Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Little Treatise On Morals

Well, it's official: the media have informed us the number-one issue driving Bush voters was "moral values." Therefore, Bush's victory - if we accept it for the sake of argument as legitimate - represents a triumph of moral values over...

Over what, exactly?

I honestly think it would astonish our starry-eyed media to learn that moral values were foremost on the minds of Kerry voters, too. God knows they were foremost on mine. For instance, it's my firm belief that you simply do not lie your country into war for financial and political gain. The evil that has and will come from that single act of fully conscious immorality is beyond all reckoning, and I'll bow to no Old Testament prophet in my condemnation of it.

I also believe that you don't blame the poor for their poverty, nor attack the sick for their sickness. Instead, you help them first materially, and later (if you really must) philosophically. You do this because as a moral being, you're obliged to treat others as you would have them treat you. That's about the oldest moral concept there is, and I see absolutely no trace of it in BushCo's brave new world. (Not, at any rate, unless you believe that our country labors under a death-wish, which is a possibility I'm prepared to consider seriously.)

I would never accuse women who get raped of deserving it, not under any circumstances. Still less would I pile legal or medical woes upon their emotional and physical wounds. I can't imagine an uglier, more loathsome piece of injustice; to commit it under the pretence of personal righteousness is to be a mere vessel for Evil and a traitor to any recognizable human virtue.

I'm grateful that I don't confuse tight-fisted indifference to suffering with greatness of spirit, nor petty viciousness with personal sanctity. I'm grateful that I don't see military might as a sign of God's grace, nor view the murder of children in Iraq as a necessary step towards our national salvation.

My vote against Bush was a deeply felt protest against each of these acts and monuments of moral idiocy, and I cast that vote as passionately as anyone in America could've cast one for him. I'll wager the moral fervor of my beliefs against that of any gay-basher or abortion-bomber you can name. Furthermore, my beliefs have at least as much Biblical support as any cherished pet cruelty of the fundamentalists, and infinitely more support from the Constitution.

We've heard it claimed by the Right that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact." I disagree. The Constitution is most certainly a suicide pact, in exactly the same way that the cry "Give me liberty or give me death" is a suicide pact. Truly moral beings recognize that some types of existence are beneath human dignity, and that tyranny's chief crime is to make human beings choose daily between life and liberty. That's a choice early Christians made when they chose to die rather than to renounce their faith, back in the days when they still believed that it was a bad bargain to win the world but lose one's soul.

So after millennia of soul-searching and thought and prayer and other sorts of high-minded and sincere inquiry...guess what? It turns out that as long as one is opposed to gay rights and abortion, and holds the poor in utter contempt, and worships that most false of all false idols, militarism, one is firmly on the path of righteousness. And the rest of us - the people who don't sneer at suffering or kick people when they're down or make comfortable excuses for evil - are supposed to be quietly abashed as BushCo's gruesome, cynical, and deadly burlesque of morality wins the day.

(Originally posted 11/9/04.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To add to all of the above, just one more reason not to vote for Republicans in the future is the federal budget which just passed. This budget exemplifies the Robin-Hood-in-reverse syndrome: take from the poor and give to the rich. Cut Medicaid and food stamp programs and give new tax cuts to the oil companies whose profits are already skyrocketing. I could go on, but you get the idea. Immoral is an apt description of the budget too.