Friday, July 27, 2012

Conditional Radical Respect


Atheists are frequently accused of having no moral standards because moral standards are more diffuse and driven by intelligent evaluation of social imperatives of both religious and secular sources. The most important stumbling block is how to deal with social transgressions without bigotry. The Christian paradigm of hating the sin and loving the sinner just doesn’t work for me because the sinner is the problem. The UU radical respect can and frequently does degenerate into “Officer Krupke.” It is nobody’s fault, and nobody can be held responsible for their behavior.

I have never liked either of these responses. I refuse bigotry, as no group or class is all bad, but I do pay attention to behavior of people in certain groups and make certain assumptions about the group based on those observations. To use a non-religious example, big investment bankers may be all right as neighbors, but once they get to work I have zero trust that they are being socially responsible. I would have no issue with holding them collectively responsible for financial crimes against humanity. Or, since corporations are now people, throwing all board members and officers in jail once fraud by the corporation is proved. They collectively are lacking in Frith and oathbreakers with the society they pretend to serve.

I am generally careful to differentiate individuals from the group they represent until they refuse to disassociate themselves from the socially dysfunctional actions of the group. I will admit that it is sometimes hard for some “Christian” denominations, as it seems that being antisocial is part of being in the denomination. But even in the worst of them some individuals can be decent outside of their place of worship.

As for individuals aside from any group, radical respect is a given until through specific actions they forfeit that respect. Again the Asatru concept of oathbreaker is very useful here. Radical respect assumes that all are signed on to the social contract of Frith or the secular self evident truths, and those that violate that contract have a tough rehabilitation program ahead of them not only to prove that they regret the violation but that they have taken steps to repair the damage caused by that violation. Lacking that they deserve no respect or compassion from me or my ERSSG.

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