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GOODNESS: WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT IS NOT:
ITS SOURCE AND ITS FUNCTION
See: News 19, and Gracious Goodness esp. Chs. 3, 5 and 8
Goodness is NOT the same thing as calling yourself good. Nor is it the same as what men call good, for although goodness has a considerable invariancy among many, there is nevertheless significant mutability.
If we were to follow statistical evidence, this would merely show the SPREAD of what it is deemed to be, not what it is.
If it were assumed that it were purely subjective, then we would equally have to assume that nearly all mankind is mad, incapable of the most juvenile of intellection, of such enormous gullibility that clarity is the exception and confusion the norm. While there is much evidence of such maladies, it is simply not true that man is so witless and foolish as to imagine obligation when none exists, and to do so on a scale in KIND at least next to universal, when there is none; and to imagine, moreover, that the obligation is not at all imposed, but inherent in life, its author, or its nature.
How many exempt all others at all times from condemnation for doing what is deemed unfitting, unkemp or unethical ? Can you name one who has always done so ?
And why is there such a tendency to condemn people, or actions or approaches ?
Is it always and only because some established and universally or tribally recognised pattern is being broken ?
If someone sells you rubbish after much protestation of the goodness of his wares, do you consider the trickery nothing to condemn ? and if you do condemn, why ? Is it because truth is violated ? and justice ? And what does that matter, if laws were the only criterion of right and wrong, except there be political laws against this very thing.
If there are not, do you feel quite sure that that was quite clever, or even to be emulated ? or to be regarded as needing no forgiveness, since nothing rules, and conduct is open except for law ? Or would you say, It is only that business in the long run CANNOT be run on such lines, and this man will surely come to ruin.
Is it then only his probable fate that concerns you, when he has despoiled you, or is it some concept of truth, and justice, and equity and righteousness ? After all, if righteousness is irrelevant, why call it wrong ? And if there be a law against it, why call it wrong and speak with any emotion: it is merely a breach of law, like someone passing you in a single lane, breaking the speed limit to do so, and then dawdling in front of you.
Do you not mind that ? and if you do, is it purely the inconvenience, or do you conceive that he would be unable to do this if no one else kept the law, and that hence he is being ... unfair, selfish, presumptuous ? And if so, what does it matter ? Do you really consider it wrong in itself, or merely a nuisance! Or is the breach of law, if there is one on this point, your whole concern, and your rectitude about law-keeping the motif behind all your thoughts on this issue in such a case!
If someone pretending to be a friend, has access to a joint account, and then vanishes with the funds, is it merely your loss that you lament ? or is it the breach of trust ? And if breach of trust, what makes this good ? Is it that it is a most efficient way of doing business ? And if this is all that it is, do you mourn because someone decided not to be efficient ? Why ? Is efficiency your master key, or a moral concept ? or is the injustice of his taking what you earned and applying it to his inflated pleasure or profit that concerns you ?
In short, mankind condemns for spite, for anger, for ravaging of what is beautiful for passion, for bringing its best to the domain of the worst, whether individually, nationally or universally, as in Greenhouse Emissions. Why are they wrong ? If all die on the planet, is this sad, is that the point ? or is it to be deemed wrong ? If wrong, why so ? Is survival a moral commandment ? If so, who made it!
You have people condemning those who have openly stated morals, for being bigoted, so that absence of bigotry appears to be for them, a virtual commandment! and this is in their moral code. But why ? If there is no law, no basis, no creation, why worry about the oddments of action and the principles people invent ? If principles are all invention, why stop at having more!
On the other hand, since the power to impart principles is itself a work of cognition and thought and communication and concept and ordering, how is this unprincipled ? It has principles of its own, even before we examine the nature of the particular principles which some wish to instal. Communists positively rant and tear people apart, physically or socially or financially or in all, if they provide betrayal or danger to the State! Why ? Is it wrong to do so ? Why ? Is the State a source of morality which must be obeyed ? Why ? Is what happens moral ? How is this so, on such a model as that of materialist Communism ?
Is the survival of the State a moral objective ? In what way!
Millions might think otherwise because of
a) failure of the Communist State to deliver anything anywhere like the 'heaven' in mind,
b) failure to regard individuals with anything like the reality they represent, so making slaves or prisoners by little more than whim,
c) the inflated and corruptive power of the few who rule
d) the difficulty about removing those corrupted from power, since one body controls all, and
e) the fact that there is no
independent judiciary or legislature,
and so on.
