Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Moral Individual - iv

As an individual progresses in life, there would be many instances where s/he finds her/himself guilty of harm to another person or a group of persons (and vice versa but focus is on the morality of the individual here). This harm was not initiated by the person him/herself but because of  cultural norms was part of the life. The perpetrator and the victim both were unaware of this relationship and the perpetrator always imagined a noble ring or a mutually enjoyable act in the way s/he associated with the other person.

The perpetrator realizes this(harm) as s/he acquires greater knowledge about the long term implications in the form of emotional or physical or one feeding the other harms to the other person. Let us consider this person has developed empathy because of self-pity. How would s/he respond to this situation?

Let's consider the worst case scenario, where the perceived normal relationship has been highly beneficial to his/her emotional or physical needs. In this case, a radical change in the relationship is difficult. In this situation, the crystal clear knowledge of the harm s/he has caused or s/he is going to cause in the long term gets blurred. S/he develops a new self-pity in the eventuality of conceding his/her fault.

A new self-pity on his/her perceived struggle without the psychological or physical fulfillment of his/her needs would make him/her to go slow on his/her own determination to change. It also develops a cynical rationalization that the permanent harm could have been done already before s/he acquired the knowledge of it and any change on his/her part would anyway make no difference.

A society with the burden of many cultural and ritualized practices which deny human rights to individuals or ask them to perform acts with a self-serving reason that those are 'common', cannot hope to correct itself by individuals' goodness. The individual goodness is strongly dependent on the empathy based on the self-pity and the self-pity can develop with the loss of privilege which in turn redirects the empathy requirement on the perpetrators themselves. In such cases, a non-individualistic action called justice which only seeks to correct the wrong done on individuals disregarding perpetrator individual empathy is the only true morality.

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