Today is the "Day of Peace," so we're taking a short break from our series on the Sermon on the Mount. This episode focuses on that one characteristic which always seems to rear its head when violence prevails - the objectification of other. In keeping with the theme of our SOTM series, this episode will contain a poem. We'll specifically discuss slavery and abortion, taking a look at an objectification past which is now so obvious, and compare it to an objectification present which many can't see. Hopefully our assessing of objectification will help us to evaluate our views of others, as well as our cultural blind-spots, leading to years of peace.
What is this quelled inside me? I cannot really say.
It’s certainly not dread, Scott. That came on another day.
It feels more like fuzzy warmth. A rashly rationed rationality
Standing partially on reason’s leg, to support desire’s partiality
But of desire, why condemn it so? This, nature’s guide to truth.
For survival, reason validates these means and ends that we intuit
Yet at moments my intuitions falter, as I see my fallible humanity
Until I’m brought back to reason’s side, guided by infallible Humity
I’m reminded that man has no plan except that which does play out.
Each’s goal, oneself. Nothing else. Even altruism, a selfish route
So what is this quelled inside me? I still can’t really say.
But damn it, I don’t care to know. I’ll say what I want anyway.
And if you care not to agree, I’ll take care not to care.
For the winner won’t win on empathy’s plea, but by exerting more force than other can bear.
So what do I want for society? Or should I say, what do I want for me?
I want no restraints that impede my class. I want the power to be beyond free
I want to restrict those who are far removed from me. I want to remove their ability to impede.
And as the Humian that I truly am, I’ll strip away their humanity
If those in my way are no longer like me, then there’s no person to consider –
Like all obstacles that come before me, I discard them as rubbish, refuse, litter.
But to throw things away seems so absurd. Nothing but cavalier waste.
For it’s not only meat that gives utility, but also bone, sinew, hair, carapace.
So what of this class that’s so unlike me? Those without presence, no cries?
While too burdensome it is to provide their support, surely them we can still utilize
We need not mandate that others preserve these lives, if the voiceless become hindrance,
In order to punish some for taking same life, though really punishing for inconvenience
We also need not apply personhood to this group, these dejected who are so like us
To subjectively choose some objective ground to define humanity so it includes us
So if I have right to take this life, then this life is mine to own.
But since this my life can’t speak on its own, why not give its owners their vote?
I propose that we count all voiceless at hand as three fifths woman and man,
To keep them inhuman, yet still useful to me, as I further my narcicized plan.
So what is this quelled inside me? I finally think that I can say.
It’s certainly not dread, Scott. But it’s just as inhumane.
The title is a reference to the Missouri Compromise. Basically, it was a compromise whereby the United States allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, despite relatively strong objections, and a notion in some that it just wasn’t right. Throughout this poem I will be making many slavery references, in hopes that I can parallel it to the abortion issue. Speaking to the abortion issue, the first line of the poem alludes to the major question that must be asked in the abortion debate: “what is inside the mother?”
This is the second reference to slavery, in the case of Dred Scott. Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom on the grounds that he should be considered a citizen, or at least a free man. This was not only due to his “inalienable” rights as a human being, but the government’s own laws. At one time, Scott’s owner traveled with Scott through free territory, where by law, Scott was a human being with rights. So even on the government’s own grounds, they were hypocrites. In regard to abortion, we end up asking a similar question of humanity. What is inside the mother? Here, she admits that she does not know.
I liked the play on words at the end here, but I also think it describes well the stupidity and gutlessness of the lack of a stand for morality against slavery. People thought through things very rashly. Instead of thinking about the big picture for the nation, they did what was going to get them through the moment. And while compromises were made, people rationalized their reasoning in an attempt to justify themselves.
Playing off number four, it seems as though people leaned on the voice of reason as their pillar of foundation, as their desires were shortsighted. They want their generation to be at peace in the land, even if it means war within morally. Slavery was not affecting the majority group – the group in power. There wasn’t much of an incentive to take slavery away, as it was very lucrative and not hurting those who mattered (WASPs who owned land). Desire won out over moral reason and long-term thinking. Desire, however, is often partial, leaving out those whose desires don't align, or those who impede the success of the majority's desires. Moral reasoning is intended to uphold inalienable rights, but when used only in part, it is often crafted to prop up desires.
While most would agree that slavery was a bad thing, as it was shortsighted, how can we say it was wrong? Desire is what nature has given us, and what has evolved to guide us towards survival. If it weren’t for the desire to eat, I’d starve. If it weren’t for the desire to have sex, our species would die out. Desires are the life force of humanity’s survival. It is impossible for desires to be remain faulty, as if they were faulty, they wouldn’t survive and get passed on to future generations. The only way a desire can be faulty is if it is no longer useful. However, its existence for any significant period of time implies that it at one point was indeed useful, and therefore not wrong by naturalistic standards based around survival. So how can we condemn slavery other than from our limited frame of reference? Slavery bolstered an economy, created rich traditions, etc. Likewise, how could we condemn abortion if we are upholding someone's choice, preventing a poor quality of life, or lowering the crime rate? [ http://freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-should-you-believe/
] Who can judge?