How then and why is the State's survival a moral must, and its possible loss in some domain, a certain evil ? If however it is not a moral matter, why blame those who so act ? But if the blame be not moral, but merely an expedient way of getting what they want, why make it appear bad, reprehensible and gross betrayal ? Can you betray what you do not believe ? If the State then to become an objectively MORAL compress, whatever anyone thinks ? Why ? Is some theory about matter to become a mandate for morals! How!
The State must survive! they say. Why ? What moral law sanctions such a view ? If it were imagined to be history, what power has history to direct! It is often appalling in kind through evils all but unimginable. Moreover, how does description constitute command, or what is become what ought to be! on any such model. Yet they CLING to MORALS in their entire conception, when it comes to themselves, having merely smuggled in morals, after denying them altogether, for personal use.
Beyond all that, which is ludicrous enough in its self-contradiction, there is a further related question.
Is it so good that anything in this world must survive, then it embraces the definition of good at the outset. If it is irrelevant to goodness, why bother to help it survive ? or why suggest that it is a good thing to do so. How could it be good if goodness does not exist!
It is one thing to say, THIS IS THE LAW, break it at your peril! And this is said. But this is far from all that is said. It is claimed that there is an obligation which should be FELT, and a duty which should be REALISED, and this is the truth of the matter! Yet if there is no truth, how could it be so!
And if Communism's materialism is pondered, then not only is it in a condition of intellectual suicide, by having the mind first validate the theory, so that the validity of mind is a pre-condition for it logically, but moreover such validity CANNOT consistently be posited, since occurrence is neither logical nor illogical, and preference for the one sort over the other is an immaterialist additive, which spoils the model. Occurrence does not validate occurrence: it merely happens. Validity requires a world-view which has ground for consistency of concept and fulfilment of verification. Telling us what happens, or did happen, or is thought to happen, all three, are alike irrelevant to telling us what ought to happen! Moreover, where absolute truth is missing, the affirmation of such truth is miasma.
Thus even systems of thought make the same mistake! Even in denouncing this or that morality, or as in communism, all of the concept, it is using a STANDARD by which to call it WRONG, and NOT GOOD! That standard IS moral, and this then is merely a logically illicit way of excluding what you do not think good by slippery definition, while you add what you do.
Returning to reality, it is to be realised that goodness is something that mankind in general, accepts. Usually it is not good to kill, except in judgment duly imposed; and this may be made by a nation about to war, also. If that nation, however, does not make some judgment, based in morality, as it normally does, the criterion for war, then it is virtually making the philosophy behind its ideas, the criterion: such as this - that might is right. It plans then to make it 'right' by using might. Those who disagree would then be wrong.
Why ? because they cannot attack the State successfully ? Is this the way it is put ? Scarcely. They are wrong because the State is right, and the State is right because in its majesty and power and perspective, it sees things as they are; and anyway, it wants something. Such is often the case. If the mask of mystery be penetrated however, there is the motive or motif indeed: vengeance or need or lust or licence based on theory, or whatever. The psychology of morals normally enters in, and whether it is just or unjust, equitable or not, it is normally portrayed as having such features. There is implicit or explicit appeal to right. If the idea of might being right is used, so be it: it is still the right to which appeal is made in defence of the use of force.
If however might WERE right, then you have a moral system right there. It runs like this: if there is might, there is also right. Thus rightness becomes a product of power. If you CAN do it, it is right.
Thus you could kill all the babies, like a Herod, and be perfectly 'right' if only you have the power to so so. Few would agree, but would conceive that the cutting off of the potentialities of many youngsters by one other youngster, who by help and education has been enabled to grow older, is the merest misuse of facilities, and breaks the manner of his own building, in order to achieve some sickly objective. There is a sense of injustice, indeed enormity, and few would even attempt to cavil at condemnation of such action.
The party line however might be this. If the case was simply that the King thought it might endanger his royal ambitions or family if he did not kill babies in large numbers, then of course he OUGHT to do such things. The humanity line would be: of course he ought not to indulge the facility of rule for the agility of seeking more personal power, since this prostitutes his function.
Who and how many would argue for a proposition without rational defence ?
Even if it be said, that of course he ought to TRY to do such things if he wants to, you still have morality. He should fulfil himself because he wants to do so, and so should every one else, and if he happens to have power as king, the case does not change. It would be right for him to kill all but himself, and even leave the globe unpopulated, the line might be put, since as king he might have grabbed enough power to do so. Hence, having the might, he is by definition, right.
What definition ? that of a phrase. What is the basis of the phrase ? it is the concept that morality does not exist, but power; and that morality enters as a derivative of power. However the application of this 'morality' could remove all from the earth if anyone, king or other, had enough atomic power. This would then be right ?
