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You Can So

Not over there ==>

Not over there ==>

Have you ever listened to an account and the first thought you have is I cannot get there from here?

Our brains are capable of imagining all manner of concepts and acts which we have a moral repugnance or inhibition against. Most often, we use the capability to empathize. Occasionally, we use it to create fiction. Other times we use it to hold ourselves above the fray.

Understand?

We hear the details of crimes. Our instinct is to say we understand.

: to know the meaning of (something, such as the words that someone is saying or a language)

: to know how (something) works or happens

: to know how (someone) thinks, feels, or behaves

Merriam Webster Logo

Definition compliments of Merriam Webster. For the most part, the definition is true. We know the meanings of the words and how the crime happened. Where we fail is the understanding how someone thinks, feels or behaves.

Psychology explains the thought process behind what brings people to commit heinous acts. We can understand the words and how it works. Learning the feelings behind the behavior is conjecture unless the criminal is before us to answer questions. Even if we can ask the questions and understand the words of the answers, we still cannot always understand.

Relate

The definition of relate which applies to this discussion is:

: to understand and like or have sympathy for someone or something

We do understand the bulk of the story, but are we truly sympathetic? Certainly, we are not empathetic with the person who commits heinous acts. Can we be sympathetic?

Peer Into My Eyes

Almost seeing eye-to-eye

Socially, we are conditioned to feel sorry for someone else’s misfortune, even when the misfortune is self-inflicted. As reactively as the sympathy occurs, our reasoning skills do connect with the criminal. We cannot find the connection within ourselves, but we place ourselves in a similar position to decide if we would have acted in the same manner.

Our tenet systems govern most of our actions. They also govern our inaction. Sometimes, the things we do not do are as important than the things we do. When we fail to fully connect with someone whose behavior is socially unacceptable, adopting higher ground is often our first stop. We truly want to believe the reason we cannot connect is simply we are better people than those who would conceive and execute such actions.

From higher ground, we have the ability to pass judgment on those who perpetrate bad behavior. Is it the right thing to do?

Vacuum

Judgment in a vacuum is not sustainable. Passing judgment is giving opinion legs. Whether the opinion is singular or one which is socially accepted is negligible. Those whose behavior is unacceptable are beneath those whose behavior is acceptable. Throughout history, the foregoing statement has been the cornerstone of justice and caste systems, despite the fact the logic upon which it is based is faulty.

The only thing constant is change.
The fault lies in the nature of our morals. Over the course of time what is accepted becomes prohibited and vice versa. Most of us can name at least one thing which has become legal or illegal in our lifetimes. We like to convince ourselves it is the mature progression of civilization which makes us more enlightened and better than our forebears. History proves us wrong in nearly every example.

The vacillation of society between acceptable and unacceptable behavior proves we pass judgment based solely on our abilities to reach popular consensus, not on our ability to judge morality. Dead societies all have morals and laws which mimic our current systems. We choose to believe we only borrow the best from the past, which is more faulty logic. This is judgment in a vacuum.

Without a survivor, we cannot pose the necessary queries to validate our hypotheses on which morals created stability and which ones were divisive enough shatter the consensus. All we have is conjecture based on our current consensus.

Forces

The logic used to convince a person an action is just can appear sound if posed in a vacuum. As one is convinced, one turns to convince another as validation for being convinced. The viral nature of convincing others forms a consensus without testing the hypothesis.

copernicusEnter the heretic. The revolutionary challenges both the consensus and the past by introducing the concept which has never occurred. Challenging the consensus is thankless in the moment, even when the concept is validated over time as being correct. On occasion, the revolutionary fact changes the perception of the moral nature of societal constructs.

When the heretic plots the path from here to there in such a way one person can be convinced, the social morality begins to morph. No matter how pervasive the consensus, it will never be unanimous. The minority may not know, but in time, their position will cycle back into the mainstream as they quietly convince others to see things their way, whether through persistence or nostalgia for the “good old days”.

Battle

wordsmith forgeThe powerful nature of the words we use to convince others of our righteous stances is the sword with which we slay the society’s morals. Words shift the perspective until someone new can see the world through our prism. Revolution is rarely considered quiet; however, we affect the most change when we reach others with calm, cool logic, however circular it may be.

No one wants to be forced to change. The moment anger, especially self-righteous anger, enters the conversation, the person we want to change is no longer listening. Rhetoric is the often delivered in a way which is much more akin to preaching to the choir rather than the influential language its definition purports. Its tone is derogatory and condescending, inflated with the superiority assumed is imbued with agreeing to its veracity.

In terms of garnering sympathy, kinder, more intimate words and venues for conversation inevitably make far better weapons than rhetoric.


Have you ever been a heretic or revolutionary? How often are you met with rhetoric being used improperly?

