Friday, 22 June 2012

Why modern people are, mostly, cowards

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Because they have nothing to be brave about.

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Courage is linked to conviction - there is a courage of one's own convictions, but it is a lesser thing. We have that kind of courage, but to be brave in pursuit of one's own pleasure is a species of selfishness - albeit a long-termist and strategic kind of selfishness, which is more impressive that mere short-termist impulsivity.

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Our supposed examples of modern courage are therefore people who face hardship and danger for their own material benefit - but indirectly; people who fight for their own lifestyle or type of person.

Yet here we come up against modern Leftism - political correctness. People who are brave in pursuit of their own preferences are only approved when these are already people of an approved type: mostly victim groups.

So that if a person in an approved victim group suffers some kind of hardship or danger, or even merely risks slights and inconvenience, they may be extravagantly praised for their courage.

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And famous media figures may be held-up as admirable for their 'bravery' in pursuing a life of relentless whim, gratification and greed - up-to and including suicide attempts: their supposed 'courage' apparently comes from them not actually having died of this.

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Courage is properly for something greater than oneself - and a society which recognises nothing greater than the self has no place for courage.

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10 comments:

  1. I wish I had something to feel that strongly about, but with no family, no friends, no career, I don't have much to give a damn about.

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  2. @GPO - Historically it was Religion; for a while in the 19th 20th century it was Nationalism.

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  3. Interesting post, and for many reasons other than the ones specified.
    I have courage in spades, and reading this made me wonder what, exactly, courage is.
    Courage is the resolute compulsion to defend what one believes deserves defending, no matter the cost, no matter the outcome.
    There is more than one kind of courage, too.
    Back in the days when I still had the capacity to feel terror, courage was the ability to overcome it and reach the other side. This kind of courage is a one-off affair, though. Reaching the other side removes fear, once and for all, and so courage becomes something one once had a need for, but now has something far more effective, instead.

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  4. Accurate assessment.

    I think this also has something to do with the increasing rate of despondency and depression in our times. I believe it's so in my case.

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  5. This is all too black and bleak. I'm not comfortable that people or courage are being fairly appreciated. As I perceive it, the essence of courage is "rising to a challenge". In the old days, that challenge often involved handling a physical attack so The Crow refers to it being about defending. That is simply one sort of challenge harking back to the distant past and a conception of life as physical and brutal.

    If you want to live life to the full—and out there in the world that I inhabit—many people do, then you look for your challenge. Then you rise to it. It takes courage. You are surrounded by nay-sayers. Even worse, you are surrounded by pessimists and people who have suffered and not recovered their natural optimism (goodness). They can't yet bear to think again that life is good! that people are good!

    Of course you are frightened by your challenge. No one knows the future. You have to run the gamut of social, psychological and physical distress. But despite fears you persist.

    That's courage.

    It's the source of human creativity: you can read more at http://thee-online.com/Frameworks/RsH-Creativity-in-Endeavours.aspx

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  6. I agree that courage does still exist - but in the modern world it is likely to be re-labelled as crazy or evil, since it is not deployed in support of those social goods which our society promotes - (i.e. political correctness) and these modern social goods are themselves too crazy and evil actually to inspire geniune courage!

    So in public discourse, real courage is ignored or despised; and the public examples of elite-socially-acceptable courage are bogus or faked.

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  7. There's public discourse (i.e. official, the media) and public discourse (i.e. your blog). Since the beginning of time official discourse has been under the thumb of those in power (dictator, pope, the majority &c). The power mentality instinctively rejects truth and light. It is anti-rational. So the present situation reflects nothing new and, while irritating, should not be too disturbing. (Relevant framework: http://thee-online.com/Frameworks/PersonalInteraction.aspx)

    For thousands of years it has taken courage to see what's real and to speak up in public——remember the fate of that corrupter of youth, Socrates. And yet people have always risen to the challenge. They still do. Some always will. According to the quality of their vision, capacity for comprehension and tolerance of pain, they choose their challenge and courageously persist. We should be grateful because much of what we now know and see is based on such past efforts.

    So the conclusion that I reach on this matter is that we must not expect public/official discourse to alter. We must not engage with something that is substantially false and evil (i.e. of some value but definitely the lesser good) but rather push on with genuine discourse, which is self-evidently the greater good.

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  8. @WK - You seen to be taking a very absolutist view - close to saying that things have always been as they are now, which I know to be false from personal experience as well as history.

    "people have always risen to the challenge. They still do. Some always will."

    Yes 'some', but how many are the 'some'? - the proportion has declined approx a hundredfold during my adult life alone.

    And the degree of suppression of the truth varies substantially too.

    And the degree of holiness (average and peak) varies substantially.

    In sum, I don't find your line of argument either convincing or reassuring!

    e.g. We know that the Church will survive to the end of time, and that then it will be small - but how small: three people, three million people?

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  9. bgc: You seen to be taking a very absolutist view - close to saying that things have always been as they are now, which I know to be false from personal experience as well as history.
    WK: I believe there are features that characterize social life. Getting a fix on these is no more absolutist than getting a fix on physical constants. In social life, some things are as they always have been. Some things change. Some change is evolution. Other change is just difference. I view working out which is which as a scientific task. Of course, I can be in error and, if so, I appreciate it when I am put right.

    bgc: "people have always risen to the challenge. They still do. Some always will." Yes 'some', but how many are the 'some'? - the proportion has declined approx a hundredfold during my adult life alone.
    WK: It's hard to know. Progress is a fluctuating path. There are set-backs and periods of darkness. Social mood is extremely bleak at present—best evidenced by the flow of zombie and horror films. As the current political crisis escalates, we are likely to soon see riots and uprisings.

    bgc And the degree of suppression of the truth varies substantially too.
    WK: Couldn't agree more.

    bgc: And the degree of holiness (average and peak) varies substantially.
    WK: Absolutely. Holiness attracts evil. Many examples: but look at the history of Jerusalem.

    bgc: In sum, I don't find your line of argument either convincing or reassuring!
    e.g. We know that the Church will survive to the end of time, and that then it will be small - but how small: three people, three million people?


    WK: I am not offering a line of argument, nor am I trying to reassure. I am rather proffering a mental position from which a future can always be built however dire and destructive the present may seem--or may actually be. I don't expect others to accept my position or share it: but they can choose to do so.

    Individuals develop their individuality in 6 distinct spheres and one of these are what I call their Reference Points. (i.e. knowledge and beliefs held without enough evidence to be called knowledge.) It's good that people are different, but it is always of great interest which Reference Points shared and which are worth sharing. I share with you holiness as a Reference Point. But I don't share an interest in any Church—although I am not against it or disturbed by it.

    I am inclined to think (without being able to defend it with evidence) that every person does need a Reference Point to permit the survival and spreading of goodness when surrounded by darkness, especially then. I also believe that great care is required when focusing on darkness as is required for knowing, or you can get infected. Then you stop being part of the solution.

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  10. Reading a lot of Eric Voegelin has left me with the notion that most causes are little more a war against reality. The twentieth century was just the death of one ideology after another.

    In a universe that probably sustains itself on paradox, what does courage mean for an Aristotelian? Is it simply finding the balance between cowardice and hubris? How is the man that knows the limits of his wisdom brave? I think it is in being unafraid to absorb the world, to dismiss all notion of reproach and truly give oneself over to curiosity. It is to delight in existence with no thought for soporifics.

    It is not so difficult to act decisively when your only real enemy is fear, and the all the things that arise in societies because of it. These are easy to recognize, and usually include fear of one's neighbors' liberty.

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