Right for whom ? and why would the one who, perhaps by theft, gained the power, be right so to use it ? In what sense is this so, if power is deemed the same as performance, and desire the same as right ? If all desire is right, then thousands of desires being contradictory, are mutually exclusive and so cannot rationally be right. Furthermore, the very nature of the phrase itself is merely a dismissal of evaluation in terms of power to perform. The difference is that, in so dismissing evaluation, it is also enforcing an evaluation by prescription, becomes one more of the ludicrous antilogies present in such a proposition.
Indeed, how could you prescribe what is right in terms of materialistic-occurrence ideas! Description is the basis; it cannot by any means rise to prescription: the basis makes that irrelevant and absurd. It is pure invention. However it is invention which simply again attests the fact that man insists on right, even when he seeks to know no wrong!
What then of this model ? He has the power and prevails to show it ? In that case, he OUGHT to be approved in doing it, and so we have a psychic morality plus power, so that if you want to and can, it is RIGHT and GOOD to do it.
Some might equivocate. They might
urge: It may be right, but not good.
Let us examine this proposition. If then, only because of an INVISIBLE and IMMATERIAL and IMAGINED LAW, which some critic among men has in mind, a thing is RIGHT, and this is not based on anything political or legal in the humanly imposed sense, what is meant ? It is meant that nothing immoral can be implied or posited of it. If so, how would it be good, since goodness is the core of morality!
To be right does have a slant towards law, that a thing is not wrong, to be marked down because the impact of correctness is negative upon it; and to be good does have a feeling of the intrinsic, as if it is the very quality of the thing which is in mind: but both appeal to a moral quality, whatever the trend of thought. Both imply standards, however, whether illusory or vacuous, pretentious or humble, attributed to this or to that.
Morals are ALWAYS invoked by man; the main differentiation being this: that some acknowledge their morals, and some don't.
Let us now imagine someone without any morals, implicit or explicit, whose denial of them is real and sincere and true. Thus we could say that he deems it right to have this viewpoint. It may be said that this merely exhibits a certain consistency between what he says and thinks. Why however should such a consistency be deemed good in such a materialist model ? It would simply be a consistency, full stop. Someone else with inconsistency would be inconsistent. Both would be events.
Ah! but someone says, some events are inconvenient.
Inconvenient, however, to whom and for what ?
Convenience is a relative concept. If it is WRONG to be inconvenient to me, or my house, city, nation or to the world in its latest modelling of its own rule, then how could this be so ? It could be so only if convenience were right, had a moral nature and SHOULD be imposed. Otherwise, you would be left with the saying, This is inconvenient, but perfectly all right, and you can do it as much as you can, if only you can get away with it. I shall try to stop you, and since might is right, if I win, I am right, and if I lose, I am wrong.
This is more consistent, but it never escapes morality. It is now being affirmed that if the power is enough, and the wit, and the circumstances are such as to help enough for victory, then ipso facto the thing is right. Thus, it would be wrong for anyone to say that even though it succeeded physically, and now rules the roost, that it is wrong.
In this way, we have a standard that is just as much an application of implicit but actual law as anything else. To condemn is to erect morals, whether these be deemed subjective, objective, temporary, unimportant or dependent on outcomes. The end has right or wrong, good or bad. If it is wrong ever even to use such terms, then the morality is that it is immoral to speak of morality; and this too is a moral system.
Suppose now it be said, I will attempt to obliterate you if you call what I do wrong, and this is not because you are wrong, but because I do not like it: I do not want to be called wrong. It offends my susceptibilities.
First, what susceptibilities ? Is it intellectual or moral ? If intellectual, there is no base; and if moral, there is the morality.
Secondly, even if the offended susceptibilities be omitted, we could ask why there would be the obliterative attempt. If it be said, it offends me to have this whole thing of morality brought up relative to myself, then one might ask why this was so.
If it is
because the man is mad, the case is not relevant, as we are investigating what
man is, not what disease may make of him. If he is sane, then the offence must
have some basis. If it is because bringing up morality concerning him is an
incorrect way to estimate him, then he has the morality of correctness and
incorrectness, relative to behaviour, and this is morality. If it be said,
I just don't feel right when you say such things, then there is a rightness of feeling. Even if it be said that the feeling is purely subjective, it is still there; and if it be added that the feeling may be perfectly ludicrous and inane, then we have rejected reason and living in the pallid places of irrationality, are already only partly human.
