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I'm Not a Good Person and Neither are You
Just read it.
At my core, I am a despicable moral relativist. A self-loathing Gen Z'er that's somehow carved out an optimistic outlook on the world. But this optimism is irrelevant. I'm here today not to convince you that you're a terrible person but instead that you're not a good one, nor would you want to be.
What makes a good person from the public's perspective are what LaVey calls "good guy badges." I'm partial to this term. I see them everywhere. People stick signs in their windows, companies donate staggering amounts of money, churchgoers dress up for their silly rites, activists speak at rallies and protests, and my neighbor picks up garbage around the neighborhood daily. Why do these people do such things? Some may have an internal driver pushing them. That internal driver may be for some kind of rational self-interest. Regardless of whether they feel compelled by internal forces, many others are doing it for the good guy badge. And fuck them, I refuse to recognize such accolades.
In 12-step groups, there's a concept of doing the next right thing when faced with a moral dilemma. Two entirely disconnected ideas are doing the next right thing vs. doing the right thing. Doing the next right thing forces you to analyze intent and impact, subsequently forcing one to make a plan regardless of the breadth of its implications. Doing the right thing pushes one to reach conceptually into the social sphere to decide one's next steps. One is rational self-interest, and the other is rational community interest. Can you tell which is which?
It's natural to interpret rational self-interest as selfish and rational community-interest as self-less. Rational community interest is self-less, but that does not mean it's a net positive, especially for the community. Rational self-interest is the better community-building paradigm. Building your morality from the morality of the herd is detrimental to the world because the crowd is mad and knows not what is up or down, morally speaking. Those who have dealt with codependency issues, you know what I'm talking about. Before one can help others, one must make sure they have satisfied themselves. Because how does one expect to aid others if their needs are unmet? They can't.
The mentality that doing the right thing, determined by community-based ideas of what's right and wrong, is the sad end of the good guy badge philosophy. Those who benefit from using specific good guy badges need you to believe they are valid for the magic to work. Philanthropists are one such class of people. They can't have you realizing that the money they donate is tax evasion and a marketing ploy. The trick would be foiled if you were to become aware of this. The religious can't have you realizing that their proclaimed faith and goodwill is not what it seems. Instead, their so-called faith is a ploy to enhance feelings of superiority and increase social power. Why else would the righteous proclaim indefinitely about how much faith they have? Because of these common scams, most people have been lulled into a trance, believing that the good guy badges are valid. Therefore, ordinary people now think that to be good, they need to follow in the footsteps of the people with their own good guy badges.
The antidote to this is Nietzsche's oft-misunderstood concept of the ubermensch.To channel Nietzsche's spirit of being the first psychologist, there are some therapies we need to administer to ourselves. And by extension, the whole of civilization, to cure ourselves of the bad ideas around the good/bad paradigm. We can develop better ideas from them and undermine everyone who benefits from touting good guy badges.
Congratulations! You've already been exposed to the first antidote a couple paragraphs ago. The first step is to be able to recognize, see-through, and call out the lesser people who want you to know that they have a good guy badge. See it for what it is, a smoke and mirrors show intended to manipulate onlookers into changing their perspective of reality.
One can see this exemplified easily at most professional or otherwise conventions where some kind of non-profit organization is involved. At some point in the convention, there will be a list of supporters displayed, possibly a keynote speaker that mentions the kind support of some other organization towards their cause. If you're lucky, one donor will be allowed to speak in front of the attendees. The more impressive the keynote speaker rattling off the list of donors, the more money those donors had to hand over to be mentioned. Some of the smoke and mirror shows at these conventions will be easier to see through than others. The most difficult of which will be conventions for those that are afflicted with some kind of ailment. If you get the chance to see a donor take the stage and speak about why they care so much as to donate money, you will see them take every opportunity to deflect from their true intention. In turn, leading you to believe the narrative they've crafted. Don't be fooled. Some donors may be partial to the cause they're supporting, but there will always be hidden intent. Look for that hidden intent.
What does their business do?
Who are they married to?
Who are they trying to marry?
Who do they want to impress?
The next step is to break with the herd, which is easier said than done; everyone will do it differently. To do so, one needs to notice when they're being influenced by others around them and viciously question the notion. Are you going with the herd because you aught, or is there thought behind your actions, and they just happen to line up with the philosophy of the world around you?
The end goal is that of a mindfulness exercise. Be in the moment as it's happening and consciously act with intent towards the goal you're trying to attain. A mindfulness instructor should tell you that while living through each mundane task, take the time to live through that task with intent. For example, while washing your hands, snap yourself out of the autopilot frame of mind many of us enter when doing something that we've done thousands of times. Bring yourself into washing your hands, feel the soap glide across your skin and notice the friction that comes back to your skin once washed away. Notice the sensation of drying the water off of each individual finger. Pay special attention to the lost heat from your hands because water evaporates off the surface moments after drying them. Take in the experience, and don't forget to command each step consciously as each one comes along.
This same exercise works for your own thoughts. Notice what you're thinking; ask yourself, is what I'm thinking right now something that I want to believe, or has this been put into my head? Once you recognize that something has violated your will and come into your mind rent-free, it's elementary to turn the process over and perform surgery on that thought. Removing or adjusting as needed and according to your own enlightened will. Doing this once in your life will set you apart from the rest of humanity. Making a practice of it will give you power over reality itself.
Once one can restructure their thought pattern, they will find themselves qualified to restructure reality and morality. When executed well, the practice should benefit themselves and the community. Although, there is hardly a framework for this. Many people start with their childhood religion or some other moral structure they may be inclined to give weight. They comb through these texts and extract things that sound beneficial to them. Eventually, people branch out into new areas of study and different moral hierarchies from other times and incorporate those principles into their own personal morality. As this process begins to reach its final form, one will undoubtedly find themselves, through their own writing and experiences, building entirely new moral structures. Then, over time, one may revert back a step, skip to the end, or try something altogether novel. The process should be neverending, for when one believes they've reached some kind of end of morality, one is most certainly very lost.
The proper morality in any situation depends almost entirely on the space and time it must be practiced in. Homosexual relationships with underaged kids may have been morally superior in Plato's time. But today would be far from palatable in any reasonable person's mind, and for a good reason. Time changes, and so do the people existing in it; therefore, the ways we conduct ourselves should also change.
There is still a correct way to behave in the given circumstances one may find themselves in. Additionally, this proper action should be relatively easy for any thinking person to discern as long as they can comprehend all the factors and people at play in the scene. Although, we may have to include some requirements to be considered a thinking person for this to be true more often than not. Regardless, suppose one party isn't damaging another's life, liberty, or property against the others' will. In that case, the situation should be pretty cut and dry.
We must shed the false dichotomy of good versus bad. With it, all we are doing is inviting the madness of crowds into our personal lives. As individuals, we must critically judge our own thoughts and cultures. Ruthlessly overturning anything that contradicts our own rational self-interest or promotes a false narrative of goodness for others at our expense. This process can't be undertaken with a group as a whole; it can only be done by an individual and hopefully many individuals concurrently.
What I'm calling moral relativism for the sake of simplicity. With a more nuanced reading, you'll see that the relativism I'm calling for is slightly different than the generally accepted leftist ideology of relativism.