Are ethics merely a survival mechanism? Or is there an underlying, morality- based distinction between right and wrong? Is the concept of "Universal Values" a mere myth? Is there a celestial Supreme Court? For that matter, does a heavenly Clarence Thomas sit on the right hand, the extreme right hand of God?
It certainly helps the survival of the species if we organize our behavior and sublimate our reptilian tendencies. But, is survival the only motivation to be "good"?
Are primates "good" within their social structure. They seem to bond with each other; protect their young; engage in grooming and congregate in groups. They acknowledge leaders and construct social hierarchies.
IT'S JUST A SIMIAN THING
The original "Planet of the Apes" movie posed an interesting quandary within its naive Hollywood portrayal. What is the real basis of ethics as we perceive them?
We are so horrified by the Sandy Hook massacre that the news is spattered with reports of Sandy Hook denial and conspiracy theorists who absolutely believe that it never happened. Some even suggest that it did happen, but was orchestrated by the Muslim Socialist in the White House.
Ironically the horrific climate extremes that have struck Australia, and more recently New York and New Jersey are regarded as normal, cyclic events by the same deniers. These beliefs are held despite the fact that those events are off-the -scale according to any known historical record.
In business, we naively believe that value, commerce, quality and exchange are based on some quantifiable value.
It turns out that the eyeglass frame retail industry is, and has been for some time, firmly based on hype, deception and hoax. That $400 name-brand frame cost about $5 to make. At 8000% profit, perhaps there is an ethical culture, education and dare I say it, "ethics" in favor of the new ephemeral construct. That is the "financial services" industry. We now talk about "financial instruments". Banks sell "products" we "put", "call", "short" , "long" and spectacularly we "hedge." Beyond hedge trimming we are witness to the mind-boggling ethically challenged concept of “derivatives”
Insurance has to be up there amongst the biggest scams of all. The very concept of raising premium rates based on an individual policy claim, defies the entire concept. One takes out insurance to share the burden of risk. Raising an individual's rates based on a claim is the very essence of deceit and deception.
Social Security insurance and Medicare insurance are labeled as "entitlements", despite the fact that we paid for them.
IF I HAD A HAMMER
Perhaps we have something to learn from the primates. Perhaps, in fact, we ARE simply primates. We forage around for food and shelter; appoint bullies to lead us; engage in devastating, territorial, decimating wars; subjugate our weaker brethren and we pray to mythical creations to bring us good fortune.
As humans, perhaps our only small step beyond the reptile is our creation of idols and symbols that personify an awareness of our vulnerability and in particular, of our mortality.
It is thought that animals do not know that they will ultimately cease to be.
We are likely the only species that is aware of our our mortality. With that insane conceptional awareness, we create mythologies that give us a story to hang on to, a foundation upon which to base our existence and a cross upon which to nail ourselves when things get out of hand.
I have read suggestions that a true awareness of mortality would make the maintenance of a rational life experience impossible for a thinking human. Therefore, we create irrational myths in order to survive.
These myths contain survival mechanisms that we naively believe to be ethics and morality. But are they really? Was Billy Graham a good man? Did the latest Fatwah from the Ayatollah come to him via a conduit directly from the Prophet who sits on high? The Pope resigns. And then there were two.
The Sunday morning, bible-thumpers suggest that there is a truth they have to share. They convey their truth while they present themselves to us with makeup, perfectly coifed hair, tailored suits and diamond studs. They heal the infirm with their hands. They sell their truth with calls to the faithful to touch the television. They appeal to their congregants to send in their prayer requests along with dollars. Dollars end up in hedge funds and a host of other wondrous financial “instruments.”
I thought the violin was an instrument. Does a financial derivative make a melody?
Apes don't seem to have a need for a higher power. They do seem to appreciate a banana, a handful of peanuts and a good scratch.
THE GIFT OF LIFE
Perhaps it would be worthy of study to better understand the factors that hold fundamentalist beliefs in place. Believers in absolutism and fundamentalism have held and continue to wield power far out of proportion to their numbers. Some even have tea parties.
The earth was flat for the better part of human history and it was the center of the universe. Saudi women get closer to God when they do not operate a motor vehicle. Jews made a deal or "covenant" as they call it, where the sacrifice of a slice of penis brought them a closer relationship with the divine in a “seal the deal” contract. Women were thankfully freed from this burden in that culture. Contemporary Egypt practices a different ritual involving around 90% of all its women. Good God!
