Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What assumptions have I left unquestioned?
A few thoughts on reason and being a moderate:
For most of my life, I have defined myself as a moderate. By that, I wanted to call attention to my willingness to listen to reasonable arguments and to find a middle ground or compromise. I have always seen it as a matter of being balanced, or an acknowledgement of the fact that issues are rarely not black and white, but grey.
But that’s not really being a “moderate.” First, it assumes that there are “reasonable arguments” on both sides. Sometimes there are–at first glance. If you’re discussing, for instance, about how your city should expand transit, I’m guessing there’s probably a whole spectrum of potentially reasonable ideas. Same thing for an argument about whether electric cars or hydrogen cars are a better approach to cutting emissions. But each of these, when you look further, is built on an underlying assumption that is taken as a black-and-white truth. The first question is built on the premise that transit is important to a city. The second is built on the premise that car manufacturers should be looking to cut emissions because of climate change. And it’s on those bigger issues where taking a moderate stance is, in my opinion impossible. You can be a moderate when it comes to actions, for sure. But when it comes down to fundamentals, there is very often no moderate common ground. Some of these are societal, others are personal, but they include things like the following: For the societal ones:
–Whether food, shelter, and safety are fundamental human rights
–Whether or not government exists to serve all people, or just some
–Whether the individual, as a member of society, has certain responsibilities to that society
And for the personal ones:
–Kindness vs. cruelty
–Justice vs. injustice
–Courage vs. cowardice
–Goodwill vs. ill will
What I’ve learned in recent years is that there is no such thing as a moderate when it comes to these essential questions of ethics and morality. Again, you can have debates about actions, and perhaps those can be displayed across a range, but every action needs to be questioned regarding these core values and whether they are in harmony with them.
Lots of time today working on my embroidery, as well as putting together some key data for an SCA project and finishing up some editing/review work for my friend. While I’m embroidering, I’m binging on a true crime podcast, Root of Evil, about the man suspected of committing the Black Dahlia murder and his very strange life (and how it impacted his family). I do have a bit of weakness for true crime, probably as a leftover from having too much Forensic Files on in the background, and this is kind of a classic noir story because it was both horrific and remains officially unsolved. The podcast is narrated by a couple of this man’s granddaughters, and it turns out a lot of the evidence against him was uncovered by their great uncle (his son), who was a homicide detective. It’s kind of one of those “can’t look away” things.