Friday, June 29, 2007

Acts of Good

"If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life, as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called simoon, which fills the mouth and nose and ears and eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me--some of his virus mingled with my blood. No, -- in this case I would rather suffer evil the natural way" --Henry David Thoreau from Walden

Damn, what would Thoreau have thought if the Justice League came busting through the roof of his house on Walden Pond because they had just learned that Brainiac was on the way to use his home as a new base for conquering the universe?

Therein lies the problem with all evangelicalism. It is in the best interest of all living creatures in this dimension and others that folks like Brainiac, Gorilla Grodd, and the Joker be stopped. Aquaman knows far better than we do of how twisted the Black Manta can be so he probably feels that whatever actions are required to stop him are acceptable. We also saw within the scriptures of the Justice League Unlimited; Lex Luthor attempt to run for president claiming he had reformed his evil ways. He did so under the suspicious and watchful eye of Superman, Martian Manhunter, and the rest of the League. And sure enough, Luthor's intentions were insincere and he was ultimately stopped by our heroes(several buildings were destroyed and lives were disrupted in the process).

So how far should someone go when they set out to do their good upon someone else?

Surely Christian and Muslim people believe that they are doing the right thing when they try to impose their morals and beliefs upon other people. After all, they believe in physical realms called Heaven and Hell and they feel it is in our best interest to avoid the latter at all costs. The same can be said of authoritative socialist regimes from the past like the Khmer Rouge, who probably believed that forcing people out in the countryside to work like slaves and routinely be rounded up and shot was in the best interests of Cambodia's people as a whole.

In our Star Trek universe this is not dissimilar to the Borg, who conquer and assimilate entire worlds with the belief that they are obtaining perfection and that those who's minds are erased and bodies altered will share in that dream (that is if Borg automatons can be said to have beliefs). In the scriptures of Star Trek The Next Generation we learn from Locutus of Borg (Star Trek Next Generation: Season 4, Chapter 1) and from a Borg separated from the Collective (STNG: Season 5, Chapter 2), that they cannot understand why humans and other alien races resist them when their main goal is to improve quality of life for all species. The Borg believe that the concept of individuality and free will is harmful to a race as Christians believe that sin will bring down punishment from their God both here and in the afterlife.

But there is one major question worth asking. How much of a person or a people's good is done to enhance the lives of those they seek to rescue and how much of it is done for their own self-preservation and self-gratification?


1) The Black Manta's drive to seek out revenge against the ocean which he feels is represented by Aquaman is what drives him to lead a life of crime. If Aquaman were to lay down his life to put an end to this quest for revenge, would that remove the threat we all face from the Black Manta?

2) The Borg do not evolve, nor grow so they are required to conquer and assimilate in order to survive. It seems that their stated goal of seeking to improve the lives of all humanoids is a moral justification to commit heinous acts of conquest to achieve their own ends.

3) The Bible and the Koran instruct their followers to go out and spread the word and convert people. Do they care about the souls of the non-believers or are they worried that their own inaction might lead to their God becoming angry at them and punishing them as surely as he would the sinner?

4) And when you look at totalitarian communist regimes, you can't help notice how many portraits and statues there are of the people who instituted them. If communism exists for the betterment of the common worker, why would anyone even need to know any leader's name, let alone be completely surrounded by their images?

(It should be noted that at this point the Borg queen would tell me that as an individual I am small and think in small terms and the evangelical Christian might say that I should stop asking questions and surrender my all my objectivity to faith alone. Uncle Joe Stalin would probably just have me taken out and hanged.)

These are an age old questions, I'm sure. Surely inaction is not the answer to ruining people's lives with your "good" and those things we find to be wrong should be avoided especially when employed merely for self gain. Perhaps Thoreau says it best:

"I would not subtract anything from the praise that is due to philanthropy, but merely demand justice for all who by their lives and works are a blessing to mankind. I do not value chiefly a man's uprightness and benevolence, which are, as it were, his stem and leaves. Those plants of whose greenness withered we make herb tea for the sick serve but a humble use, and are most employed by quacks. I want the flower and fruit of a man; that some fragrance be wafted over from him to me, and some ripeness flavor our intercourse. His goodness must not be a partial and transitory act, but a constant superfluity, which costs him nothing and of which he is unconscious."


1 comment:

the laughing gypsy said...

LOVE your insight into communist commemorative art. Never thought of that before. Well spoken!