Monday, December 13, 2004

Why blog?

The people I live with are members of an organization that has been, for hundreds of years, the single most powerful opponent of progress and which is still causing unnecessary hardship and pain around the world. These people have beliefs which I find to be not just irrational but, even, immoral. Not just relatively harmlessly so, but in a profoundly dangerous and troubling way. These are the people I love – my wife, my mother, most of the rest of my family.

While I am thoroughly convinced of the error of their beliefs – and they of mine – we live together. For others the question of tolerance is an ideal, for us it is the fibre of our every day. How to live in a way consistent with your own beliefs while also living with people who do not share those beliefs? What do words like ‘tolerance’, ‘respect’, ‘acceptance’ mean in this context?

In a sense it seems to me that to live ethically is impossible. In a perfect world being ethical would be meaningless – everyone would do it out of habit, well-ordered self-interest or whatever other reason – and everything would be sure to turn out for the best. Ethical behaviour only has moral urgency because we do not live in a perfect world. As much is said by theistic theodicy in trying to understand why God would let evil exist. However, what seems not to be as often understood is that in an imperfect world behaving ethically is just as doomed. Whatever we do, we are by necessity caught in interactions that mean someone inevitably is wounded. We choose the lesser evil and by choosing become responsible for it.

Writing about these things gives them a clarity and concreteness that they otherwise often lack. Writing in an, at least potentially, public forum means that what I write has to try to stand on its own. This is why, it seems to me, I have started this blog.


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