Am I evil? Are you good?

Someone somewhere said to his flock in perfectly self-serious tones that bad folks aren’t taking a break from making the world a worse place, therefore neither should they, implication naturally being that they and only they are good and on the right side of history. But didn’t someone else across the undulating stream of time once say let he who is without sin cast the first stone? I wonder to myself, then, what kind of man, if not inexperienced or an utter fool, deals in simple moral binaries? Who doesn’t have enough dirt in their closet to not do a double take before making grandiose assertions of their moral probity? And how dull an existence must it be to reduce everything to a convenient division of black and white?

It is a cunning social maneuver alright. You set yourself up as a paragon of virtue from the very beginning by appealing to mass sentimentality, you make your stance unassailable by dint of sheer noise, so that you now have the moral higher ground to vilify your opponents and their views as something less than human. Once you have gained this stronghold, you feel at rights visiting the same abuses on your opponents that you once accused them of. The tables keep turning, the roles keep getting reassigned, but the only constant that remains is the quest for power. Power like wealth – and wealth is power, too – is without color and knows no ideology; all it cares for is preservation and perpetuation.

If you fall outside the pale of these machinations and are any kind of individual, it is but natural to be intimidated by the tide of public opinion bearing down on you, to even catch yourself doubting the very sanctity of your convictions. The trick is to see through what’s at play, to not let yourself be cowed or swayed by childish appeals to whatever passes for the moral standard of the day, especially when those appeals become steadily more vitriolic in tone in the face of dissent; to realize, in fact, that this situation is not the same as a natural and personal inspection and reevaluation of values, but rather a petty power-play that considers with great cynicism, and paternalism, even the subjects it claims to be fighting for as little more than pawns without real agency, pawns that have to be animated and imbued with a purpose from outside. There is nothing noble in any of this and the person not hankering after power should see the ruse for what it is and continue to follow his own mind’s calling.

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