Values

Yep, I’m about to assert that we operate on different planes of thought

| Forum Editor

In my opinion, a major fault in the world is the unwillingness or inability to recognize the underlying values of one’s actions or beliefs. I will demonstrate this fault with examples from Washington University in St. Louis.

Case number one: You want to recycle that water bottle you are drinking. Why? Because it is good to do so.

That is likely as far as you get. But if you continue questioning until you get to the core of that superficial belief, you get the following:

Why is it good to recycle? Because it reduces carbon emissions. Why is that good? Because it helps the Earth by stopping global warming. Why is that good? Because otherwise lots of plants and animals on earth will die, and we will be in a difficult situation as a species of human beings. Why is that bad? Because…because…

Do you know? Do you know why you think it is worth keeping human beings around and as comfortable as they now are? Have you actually asked yourself why individual human suffering is worth preventing?

I propose the following: You do not understand why you want to keep humans around. You just do because you are one and you think that it would be sad if humans were gone. You do not realize that the same unthinking instinct is what led us to such short-sighted technological development and to the situation in which we are right now. You do not realize that you are using the same short-range, “Oh, humans are just good to have around no matter what” logic that you passively decry when you try to recycle a plastic bottle you should not have bought in the first place. It either had water in it and you are insane, or you were drinking some kind of high-fructose corn syrup that is going to destroy your body before the earth as a whole has anything to do with it.

Case number two: You read an article of mine, and you think it is bad and that I am an idiot and ignorant and should not work on the newspaper. Why so harsh? You think that there is no logical argument to my column. Why is that bad? Because logic is the only way to make a good argument. Why is that the case? Because…well…

Frankly, you don’t understand where you are coming from any better than I do. Logic is just another thing someone gave to you, and because you possess one more appropriated level of “civilization” that you know everyone is going to agree with, you feel justified in voicing opposition to my sincere, personal point of view. You haven’t even asked yourself why you think my column should be based on evidence and logical argumentation. You are on the offensive because you have no self-doubt.

I propose the following. You sit down. You think about the attitude you have. It’s a negative one, looking for faults in people’s work rather than for value. You will go through life trying to destroy everything you see rather than get something out of it. You will impress people with your intelligence, but you will be absolute hell to be around, and you will die realizing you never even tried to find anything good in the world. You wish, now, that you had the cojones to sit down and write an original thought yourself. You wish you had the sincerity and frankness to put yourself out there, to tell people what you think. You don’t.

Listen. This is all very upsetting, and the truth is that you’re probably a really nice character and that we should really hang out. But I can’t stand people asserting things without considering the basic causes and the basic implications of those assertions. There’s more than one plane of thought, here, people. Have you ever considered that I may not be on yours?