by Robert Frenz
15 May 2000
In an earlier article, I mentioned that morality was a set of trial and error rules established by a community to insure not only its survival, tranquility and maximization of individual liberty, but also that it was not the product of some abstract nor omnipotent universality. What is good for one does not imply that it is also good for another. What is bad for the gazelle is good for the leopard. One man's trash is another's wealth.
It is doubtful if 1 out of 20 people, in any community, is capable of extending his individual notions of what is moral, to others in that community. When I steal from you, I do benefit and on an infantile, savage or selfish level, that is the end of the matter. It's great to imprison those who steal except if the thief is myself or someone I care much about. The theft of a stale donut is not really considered stealing since we can rationalize that the fellow didn't have a use for it anyway. Thus, we've done him a favor. Stealing then becomes situational depending upon who does it and under what circumstances and to what extent. American society is saturated with this sort of thought and that's an excellent reason for the prediction of its collapse, if present trends continue.
Morality does not 'fly' on its own. It has legs of straw which need substantial starch. That starch is fear – the fear of consequences.
Those in political power always have their 'enforcers', otherwise they wouldn't be in power. Whether the army, police force or a local "hanging judge", most people pay attention to the rules, not out of some benevolent sense, but because they don't want 'big brother' to stomp their useless frames.
The religious leaders, who are also in the control business, do not possess battalions of mercenaries willing to commit murder and mayhem on their behalf since the political bunch always ensures that they, and they alone, are in possession of the power to deal with those who disturb them. God's middlemen, therefore, can only rely upon propaganda to the effect that God is forever watching and will pounce upon a transgressor during a blink of an eye. It soon became obvious that instant punishments were almost non-existent and so the party line assured the followers that some sort of tally was being kept which would be called into witness when the final account was rendered. (It was during a brief bit of a 'no brainer' physical encounter with Ruth when she murmured, "God is watching, you know?" I replied, "I sure hope so. He invented it.")
A consequence must be something which is quite undesirable or else there would exist no fear of it. The more severe a consequence, the greater the fear. (One is less likely to play Russian roulette than 'hits or cracks?'. 'Hits or cracks?' was a game we played as kids. Camel cigarettes were always marked on the inside of the wrapper with an "H" or a "C" followed by a number. We never knew what this code meant. Anyway, upon seeing such a wrapper in the street, one would yell, "Hits or cracks?" The other fellow would take his choice and the wrapper was then opened to reveal whether he was correct in his guess. If correct, he was then allowed to 'hit' – meaning a forceful punch in the upper arm – or 'crack' – a open-handed smack along the side of the head – the loser the number of times dictated by the number following the letter. In those days, when men were men and boys were boys, this was not considered a matter of parental concern nor grounds for a lawsuit. Most of today's 'men' would not even qualify as boys in my childhood days. I still bear a scar from a branding iron as a result of one of our many playful games.) To lose the possession of one's hands, as a consequence of stealing, is certainly less welcomed than perhaps a month in the slammer. Severe punishment ALWAYS reduces the incidents of any transgression but no measure of fear, or consequence, is sufficient to insure that the future will be void of that transgression.
The severity of punishment is a function of how much a society will tolerate. In America, where one-half is stealing from the other half, punishment for theft is much less than in other societies and even an occupational sport if the victim is the company for which one works. It is also difficult to curtail episodes of drunken driving and their frequent violent aftermaths, because a very high percentage of Americans are alcoholics to begin with.
We never feared grandfather or father on that account alone. Neither had ever harmed his wife, neighbor, or any child, including their own. We did have an over-riding fear – the fear of what they WOULD DO if we "got out of line" or disobeyed. As children, we witnessed their strength, perseverance, fortitude and above all, their will to do exactly what they said and they never spoke twice about the same matter. That's why we could correctly assume that they WOULD and we soon learned to pay very close attention to what they said, and at all times. Mother and grandmother were of the same cut. If they weren't, they wouldn't have been the wives of those men we loved so much. Mom never had any problem with discipline. She always spoke softly, as did grandmother, and if an issue arose, she would refer it to our father. That, we avoided at all costs and it was the primary reason why mothers spoke with authority before they chose to be became groveling push-overs for juvenile tyrants and excused the little monsters' behavior with utterances of, "They're only children," or, "Isn't that cute?" We feared the consequences of our actions and so thought well and long before engaging in any mischief.
