A thought-provoking Twitter thread on how morality changes with time, perspective, and personal consequences.
I sometimes ask students what their position on slavery would have been had they been white and living in the South before abolition. Guess what? They all would have been abolitionists! They all would have bravely spoken out against slavery, and worked tirelessly against it.
July 1, 2020 6:03 pm - Steve PetersIt seems like everybody’s talking about racism at the moment, but there’s significant disagreement about what it is. Some people claim that black people can’t be racist. Other’s insist that racism no longer exists. Still others seem to believe that white people are racist simply because they exist. It feels impossible to unravel it all....continue reading on Medium..."What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly."
A little extra context on yesterday's post about Floridians angrily objecting to state-mandated mask wearing:
Texas and Florida — whose leaders were praised by President Trump for being among the first to end coronavirus restrictions — abruptly reversed course Friday as virus infections soared to record levels, slamming the door shut on bars and imposing other measures in a bid to contain the pandemic.
Health officials reported 8,942 new cases on Friday, up almost 77 percent from the previous week, and people are arguing bout wearing masks...
June 26, 2020 8:06 pm - Steve PetersPretty much everywhere you look people are finding things to fight about. Race, gender, political leanings, religion, the list seems endless. The situation feels hopeless. How are we supposed to learn to get along if we’re so different? How can we possibly solve all of these various points of disagreement? The good news is, the...continue reading on Medium...
I had something approaching a moment of clarity whilst watching this video of some angry Floridians speaking out against a vote to make masks mandatory.
On the one hand, there’s a temptation to just laugh stuff like this off. It’s tempting to dismiss the people in it as fringe lunatics whose opinion doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of us reasonable folk.
But videos like this expose a very human tendency to put aside reason when we’re captured by an idea. It shows how easy it is to go completely off the rails when a bad idea happens to resonate with us. We’re all susceptible to this. This attachment to an idea, and the willingness to follow it down whatever rabbit hole it leads, is the cognitive error behind every form of extremism afflicting the world today.
To see this problem clearly, and more importantly to begin addressing it, we need to stop thinking about this disease only in terms if its various symptoms. Racism, homophobia, sexism, religion fanaticism. These aren’t separate problems. They’re different symptoms of a disease known as the failure of reasoning. It’s what happens when our feelings are powerful enough that we stop caring about whether they make sense.
I’m not trying to say that feelings don’t matter. It’s feeling that point us towards problems, it’s feelings that make us care enough that we want to do something about this problems. But feelings aren’t enough, we need to think clearly. It may be our feelings which inspire us to address a situation, but it’s the ability to put them to one side that allows us to find solutions.