03 June 2013

Day 228: False Dilemma: Abuse or be Abused – Social Justice and Human Rights - Part 6

Before we proceed with discussing the Principle of Need as a basis for social justice, as ‘what is a morally right and just way to distribute the goods and services in a society among the members of it?’ – more requires to be said about the Principle of Merit and Desert as the principle upon which we have built our current economic system, and this, simply because the gravity of the situation must be stressed and understood.

For context, also read:
Day 118: Justice and Human Rights
Day 220: Justice and Human Rights - Part 2
Day 222: Justice and Human Rights - Part 3
Day 224: Justice and Human Rights - Part 4 - Social Justice: Merits and Deserts
Day 226: Deserving Life or Death - Social Justice and Human Rights - Part 5

The Divine Power to Decide on Life and Death

When we say that one must deserve the support one requires to fulfill one’s needs in order to live a decent life in this world, we are literally holding people’s lives in our hands and stating that it is possible for us as humans to decide about life or death. Many Gods in various religions throughout time have been attributed this responsibility of power over life and death, but within accepting an economic system where merit determines value, we have come to now attribute this power to ourselves. There is a reason why this power has been linked with Divinity – because it requires an extreme level of insight, integrity, understanding and consideration to make such assessments. These are qualities we as humans don’t possess. We do not even understand our own mind, our own thoughts, our own experiences. We are not yet an Authority in our own Inner Realities, because that would require us to be fully Aware and fully Response-Able in every moment, where we have proven to ourselves moment after moment that we can be Trusted with Life. If this were the case, we wouldn’t have imaginary realms in our mind where we play-out our nastiness against others to prevent us from actually acting them out in this physical reality. We haven’t even understood that the nastiness of our thoughts, our secrets, our desires, our grudges, our spite – are showing us who we are and thus, indicate, that there is a serious problem with ‘human nature’. So long as we have a mind – we know one thing: We cannot be trusted with life. And yet – we’ve assumed the power to judge others, the power to judge their lives, the power to decide whether they should live or die, whether they should suffer or live in abundance.

We are All Accomplices in All Crimes against Life

There is a sense in which we feel that what is described above has nothing to do with daily human life and that we do not actually hold people’s lives in our hands, where we place their hearts on the one side of the scale and a ‘feather of justice’ on the other. We do not feel that this has anything to do with who we are and the life we live, because – obviously, it is not something that we actively and consciously do. And - we have an inherent belief and conviction that if we do not actively do something, then we didn’t do it – or that, if we didn’t have the intention of supporting such actions, then we didn’t. Yet, when we accept and allow a crime against life to take place – then we are part of the crime, we are an accomplice to the crime.

This notion of accomplice is contrary to what is commonly accepted under the term:

An accomplice may assist or encourage the principal offender with the intent to have the crime committed, the same as the chief actor. An accomplice may or may not be present when the crime is actually committed. However, without sharing the criminal intent, one who is merely present when a crime occurs and stands by silently is not an accomplice, no matter how reprehensible his or her inaction.[1]

Present or not – intention or no intention – when we within ourselves accept and allow the idea that it is ‘just’ and ‘righteous’ to place a condition on an individual’s access to the very things a person requires to survive – in the form of the principle of merit - then we are DIRECTLY responsible for ALL DEATHS resulting from lack. Why? Because, within ourselves, we gave permission for them to die - we gave the go-ahead for mass murder as soon as we thought ‘Yeah, it makes sense to have to earn one’s living’. It seems like such an innocent little thought, right? This is what I mean with: we do not even understand our own minds and we do not understand the consequences of our own thoughts.

Writing and Reading – our Responsibility with Words

When academics write out their convictions and ideologies in terms of what they envision to be the ‘just society’, they do not consider the power and implication of their words. Supporters of the principle of Merit and Desert did not in fact realize or even investigate what they were truly saying. And neither did those who studied their words – which makes it ironic to call it ‘studying’ – because all that happened within the ‘study’ is that either the information was merely copy/pasted into one’s own mind, or it was assessed whether one ‘likes’ the words in terms of the particular energetic experience that came up when reading the words, of which the student wasn’t even aware. That is why we say ‘it sounds good’ – not because the physical sound of the worlds have any particular harmonic qualities, but because when we read them, we ‘feel good’ – the words resonate with our own self-interest and our own hidden agendas – to which, most of us are oblivious.