Fear, we are told by the mind-benders, is a terrible thing. It warps our inner selves much in the way Dr. Spock warned about when we anticipated punishment for our little pee-pot who was splattering paint on the walls – his expression of budding 'artistic genius'. If you never anticipate an act, then how could you be fearful of punishment? Only those of criminal mind are concerned with what a punishment might amount to. If auto theft were a capital punishment, I'd not be disturbed one iota.
Dear old dad – the wage-earning slave – no longer has any authority in his family. He plods on, getting an occasionally reward of nooky. A good 'piece' has been the impetus for all sorts of things but today it remains little other than a tool of enslavement via a spineless addiction. Any attempt to maintain order within a family is considered a violation of some imagined "right" and very often leads to a "domestic abuse" charge. If the so-called victim has no bruises to reveal then they can claim "emotional abuse", which is a blanket term encompassing anything which displeases the accuser – causes anguish! Heaven forbid such a revolting thing. The 'family' is no longer a family and woe be to any young man who marries without a very long and serious contemplation of the matter. The fear of what dad might do no longer applies and what used to be called home is now simply a motel with an adjoining dining room and swimming pool. Families are built upon the stiff keel of a man and all the babble about 'family values' only serves to move the gods to weariness.
Police are becoming less influential since their rubber bullets and 'goo' spray rifles do not invoke the fear that a threat of flying lead would do. Apprehended in a 'constitutional' manner, the criminal knows that he will be given set of 'rights' which often leads to no punishment at all. If he lands in prison, he has little fear of real punishment since most punishment has been declared "unusual"and subsequently, "unconstitutional". Instead, he'll have a TV set and earn college credits so he can be discharged as a useful, and productive 'equal' citizen. Ho. Ho. Ho. Ha. Ha. Ha. We're the Lollipop Brigade.
Nowhere has the lack of fear of punishment for one's own adverse actions been more noticeable than in the realm of health and safety. In the past, the thought of swapping juices with a diseased barfly would cause most to reconsider the desirability of satiating the urge from his secondary brain. One was very unlikely to 'tap' that sweet young thing living next door and she would have been very reluctant to part her knees to the first 'hunk' which tickled her primal urges. Why was this true one-half of a century ago only to be replaced by the sex-is-entertainment mentality today? Simple. There is no longer a fear of consequences. From birth control, drugs, abortion, and adoption, we now tolerate this behavior and in many instances, encourage it. No longer are there "shotgun marriages" and stern parents or a stern society to confront. Who cares about being infected with some disease when a miraculous "cure" is right around the corner or easily obtainable by way of a doctor's script?
Responsible behavior always follows the fear of consequences. Remove the consequences and you remove the fear of it and it follows that irresponsibility fills the vacated space. It's all around you – it's all around you, everywhere.
Build those SUVs with armor plate, air bags, ejectable seats, non-locking brakes, RADAR sensors, seat belts, barf-bags, two-way communication, padded this and padded that, and you've just built a contraption with enormous sales appeal to the irresponsible and those scared shotless of their own porous shadows. If, on the other hand, imagine what driving might be like if there were only one sensor on your vehicle. That sensor would control a device which would instantly decapitate the driver if it registered any impact – from any source – over the speed of 30 MPH. There'd be a whole lot of very, very cautious drivers on the road, I believe. When a person is firmly convinced of HIS safety, his disregard for the safety of other people grows proportionally.
A society receives, and becomes, what it tolerates.
The ongoing invasion of this country could be stopped in a day or so, and leniently within a month. Announce that a 'shoot on sight' policy will be in effect within 30 days for all without citizenship papers. This is certainly physically possible but the lack of will precludes it ever being put into practice – at the present time. There is no fear of consequences which is felt by the invaders since all that will happen will be for them to be deported so that they can try it all over again another day.
In the 1930s, it was the rule that looters be shot on sight. Needless to say, not much looting went on at the time and I do not believe that this resulted from a 'more moral' era. Morals are only as good as the enforcement thereof and with that, the fear of consequences.
Where there is no will, there is no way.