Changing the Bully Who Rules the World: Reading and Thinking about Ethics

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Title Changing the Bully Who Rules the World: Reading and Thinking about Ethics
Publication Type Book
Pub Year 1996
Authors Bly, C.
Publisher Milkweed Editions
Keywords activism, change, environment, ethics, group, integrity, social responsibility
Notes activism"We serious readers like to meditate upon villainy when we find it in life or in books. Such meditating makes us feel philosophical. Helping professionals are less peaceable. They think of human cruelty as something to study with the unswerving goal of getting rid of it. They interest themselves with, among other subjects, a spectacular specialty of villainy that would have made the poet Tom McGrath prick up his ears--that is, the villainous cunning by which a few human beings condition whole enclaves of other human beings dutifully to commit large-scale cruelty. They regard cruelty the way physicians regard a bacterium or a virus: first, they identify it as fast as they can--get its measure, so to speak, figure out its lifestyle and habitat of choice--and then second, they devise for it the most hostile environment that their technical prowess can invent. We would be furious if our doctor looked into our sore throat, drew back, and then cried out, 'How utterly fascinating! How extraordinary, really, the way those germs writhe and thrive in the host's dark vault of throat!' We want the doctor to be a confrontational agent of change, not an aesthete. If our doctor won't get rid of those squatters we'll find another doctor who will." (p. xxii)
ethics"We are an ill-behaved species, generally speaking. Still, we have invented and carved into the stones of nearly every religion three ideas that no other animal has recorded so far. No animal would stop licking the red off its paws for an abstract idea, never mind a moral abstraction.

The first idea is that you shouldn't hurt the innocent of your own species, even if they happen not to be known to you personally. The second is that mercy is a positive good, not just a default activity of the weak. The third idea is that is good to stand apart from the group when the group is unjust, even if the group responds with muscle and scorn. Motivation for standing apart from the group has to come from integrity, never from wanting profit. No practical extrovert would go to the grief of such loneliness." (p. 484)