When Civility Kills: George Floyd & the Cost of Placating Society's Wicked
We always make the mistake of falling into philosophical entrapments, debates that at best often end with “agreeing to disagree” or fierce but fleeting discussions. We go on TV or social media denouncing things as if they have to be explained. But people don’t do or support bad things and bad people because they don’t know better. They know, they just don’t care.
The concepts of freedom, of equality, of our individual and shared responsibilities to take care of each other and of our world are not new. They are not novel radical theories. There is no “other side” to issues of equality, freedom, human rights, and preservation/conservation of the environment, the overall good, etc. For example, there is no real logical debate on the validity of wearing a mask or to stay at home in order to protect the health of others, i.e., that my view of how I look or my temporary discomfort trumps anyone’s right not to get sick and die. No one seriously thinks that there is a fate worse than death, the only human condition we cannot overcome, whether with or without the help of others and our governments. Nor is there question on whether what we hear with our own ears and what we see with our own eyes are true or not. Debates require at least two defensible opposing arguments. It is not a debate when the position of one side is entirely and logically indefensible.
Everyone knows the truth, they see the truth. Some just don’t care. It is neither liberal nor conservative, just like the rising of the sun and its setting is neither mine nor yours. We do not lack understanding of universal truths, which have even been referred to as being “self evident.” What we lack is the will to call evil people evil, greedy people evil, and lying people liars—in these perilous times, malignantly evil.
They surround us. We are uncomfortable to just call them all out because we are under the wrong impression that all opinions are valid, that all opinions must be treated with respect. Opinion is to truth what clothing is to the human body. Opinions are what we wrap ourselves with, convenient and comfortable. Truth on the other hand requires respect, and it must always be protected and defended.
Yet respect of opinions—not truth—we are told, necessitates civility. What good is civility when a man has his knees crushing another man’s throat? What good is civility when a family drinks toxic water from their faucet? What good is civility when low wage workers are forced to risk their lives at work while their bosses summer in their country homes with little risk to their lives and their families.
Our own family, friends, clients, elders, coworkers, religious leaders, government officials, etc. do not have to be convinced. They already are convinced what the right thing to do is. For some it just doesn’t matter. More importantly, you and I do not matter. No one matters to them but themselves and/or their own. They are indifferent. They are apathetic.
While we protect their egos, we destroy life, we destroy the earth. So I won’t waste time explaining to those who pretend to not know better how the world should be and how we should treat each other. I don’t plead for the unmoved to be moved for they will never tire fighting for their privilege, insanity and inhumanity.
I write this not to tell people what they already know. I write this to tell people who insist there is a debate, “I see you. I am ashamed of you. And as with all evil, you can go to hell.”