And as soon as we feel good, we stop asking questions and do not see the implications behind the words, behind the thoughts – which is why we feel puzzled when we are shown what we are truly responsible for and why we do not remember having given these permissions – because we weren’t aware that we were giving them.

That is the reason behind this blog – to reveal the ‘whole story’ and how this story plays out in actual reality, in actual lives – so that we can look beyond our feelings and consider the reality of the situation in having all the information available before making any further decisions on which principles we should build our society and build our economic system on, for them to be just. And so that we can develop the skill of questioning our thoughts and their implications instead of blindly accepting them without consideration for the ramifications.

The Psychological Justification for the Principle of Merit or Desert

We can now further consider why the principle of merit or deserts is a principle that often ‘resonates’ with us as ‘sounding good’ or ‘sounding right’. The underlying psychological element that justifies the principle of merit and deserts is fear of being abused through being taken advantage of.

These fears arise specifically in group-situations where the well-being of the group is dependent upon the efforts and contributions of each individual – and where individuals are not the same in terms of intellectual capacity, creativity, discipline, physical strength, agility and perseverance. Within such a scenario, of course, not every individual contributes in the same way or to the same extent, because abilities differ. The fear of being taken advantage of steps in when one perceives that the level of well-being the group generates does not reflect the efforts and contributions one personally put in – where one perceives that one is not equally receiving according to what one gave. Herein, an experience of ‘unfairness’ will rear its head, because one perceives it to be unfair that those who one perceives ‘contributed less’ are receiving the same standard of well-being as oneself. The tendency is to then blame those that one perceives as ‘having done less’ for one’s own experiences of dissatisfaction. Almost immediately, a feeling of ‘being abused’ follows, because we feel conned by those we perceive has having done less, where we think that they deliberately took advantage of one’s efforts and contributions.

From here – those that perceive they have been abused will call for greater individualization – where the focus now shifts from the well-being of the collective as a result of a group-effort – to the well-being of the individual a as a result of individual-effort. So – it is fascinating that one immediately takes in an anti-group position in reaction to a perceived ‘injustice’ – where blame is placed on others and self-interest overrides any other consideration. (For those who still resonate with this justification in thinking ‘that sounds like the right thing to do’ – remember the above discussion in what the consequences are of reacting in such a way – where from a ‘seemingly reasonable mind-set’ we’ve created an economic system that outcasts millions because their value is not being registered as being ‘sufficient’ – and so they have been condemned to a life of suffering and premature death. Instead of trying to appease one’s conscience, we have the ability of actually fundamentally changing our attitudes in a way that would produce real solutions.)

Now, going back to the group-setting – what would be the alternative to individualization?

There are two possible scenarios in terms of why some individuals contribute less.
Firstly – there are those who, due to differing mental and physical capacities, will be unable to be as productive or as contributing as others. Herein, any reaction of feeling abused by them would be inappropriate, because no harm was deliberately being done. The reality of the matter simply is that each one is doing the best they can, and as such – the level of wellbeing in the group is as high as it can be. Does this mean that individualization is necessary so that those who contributed more receive a ‘higher share’ of the well-being? Obviously not – it is a matter of understanding that those with more ability have a responsibility towards those with less – simply because, if they were the ones in the group with less ability, they would want others to take responsibility for them too. Such attitude is one of caring, of consideration, of respect – all of which we is highly valued in any society. The best one can do is to ensure that each one is indeed contributing in a way that they are most effective, which would require them to be passionate about what they do, because passion implies self-motivation, which implies pursuing self-perfection within one’s particular expression. And so – with each one optimally contributing in their particular capacity and expertise, the group is like an organism that will function most effectively.

