Thursday, June 2, 2011

Answering the Exhortations of a Moral Leech

In response to a commenter over at PJ who exhorted us all to sacrifice as our "brother's keeper", in response to this excellent op-ed by Beth Haynes in opposition to Medicare, I said:

Who is the "brother" we are obligated to be keeping?

Is it a common criminal, a moocher, a looter, a bureaucrat, or just the average guy who votes for Obama so that we can all be enslaved to provide for our "brothers" at the point of a government gun?

Or is the "brother" we are keeping someone we value -- a family member, a close friend, an acquaintence who shares our own convictions and ideas and values and returns the favor with love or appreciation or simply the inspiration of their own integrity, goodness or other virtue?

The first example is a sacrifice. The second is not.

No one should be sacrificing. We should be trading -- exchanging value for value, including the spiritual values of honesty, integrity, independence and justice.

If we help someone -- to the extent we can afford it -- it is justice to their character that make them deserving.

But to insert the dictates of the government into that equation short-circuits the entire process of individual judgment. If I can't judge who deserves my help by my standards and by my judgment of what I can afford to help them, all becomes sacrifice. I become a slave to their need and a slave to the bureaucrat who forces me to help them at the point of his gun.

To quote John Galt (Atlas Shrugged),
"I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. ...You have cried that man's sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. 
"You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty. 
"You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection. You have fought for it, you have dreamed of it, you have wished it, and I -I am the man who has granted you your wish. 
"Whoever is now within reach of my voice, whoever is man the victim, not man the killer, I am speaking at the deathbed of your mind, at the brink of that darkness in which you're drowning, and if there still remains within you the power to struggle to hold on to those fading sparks which had been yourself--use it now. 
"The word that has destroyed you is 'sacrifice.' Use the last of your strength to understand its meaning. You're still alive. You have a chance. 
"'Sacrifice' does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. 'Sacrifice' does not mean the rejection of the evil for the sake of the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil. 'Sacrifice' is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don't.
"....To achieve the virtue of sacrifice, you must want to live, you must love it, you must burn with passion for this earth and for all the splendor it can give you--you must feel the twist of every knife as it slashes your desires away from your reach and drains your love out of your body. It is not mere death that the morality of sacrifice holds out to you as an ideal, but death by slow torture. 
"...this double-jointed, double-standard morality splits you in half, so it splits mankind into two enemy camps: one is you, the other is all the rest of humanity. You are the only outcast who has no right to wish or live. You are the only servant, the rest are the masters, you are the only giver, the rest are the takers, you are the eternal debtor, the rest are the creditors never to be paid off. You must not question their right to your sacrifice, or the nature of their wishes and their needs: their right is conferred upon them by a negative, by the fact that they are 'non-you.' 
"...Your code declares that the rational man must sacrifice himself to the irrational, the independent man to parasites, the honest man to the dishonest, the man of justice to the unjust, the productive man to thieving loafers, the man of integrity to compromising knaves, the man of self-esteem to sniveling neurotics. Do you wonder at the meanness of soul in those you see around you? The man who achieves these virtues will not accept your moral code; the man who accepts your moral code will not achieve these virtues. 
"...Such is your morality of sacrifice and such are the twin ideals it offers: to refashion the life of your body in the image of a human stockyards, and the life of your spirit in the image of a dump. 
"..."This country--the product of reason--could not survive on the morality of sacrifice. It was not built by men who sought self-immolation or by men who sought handouts. It could not stand on the mystic split that divorced man's soul from his body. It could not live by the mystic doctrine that damned this earth as evil and those who succeeded on earth as depraved. 
"...In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title.'s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads."

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