Some are now cleansing themselves further in Beit Shemesh Israel, by making certain cell phones kosher only for women. These ethically blessed devices then become a direct line to the holy. I wonder if a text to heaven is like a letter to Santa c/o The North Pole? No sexting for Sarah.
Barry Obama was a law professor and then a community organizer. He seems like a decent chap. Three days into office at the beginning of his first term as Commander-in-Chief, he ordered drone strikes in Pakistan that killed innocent human beings.
I have never begun to understand how, after a period of three days, a seemingly compassionate, educated, intellectual fellow could undergo the emotional transition that permitted these directed assassinations and the potential collateral damage to take place with his order and direction. Prior to the day he took office, I don't believe that Barry killed anyone. Then in an instant, he within his own psyche found a way to undergo a mystical transition.
These actions continue to this day. How does he sleep? In what ethical construct does a teacher and welfare worker take on such an awesome responsibility?
My mother was a community organizer and city councilor. I don’t believe that she ordered hits on any of her constituency.
POLLY PUT THE KETTLE ON AND WE ALL HAD TEA
Within my ethical dilemma, I have done my best to fathom the right wing's fascination with women's reproductive functions, automatic rifles and the restriction of health care to only those who can pay for it.
I have tried my best to understand the connective tissue that places these issues at the forefront of a political agenda that currently controls the purse strings of the US congress and indirectly, the economy of the entire world.
I have often thought that a fun movie plot would be to construct a believable scenario that tells a story based on the premiss that O.J. Simpson didn't do it. Similarly, I wonder what kind of world would be created if the entire "tea baggers" agenda were to be embraced, become the law of the land, and the manner in which American society functioned.
We could mandate the arming of all primary school teachers, demand that all pregnancies come to term and let nature take its course when illness strikes.
The right to bear arms could include missiles and atomic weapons. Access to emergency medical facilities could be restricted to only those with good credit. We could drive a tank to work, deploy mines around our homes and freely hunt for Bamby in our suburbs. Bridges and highways would be privately tolled and armies would be privatized. Rape could be re-defined as to its quality. Women's bodies would be mandated to shut down based on congressional mandate.
Would that be a more ethical brew?
Milk and sugar with that?
PRESIDENT SARAH RON PAUL PALIN WOULD:
Nuke Iran and North Korea
Build a wall between America and Mexico.
Drill baby drill.
Make moose-hunting an Olympic event.
Legislate the word "gotcha" into the Webster's dictionary.
Eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unionism, government education and any and all entitlements.
Intern Muslims, see Russia across the bay and denote the reading of newspapers a liberal, propaganda device.
Introduce mandatory AK47 weapons in every home.
Eliminate the minimum wage thereby re-introducing feudalism.
Because big government is our enemy and we must be prepared to defend our rights.
BUT, MAYBE THEY HAVE A POINT:
Big government currently:
Assassinates without accountability.
Tortures without accountability.
Wiretaps and eavesdrops without accountability.
Declines to prosecute the institutions who deal in fraudulent financial instruments.
Legislates and enforces our enslavement to profit making corporate insurance institutions.
It's a long way from "community organizer" in Chicago to DC. And what the hell is Rahm Emmanuel doing in Chicago that is making any sense? There is civil strife going on with more killing than Syria and nobody gives a shit. There's some effective big government.
Is the South side of Chicago the land of the free, home of the brave?
THE KILLING FIELDS MEET W.C. FIELDS MEET ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELDS
Shakespeare made artistry out of murder and mayhem. Cain and Able went at it. Perhaps the life experience is simply a recurring Hollywood Western movie with Audie Murphy replacing Brutus, or Macbeth as O.J. Simpson or Hannibal Lechter.
Ethics seem to be a concept that is a flexible, expedient tool of manipulation for those who benefit from exploiting cartoonish mythologies for their own grasping of power and profit. Children are sent to the front lines in the name of the Prophet; women are raped in the pursuit of the greater good. The minimum wage for food service workers in America is held at below $3 per hour as an expression of unbridled, freewheeling capitalism and charter schools have re-introduced segregation. They have become a substitute for bussing.
There's no business like the god business. Scientology is said to have a billion dollars in reserve to support their thetan mythology through the courts while Chabad buildings, churches and Cathedrals stand deserted, idle, unoccupied and useless serving no purpose other than the realization of asset value and tax deductions. Put a box on your head, make the sign of the cross, face the East and genuflect. Ritual has overtaken meaning. The symbol has become bigger than the original intent.
Tony Scalia is the living proof of ethical expediency. The constitution of the USA has become a demonic distortion in his mind and in his hands. Ethics be damned.
Editing : Batsheva