So – the critical factor in this scenario is that one places aside one’s fears of abuse, which – if one looks at it is irrational from the perspective that no-one is taking advantage of anyone, but that each one acts in accordance with their responsibility towards themselves and so each other – and that one practices the values that are preached, in order to build a group and an environment that is pleasant, that is supportive, that is cohesive – one that, in the end, everyone would benefit from. Why benefit? Because such an environment does not only ensure that the particular task at hand is being completed, but it also nurtures the social and psychological well-being of each one.

In the second scenario, some are contributing less because they are endeavoring to maximize benefits while minimizing costs – and thus, are purposely ‘parasiting’ off the efforts of those who put in more work. Now, if those who do contribute to the best of their ability would not react in outrage for perceived abuse – what would happen?
It would simply be assessed that there is a problem in the group where there are some that are not equally participating and who are placing their self-interest above the interest of the group and where – as a result – the group is less effective and each one enjoys a standard of living below the potential that would be achieved if each one would have actively participated. The common sense thing to do in this situation is to, as a group, intervene and confront the individuals in question with the consequences of their behavior and show how a change on their part is required for the group to function as a whole. If understanding is not sufficient for change to take place – then other factors must be looked at that may be contributing to a psychological state of apathy, where, for instance, the individual is not performing the task that they would particularly enjoy most, or the individual struggles with the task at hand, where, incessant experiences of inadequacy led one to ‘give up’ - and, in order to deal with experiences of failure in this regard, the person uses the self-manipulation of ‘I don’t care anyways’. It is not actually so that one doesn’t care, but a lie one tells oneself so one isn’t plagued by the same experience of guilt, failure, anxiety and inadequacy over and over again. So – here the apathy is merely a self-protective wall the individual put in place due to not seeing how to move oneself out of this situation. So – such underlying factors must be identified to bring clarity on how the individuals may be assisted and empowered to break through their apathy and allow the group to function most effectively.

In the second scenario the critical factor is to not take the situation personally – where, yes – those individuals were acting in a harmful way towards the group – but it has nothing to do with anyone on an individual level , where one is now ‘under attack’ and one requires to ‘protect oneself’ from the evil that is lurking. If one looks at it – those individuals who deliberately contributed less, within themselves, took on an ‘anti-group’ position. So – to now demand individualization, which is also an anti-group position, is like fighting fire with fire – an effort we can all see will not provide real solutions – because it is the very anti-group position attitude that is the cause of abuse and harm on the part of others within the group. Therefore – to attempt to protect those who perceive themselves to be abused through installing a system of reward based on individual merit – one is in fact attempting to manipulate the ‘flow’ of the abuse – where abuse is in fact accepted, but one directs it in such a way that it befalls on others.
And that is exactly what we see within the current capitalistic system, that it is in fact a system of abuse, where the abusers, which are the ones who live a comfortable life, will justify the abuse based on the fear of being taken advantage of by others. This is how those who fear being abused in fact become the abuser.

False Dilemma – Abuse or Be Abused

Ultimately, then, the psychological justification for a distributive system based on the principle of individual merit – lies within the false dilemma of ‘abuse or be abused’. We have shown above that this is indeed a FALSE dilemma because there are alternatives if only one practices the ability of placing aside one’s fear to be able to consider a common sense solution. The fact that these skills are not being practiced in a school or home environment as part of every child’s education may very well be the fact that the world is in such disarray.

One can argue that the principle of merit and desert is the only possible expression of ‘social justice’ exactly because of how humans are psychologically wired. Yet – if one looks at the very endeavor of implementing or bringing about social justice – it is to distribute goods and services in a way that is morally correct – in order to create a morally correct society. To believe that one can reconcile such a morally upstanding society with human beings that are unable to act in a morally upstanding way – is delusional. To attempt to change society without changing the humans that ARE the society, will never really create any change at all. So – change must happen both within and without, and if social justice is to become a reality, education must play its role within developing the required skills so that individuals are able to uphold a socially just society. There is simply no two ways about it.

[1] http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/accomplice


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