Man's rationality is one of his chief features. Does this mean that everyone who insists on being irrational in principle is mad ? Not at all, only if he succeeds! But he is nevertheless, at least in motivation, seeking to be less than human. If it be put that what is human is precisely what is under review, then the answer is that reviewing reason out of man could only be chimerical, since man consistently, persistently, insistently and endemically argues, even for nonsensical positions, and that a new type of being might be thought of indeed; but it would not be man. Indeed, in this imaginary discussion, it is reason that it being at this very time, used as a criterion. Trying to make it irrelevant in order to argue, is mere antilogy, and indeed, antinomy is creeping in as well, for the laws of reason are being on the one hand affirmed, and on the other denied, so that contrary systems of thought, with contrary laws are being invented.
How hard it is to escape, and how much is lost when it is even attempted. This has a reason, also.
Morals are always present, licit or illicit, functional or dysfunctional, with the condemnation of those of others implicit or explicit.
Not only so: the concept of goodness is to be found in virtually everyone: some may say that all men are liars, with one exception, without which the statement would be vacuous. If asked why this is said, presumably the canons of truth would be reviewed and multiplied instances of failure to honour them. Of course, it might be put that this was a purely subjective statement: if so, however, what would it mean. The term 'liars' would then be too fluid to denote.
People expect others NOT to lie, and if to lie, at least not to lie when good has been done to them, and even if they lie when good has been done to them, in this way returning evil for good, they ought not to harm those to whom they lie. How much more would it be put that it is wrong to have someone give his life for you to deliver you, who succeeds in this, and then to lie about that person and to ruin his reputation by mere malice, contrary to fact. Even if someone suggests that this is perfectly good, then we can ask what then is his criterion of goodness. If he says, Doing whatever you please, this is good! we might pursue the interrogation.
Why is it 'good' and not merely a happening, then ? If it be said that it is 'good' because this is the way things ought to be, then there is the morality. If on the other hand, it be said that this merely means that this proposition is acceptable to the one reviewing the behaviour in question, why not say that it is acceptable ? Why use the term 'good' ? The reason of course is that this term ADDS something. That something is a criterion of morality. Its denial is being used as a case of its affirmation. It is a futile harassment to seek to escape morality: it refuses to go in argument, in politics and in person.
What it is that it adds when 'good' is affirmed may differ in many theories; but it is a fact that it does so add. If you call someone good it is NOT meant that you consider he is successfully doing what he likes, whatever it may be. This might be called 'success', in a psychically narrow way, but to use the term 'goodness' of it is merely misleading. It would indicate that there was more than power, but a warrant for approval, at least felt by you. If you claim that the only warrant which you had in mind was one which felt it good that a man got what he wanted, then there is the morality. There is the standard for assessment, there is the approval rating criterion: he got what he wanted.
Thus the term is never deletable; it is merely variable.
Accordingly, Good for nothing is a phrase which signifies that no fitting use might be found for it. What is fitting ? It must serve some useful purpose.
Useful ? but to whom. If it be for the person in question, how is this even relevant ? He could state that he can see no way the person could serve him, but saying he is good for nothing as a caption, is going further. It is to affirm that there is nothing he could do which would be ... good.
Is it the same as saying he is impotent in every regard, outside remaining alive, and this being so, there is nothing at all good he can do, as his life is worthless. But what is worthy ? There is the concept of morality, of goodness. There is the explicit point of skill and the implicit point of life value, which institutes a valuation and hence a morality, whatever may be the point or force of it, the perspective or the ground for acclaim or disclaimer.
Further, if it be put that there 'goodness' is merely instrumental, in terms of being able to do this or that, then the question arises, firstly, whether it may be done well or otherwise. If it is not conceded that this is so, then a complete failure in the performance of the appointed task is also good, which is a contradiction in terms. If it is conceded that it is so, then it is implied that to do it 'well' is better than not doing so. There is morality.
Moreover, if it be said that the job has been skilfully done, in a report by a foreman to the manager, who replies, 'Good!', there is the implication in train that whatever the Manager means for his empire or company, this has been in accord with it, forwards in and is in place in his perspective. What however ARE his plans, what his commercial or imperial desire and design ? This it is then, which in its place, is being affirmed, this confluence and design and result being cordially accepted for this reason. Thus the skill is good, the result is good and the participation in program is all good.
Consider however once more the good for nothing appellation, the opposite case.
If it be put that the thing is empirical, even technical only, and all that is in mind is the power of someone to do anything which will serve anyone else in anything, then this would imply that the man had no use of arm or leg, for example, or brain. Thus he would be dead. If however it meant that because of his will, and abilities, in tandem, he in fact DID nothing of value to anyone else, then the VALUE which other people have, or their values, are the morality. If it be urged, however, that their values may be purely instrumental, as if this man could dig a ditch for them or not, then they are still designating him 'good for nothing' because not even this could he do. It is therefore the case, in this instance, that being able to serve someone else is good. If you cannot, you are good for nothing. Goodness implies at least facility in purposeful and appointed service. This is a good thing and it is good to be like that.