When one thinks about desires, they can seem so wrong. How can one really endorse the atrocities that occur as a result of slavery? It causes one to question morality, knowing how imperfect human minds and actions are. But then we turn to David Hume and the reason he brings to the table. He shows that a naturalistic worldview truly does uphold desires, whatever they may be.
These two lines are loaded. First, as alluded to in footnote 5, whatever happens, happens. If it survives any length of time, and especially if it abounds, it was “good,” or at least truly good for survival at some point in time. Nature cannot produce anything unnatural from a naturalistic standpoint. So whatever happens is natural, and what is natural cannot be described as “good” or “bad.” Those are prescriptive terms, and we can only be descriptive about nature. Any prescription is our own imposition.
I go on to mention, however, that man does play a plan in a Humian world. Man is a being that perpetuates himself out of selfish motives. That is what is natural and what drives man. We do what we do only if it benefits us. This is true even in altruism. I help my fellow man because I want them to help me if I ever need help. I vote for laws against robbery and murder not because I wouldn’t do it if it benefitted me and I could get away with it, but because I don’t want someone to be able to do it to me. EVERYTHING we do is done only if we perceive it as being beneficial to us. Those that don’t seek their own good most likely don’t reproduce, and their DNA dies out. There is a great clip of Christopher Hitchens saying this in a debate with his brother. It is extremely calloused, but a very honest admission of the outworking of his worldview [1:13:25 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngjQs_QjSwc&feature=youtu.be
In the end, it is survival of the fittest. Whatever ideas correspond the most with reality’s notion of survival, will survive and flourish. If bad ideas survive, the species dies out. So in this naturalistic world, it’s not really a grounded morality that exists and says slavery is wrong or right. The only reason slavery is wrong at the moment is because the majority disagrees with it, at least in most of the Western world. Why? Because we don’t have a monochromatic ruling class anymore. Romans made slaves of their enemies, as did many other groups. But who is an American or a German? The racial and ethnic barriers are so convoluted now, we can’t distinguish enough to discriminate. This familiarity and lack of precise identity prevents us from subjugating others, as we ourselves can identify more with them and don’t want to be subjugated ourselves by a deteriorated notion of human rights. Race can no longer be rationalized as a different class due to globalization and familiarity, as well as science, DNA, etc.
So whatever the majority believes at the time and at least prop up with some semblance of logic - this is what is right or wrong. This means we can’t judge those in the past or be judged by those in the future. Numbers and perspectives win. We’re all selfish.
Here we go back to the selfishness. I want what is best for me. So in fighting for freedoms, I am going to fight for freedom so far as it upholds my class – or those who are like me and to whom I can relate. If those in my class are hurt, that means I could be next. I will fight for anyone who is similar to me, as that is upholding my rights. And anyone who attempts to get in my class’s way, I will fight tooth and claw to prevent that impediment. I want to be more than free to do as I please on my own, I want to be free to do as I please, period. This is true, even if it means I impede what others want – and often especially if I impede what others want. My goal is not to uphold humanity, but to uphold any group that is similar to me, so I don’t risk threatening my own goals. The more similar to me, the more threatening it is directly to me when they are impeded. However, if a group is not similar to me, I want to be able to subjugate them and use them to my advantage.
Throughout history, people have enacted the above idea in a very common way. We see the same thing in slavery that we saw in the Holocaust. If we can diminish the status of a human to being lesser of a human, or non-human, we can treat them as objects to use for whatever means we please. Stripping away humanity – or that which would make a group similar to us – is the first step to great atrocities.
As stated previously, if a being is no longer a person, or less of one, I can use them as I please.
But if I’m truly a Humian, naturalist, narcissist, surely I’ve learned my lesson from history. While it’s great to subjugate people for my causes, just destroying them is a waste. I need to milk every ounce of worth out of this chattel, just as the Native Americans used every part of an animal carcass.
The subjugated group has no voice. That’s what the majority power is. But even though we don’t want to provide a soapbox for the oppressed to speak from, we can still utilize them.
