother has become addicted to the drug which was prescribed to cure her. Now imagine that one of us feels that the medicine is doing her more harm than the disease and is struggling to get her off of the drug, while the other is convinced that she will surely die if she stops taking her medication, and fights to keep her taking it. Can we say that one of us loves his mother more?

- RM


20-20 said...

Interesting question. I'm not sure that love and best interests (or logic) necessarily coincide. I imagine, for example, there is a person out there who is convinced that abortion is wrong, but fully loving his sister, would argue she should risk death rather than undergo an abortion, in spite of medical advice to the contrary. Love is not a rational state. It's an emotion and VERY OFTEN not a sensible one.

Ralph Murre said...

But suppose for a minute we are Americans, you and I. Suppose our country has suffered a terrible attack and war has been prescribed as the cure. POne of us feels that going to war is doing our country more damage than the attack, while the other feels certain that if we stop fighting, our nation will be in grave danger. Can we say that one of us loves his country more?

20-20 said...

Ah, so you are talking about patriotism, not simply love. Like love, patriotism is an abstraction. It’s neither right nor wrong. It’s simply an emotion (which can change like the wind). And as with love, everyone will experience it differently and everyone will believe their experience is right (at least at some point). And indeed, for them, it is indeed very likely that it is right. Let's remember, and agree, that "love is blind." Yet, ideally, patriotism should not be blind. If it is, we’re in trouble. And it often is.

If we respond to an aggression, defensively, we do so as patriots (think Japan and WWII). If we step it to help another against whom there is an unjust aggression (think Britain and WWII), and we patriots. I think yes. If we cause an unprovoked aggression, are we patriotic? I think not. And those who try to make us feel we are unpatriotic in this instance can go to hell. They are not patriots, and no better than the likes of Hitler, Stalin and those of their ilk. And those who work in their behalf do so because they have been misled and/or duped.

Aggressive wars cannot be anything but unpatriotic. They are caused by twisted ideology (madness), in the name of religion (i.e. we need to eradicate them because they don’t believe; more madness), or an excessive civilizing of others. Oh! And let’s not forget greed.

So the more important question is, why are we fighting? That is, what prompted and fuels our aggression?

Getting back to the initial question . . . there is no answer. Resolving an abstraction is impossible.

If I like blue shirts and you like red ones. Who's right?

Ralph Murre said...

Well, I DO like red shirts and I am right, of course, since this is my blog.

Thanks for the wonderful and well reasoned comment - now this is the sort of discussion I hoped my blog might engender from time to time.

- R.

20-20 said...

I re-read my posting and it appears I am missing a word or two. It must be the wine. Last night. :)