the lost man chronicles
87. the less scruples the better

"talking to you is like talking to my attorney, you always have a good argument for everything."

and actually i almost was a lawyer.

accepted to a handful of law schools, ultimately i decided to forgo appending esquire to my name. thank god! for, now, i know i would have been utterly unhappy.

taking sides is such a futile exercise when you realize the truth lies somewhere in between. and in the end its all about relative judgment anyway, discriminating voices that allocate a little more of something to another.

flaubert aptly wrote "a thinker should have neither religion nor fatherland nor even any social convictions." scruples are essentially the latter. and they are far from absolute or perfect prescriptions, standards and rules of behavior.

if anything, general morality is like religion, serving as the opiate of the masses. for ultimately, the reason many of us who were taught, believe and abide by The Commandments do so, not because they are a matter of absolute truth, but primarily because we pride ourselves on being "above" primates.

moreover, we just rather not deal with the consequences of participating in the fray. as competition can bring out both the worst and the best in some of us, most of us rather just sit on the sidelines and watch the other animals fight it out amongst themselves.

ironically enough, that ancient purveyor of civilized western righteousness, The Bible, is rife with examples of unscrupulous behavior.

ethics are based on practicality. anyone who argues that they are founded on some mystical foundation of absolute right and wrong is misguided. the reason one does not covet one's neighbor's or brother's wife is that he would rather live a longer and peaceful life. morals are simply prudent guidelines for a smooth functioning society.

oh, and woe to those who might misinterpret this as a call to rebellion or anarchy or revolution or Dionysian abandon. for all i'm really saying is that it's all relative (isn't that all i ever say, anyway?)

truly, what one needs to realize is that the manifestation of one value or set of values can be self-defeating. for the more we have to defend them, the more rigid and stuck in their mire we become, often at the expense of excluding other values. "giving" and altruism means giving up one's independence. being independent means being anti-social or selfish. being selfish means being able to focus and lead and envision and dream and be aware and happy and succeed (despite the envy and chagrin of others).

and thus the trouble begins when we get stuck in the mud of taking sides. for albeit we can justify anything, it doesn't mean everything is justified.

Kasidah Haji Abdu'l el Yezdi

There is no Good, there is no Bad;
These be the whims of mortal will.
What works me weal, that I call good;
What harms and hurts I hold as ill.
They change with place, they shift with race,
And, in the veriest span of time,
Each Vice has worn a Virtue's crown,
All Good was banned as Sin or Crime.

~ translated by Sir Richard Burton

Life is a Big Fat Lie .86 previous chronicle the beginning next chronicle 88. the perpetual evolution of truth

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