Hashtags: #rhetoric #change #revolution

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12 Comments

  1. In Spanish there exists attempt to clarify “to know”.

    In Spanish, there are two verbs that can express the idea “to know.” There are slight differences between these verbs which are good to know for a more fluent speech. The word you choose depends on the context in which it is used and they are not interchangeable.

    Conocer

    Conocer Indicative Present Forms

    conocer – to know, to be acquainted with
    conozco conocemos
    conoces conocéis
    conoce conocen Conocer Uses
    To express knowledge (or lack of knowledge) about something or someone means that we have some experience with the thing (or person). You can know, or be acquainted with, a book, a movie, a place, or a person.

    Conozco un buen sitio para ver la puesta del sol. (I know a good place to watch the sunset.)
    Conoce una película que te interesará. (He knows a movie that would interest you.)
    No conocemos Madrid. (We are not acquainted with Madrid.)
    ¿Conoces a mi amiga Melissa? (Do you know my friend Melissa?)
    The use of the preposition a is always required when the direct object is a person.
    Saber

    Saber Present Indicative Forms

    saber – to know
    sé sabemos
    sabes sabéis
    sabe saben
    Saber Uses

    Saber is used to talk about learned skills. You can know how to swim, draw, speak a language, etc. It is also used to ask about knowing a bit of information about something, or knowing something by memory. To express the knowledge of how “to do” something, use saber plus an infinitive.

    Sé hablar español. (I know how to speak Spanish.)
    Anita no sabe nadar. (Anita doesn’t know how to swim.)
    ¿Sabes que Stephanie es casada? (Do you know if Stephanie is married?)
    ¿Sabes dónde hay un buen café? (Do you know where a good cafe is?)

    In English a word can mean so many different things dependent on intent or meaning and context. Other languages use a different word to reflect more precise meanings. English must be very difficult to learn. Just one example: think how many things the word “run” can mean…

    Psychiatrists can state they know how and why the savage criminal mind operates but can anyone really understand or imagine such monstrous behaviors esp those committed in today’s world?

    Reply
    • For a language which steals (and bastardizes) so many words from other cultures, it would seem English would be rich. It is a poor language where we overuse a core of words and morph their meanings to suit our current purpose. Your example is akin to the one I use for love, where Greek has 13 words which have varied definitions of love.

      As to the shrinks, I have to side with them. I have listened to the criminal mind and understand its logic, even if I know I do not have the capacity to act likewise. Just like some people could never jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I see the allure of skydiving. To me, it is the same premise.

      Reply
  2. To answer:

    I am both, and have been since age four which is when I began to observe how little the world resembled what anyone was telling me. To the second question, I find that about 96%, approximately (*smile*), of everything I hear coming out of other people’s mouths is incorrectly used rhetoric, when it isn’t complete babble.

    SIGH….

    Nice analysis. I wonder how many folks will ‘get it”…..

    Ta, then, luv

    gigoid, the dubious
    gigoid recently posted..No title today…..My Profile

    Reply
    • I would love to think many would. I do so enjoy a good conversation which actually uses words as they were defined and meant to be employed. I, too, am both… often. *grins*

      Reply
  3. Mostly these days, I listen and shake my head. That is all. Mostly these days, I cringe. I think we use words to bully, not convince. This is what I think today. We bludgeon with words, we beat the living Hell out of our perceived opponent, whether with ‘big’ words or ‘mean’ words, the outcome is the same.

    We are conditioned to have empathy, compassion but we are not conditioned for whom. We are conditioned to create lines in the sand, we are not conditioned how far to move those lines. Are ‘morals’ are ever changing, our values ever evolving.

    (by the way, I hate your ‘love button’ which mostly doesn’t work)

    Reply
    • I will tinker with the button.

      I think in our desire to evolve we abdicate our ability to change our own worlds. The post coming will delve more explicitly into how right I think you are, my sister. <3

      Reply
  4. Have you ever been a heretic or revolutionary?

    Yes but only when it wouldn’t get me in trouble 🙂
    Bearman recently posted..Santa’s Home SecurityMy Profile

    Reply
  5. I am coming from a place of having been one who was about to commit a heinous crime. I well remember my state of mind and my reasons for doing it. What stopped me from acting was not society or laws or even my inner morality. It was chance. That said, I don’t have the ability to empathize with others who commit heinous crimes. It’s a world beyond my comprehension. I cannot peer into another’s mind to see the seeds of violence. Therefore, I do not, and cannot understand.
    Gail xooxox
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Thanksgiving Eve, 2015My Profile

    Reply
    • There are many like you who cannot see the seeds of others’ minds. There are days I sincerely wish I could say I do not.
      xxx

      Reply
  6. Society changes around us, so most of us have probably been both, in little ways at least, as we don’t usually change or views as fast as values and mores do.
    Binky recently posted..Glass Half FullMy Profile

    Reply
    • Interesting, and I believe entirely correct. Much like Val said, we tend to stand fast when moving is the most suited action to our well-being.

      Reply

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