Since these slaves are property, I can do with them as I please – provided they are my property. The death of a slave is of no consequence, even if I murdered him/her/it. However, that’s what I do with my own property – the good Humian I am. It’s mine to decide, and I don’t want anyone else deciding for me. For this reason, it is not hypocrisy when another pays with their life or wallet for killing one of my slaves. How can someone be punished with death for killing my slaves, if I can kill a slave with no consequence? While many would say it seems a “life for a life,” the slave murderer is really being punished for inconveniencing another of his own class. He is impinging on the slave owner’s inalienable rights. He is taking away their freedom to use their property as they see fit. In this naturalistic world, we cannot allow those who feel they can impose their decisions on others within their class. This action is essentially an assertion by them that they are above our class, which is a significant threat that must be obliterated immediately.
While it does seem like slaves are so human, they’re not. They look similar, understand language, etc. But what is it to be human other than a term that the majority group defines to benefit them? So while the majority can make up objective grounds for defining humanity (i.e. two eyes, white, male, etc), they make up these terms subjectively. They do it without grounds to do so, other than the fact that they can.
To utilize this property even more, why not make me the mouthpiece of the slaves? Certainly since I own them, whatever I choose to do with them is the best, so I best know what they should say. By standing up for my rights and my voice, I’m ensuring that they live in a system where I can be free to provide for them in the best way I see fit.
This is the final reference to slave law. It is a reference to the 3/5 Compromise, where Congress allowed slaves to be counted as 3/5 of a person for voting purposes (this was actually better for slaves than counting them as 5/5 a person, as it gave slave states less of a vote). However, we’re basically putting a fraction of personhood on slaves to keep them in a class that is dissimilar to ours, yet counting them as person enough to warrant “their” voice being heard. This keeps them subjugated, while at the same time, giving me more power.
I don’t know if I should keep the ending as is, or end it with [just as inhumane] or [it is inhumane]. These final two lines highlight the whole analogy I’m trying to make here. While I’m blatantly talking about slavery, if you read through the poem again in the mindset of abortion parallels, I think you’ll see similar rationales there in many ways. I’ll list a few of them here.
1) The aborted are unarguably human beings, yet the majority places a subjectively objective rationale onto when personhood begins. They usually do this with a utilitarian argument, which is subjectively employed. It’s very simple to show that this statement is true, using any biology book. Life begets life and like begets like. We see zygotes are alive, and that life came from sexual reproduction of two human beings. Therefore, we have a human life in the zygote. To deny this is either to deny that the zygote is alive, which is preposterous, since it fulfills all the requirements for life (energy, reproduction of cells, response to environment, etc). The only other way to deny the life’s importance is to say it’s not human, but that’s just as preposterous. What is the life then – bear, pelican, or some other animal?
2) The freeing of slaves hurt their masters financially, just as a child may cause difficulty for its mother if brought to term. However, inalienable rights don’t depend on the feeling of any human being, but are rather intrinsically tied to all human beings. Just as the feelings of a slave owner have nothing to do with the question of a slave’s inalienable rights, so the feelings of a mother have nothing to do with her child’s inalienable rights. If rights are tied to humanity – a static thing – then rights follow humanity regardless of anyone’s feelings or difficulty. So if a fetus is a living human being with inherent human rights, the feelings of the mother should have nothing to do with the conferring of those rights.
3) Hypocrisy exists in the legal system, where the aborted aren’t human beings, yet causing a mother to lose a child is considered a murder.
4) A child born prematurely is considered a living human being, and could not be dispatched legally. Yet some abortions occur up into the second trimester, and partial birth abortions were at one point legal as well. This seems to be a huge double standard.
5) The aborted are voiceless, which makes their demise very easy to overlook for most. They are a class redefined like slaves and like Jews during the Holocaust.
There are a ton of other parallels you can find, but those are some of the basics that are easy to explain here. Perhaps when I have more time I’ll go through and expound on more.
Finally, if you look through the beginning of each stanza of the poem, you'll notice that each begins by asking about what is inside Miss Yuri, or questions what the class is. The four responses the speaker gives are essentially 1) I don't know, 2) I don't care, 3) Let's take advantage of them, 4) I have thrown off my humanity, and any stable grounding for it.
In the end, Miss Yuri’s compromise was that to get what she wants most – good for herself – she had to throw off that which gave her a grounded identity. She threw off her God-given humanity, and denied the image she was intended to bear. And when she did, she lost all grounds for meaningful morality, love, altruism, empathy, anything else objective, and anything other than narcissistic, descriptive actions. Ironically, selfishness destroys the image humanity is intended to bear, and prevents humanity from being what it was truly intended to be. It’s counterproductive, yet so seductive. So Miss Yuri’s attempt to take away the humanity of the class she wanted subjugated did nothing but chip away at her own humanity and her society. Preying on man's innate selfishness and calling upon one's fellow man to indulge himself at the cost of other humans in the class is the absolute opposite of fighting for anyone's rights - women's or otherwise. It's the denial and suppression of human rights, and the deterioration of one's own image-bearing soul and humanity.
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