Polarized Morality

I’ve been spending time recently trying to understand is how it’s possible for people to overlook the harm their political stance is causing. These people aren’t sociopaths, but they can ignore the injustice of “let’s talk about the looting, not the murders” and the real harm (including deaths!) being caused by “open early” and “I won’t wear masks.” How can they not see the harm they are causing?

This gave me some things to think about:

“Both progressives and conservatives are motivated by morality, but different morality. Progressives tend to value care, especially for victims of oppression, while conservatives cherish order and sanctity. Conservatives, in our era and arguably in all eras, are hypersensitive to threats to order. This is neither good nor bad, it’s just a fact (some studies suggest that inclinations toward conservatism and liberalism are somewhat genetically influenced). Order is no small virtue in a polity and progressives shouldn’t discount it. Arguably, it’s the foundation for other virtues progressives treasure, such as fairness. … The conservative battle cry [is driven by] evidence that safety and security are threatened.”

From “Trump the Barbarian,” by Mona Charen

I think that’s the fundamental difference. If you believe order is necessary for progress, then you are more willing to overlook (or convince yourself to ignore) pain. You can convince yourself that it is short-term, localized pain, and justified in pursuit of order. Justified because order is needed for the greater good.

Personally I think that is a paper-thin excuse for terrible and needless selfishness, but I am coming to believe it’s the kernel from which this hellish crop is grown.

(h/t Brian Ball)

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