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Legislating Elightenment

Here’s a follow-up to a sent item form yesterday. This was from another very nice and upstanding member of our small community whose company I always enjoy quite enthusiastically.

I understand the point of view that compassion and respect cannot and should not be legislated–that’s what I hear lies at the heart of your response, yes?

Yes; they cannot. Compassion, respect, appreciation, understanding, enlightenment, empathy, et al; these and other — some would say ‘virtuous’ — attributes can’t be legislated. The law can only effect one thing: compliance. To wax metaphorical, legislation can’t offer heaven, it can only threaten hell.

And of course that’s precisely why the laws and ordinances are needed: to ensure that folks who would otherwise be ignored or who have historically been marginalized or in some other way "disenfranchised" or dehumanized so that others DON’T feel compassion, understanding, or respect toward them, can participate fully.

Right. We’re not talking about compassion, respect, understanding,
education, or anything like that. We’re talking about force,
compulsion, penalties, and so on. We’re also talking about the transfer
of assets from some to benefit others, also backed by threat of force.

One clarification: such laws and ordinances are perceived as "needed" by some and are typically paid for (via compulsion) in part by others who perceive no such need.

I.e.,
I’m passionately in favor of legislation that provides for the
possibility of inclusion and participation by historically marginalized
folks. And yep, I think the availability of handicapped accessible
parking spots is a good step in that direction.

I’m passionately in favor of Enlightenment,
which naturally subsumes all these compassionate, inclusive, diverse
things we’re talking about. You can’t legislate that either. All the
guns, fists, clubs, jails, execution chambers, fines, levies, seizures,
judgments, legislatures, courts, judges, kings, presidents, laws,
ordinances, statutes, declarations, constitutions, amendments,
subpoenas, election days, and voting booths  in the world cannot compel
enlightenment. They can only compel. As George Washington stated: "government is force." That’s all it is; and I contend — will forever contend — that forced compliance never delivers anything but submission.

I don’t have a problem with handicapped parking, wheelchair ramps,
or sinks no more than 36" high, or whatever. These are all good things.
But who among us cannot identify hundreds, if not thousands of things
that would be good for them, but that are not necessarily accessible?

I just want to be clear about what we are "achieving," and it’s not
compassion (resentment, more likely) or respect (which is earned, even
for those with handicaps) or Enlightenment (which begins by rejecting force and coercion to achieve "noble" ends).

In
truth, I believe that such laws and ordinances can change the life
experience of those who have had the unearned privileges all
along–such as the (temporarily) able-bodied–and that by changing
those life experiences, the laws can actually encourage the growth of
awareness, compassion, empathy, understanding, and care.

Yep.
If you force an animal (even rational animals) long enough you’ll
modify behavior. You could perhaps even condition behavior to the
extent that it’s seemingly "from the heart."

I’m reminded of a line from Christopher Hitchens in his newest book, God is not Great: "False comfort is no comfort."

So I cannot be comforted by mere behavior that mimics a trait
I wish humanity would develop out of Enlightenment. For me, everything
else is just a fraud (and a very expensive one).

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

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