Again, if it be good to do well in an appointed task, yet then we must ask, Is it well to do such a task as this, well or not ? If the answer is this: It is good because the one paying wants it so, does the capacity to pay then make it good ? This is power to pay, and in no way characterises the action. What then is the good of the action, or otherwise, done well or not ?
What then ? If it is to fulfil a purpose of the payor, is this purpose good or not ? If it does not matter in terms of goodness, then the term has no meaning. It is being used as a substitute for purpose-fulfilling, and exempted from the purpose itself. Attempts to denature 'good' in this way, as in 'efficiency' and so forth, merely equate it with what in other circumstances cannot be deemed good (as in Nazi gas chambers, most efficient) except by those who hate the victims, for example. In that case, it might be termed 'good' because it accords with their moral values: for no other reason. The moral values of the assessor would then determine the availability of the term ‘good’ in characterising the action. Morality is inescapable.
Some expect more, some less, but all expect and evaluate, not merely a relationship between plan and result, but the significance of this relationship. No one can be good who can do nothing good, for this would be a mere name. Yet if someone COULD do good and did not choose to do so, that person is criticised as soon as a failure to be of service leaves others labouring for him or her, while love's labour is lost, and nothing helpful is done in return. It may be said that a person could be good if never doing anything helpful in any way to anyone else; but then we would be entitled to ask for the definition of the term.
If it be said that goodness is compatible with uselessness in all respects, then we ask what it is to which reference then is being made. If it be replied that the term is being used merely to mean that the person is a person, then we ask, Why then do you use an adjective to characterise ? You are merely confusing the issue, using descriptive terminology to equal vacuity, so inducing terminological confusion, and abuse. While it is for you to choose such an option, it is not meaningful, and semantically it is mere voiding, futile, vacuous.
Vacuity not being our aim, but the meaning of goodness, then we are ready to affirm that goodness is a concept not equatable with nothing, or with uselessness in all respects, but has implicit in it a capacity to accomplish certain things.
If it be said that the things are merely to keep alive, then again, we ask, In what way is this more than to say that to be a person is to be a person ? unless it also means that it is good to stay alive! If the latter, then there is the morality: one ought to stay alive, or if one does, one is being good.
While this is very limited, it is still very much morality.
In fact, goodness normally means at least concern from the heart for the welfare of some or all others, and an attitude which is supportive to life, as distinct from evil, which tends to imply destruction, hatred or indifference, uselessness with ill-will and such things.
It tends in general usage to imply a sense of what will most benefit things which in themselves are worthy of support, or need it, which are more able by such help to function aptly, and which, when so functioning are not going to despoil or despise life, so making a net negative.
Of course, a medical team may try hard to save the life of an appalling dictator, and call it good to have done so, being motivated by the moral that skilled doctors must help save life, while leaving to others what the life concerned does with itself. In that case, however, while the technical work of the doctors might be termed good because it fulfilled a stated purpose of maximising life, yet the debit side of the future murders committed by the healed dictator would in the same moral venue, that of securing life, be the negative. A net negative would then be bad.
If it be said that this is not the way morals are estimated, and that we do not count the good and bad deeds relative to anyone, in terms of doing genuine good to that person, there is yet a distinction.
Thus it could be deemed good to be helpful to life, but not if the life is at that very moment perpetrating murder, which without medical help, would have failed. Thus it is not simply a question of saving life, but of saving what is designed from being ruined, while the nether part of goodness, badness, comes into force when the life so saved moves to murder; and it comes in at once if at the time of the attempted goodness of saving it, it is murdering. In that case, the help would be to enable the murder, so that this would not be given, unless the medical people were murderers, accomplices at that very moment of their action.
Thus welfare and life are important in the concept of goodness, and abuse of life is in general deemed bad. If however there be war, then it might be said to be good to extinguish the enemy. Yet this would at once be estimated as to whether it was a self-serving governmental talk, as from a drug addict, these being war addicts, or a fact: this goodness of the war. If it meant more land from a peaceable neighbour with no history of war, then there would be a strong urge or surge to disagree. In what way would it be good to grab this land from our peaceable neighbour ? some might ask.
If the answer was that there was demonstrable proof that an atomic attack was looming, in principle this would be self-defence, and protection from murder and would in the life principle be deemed good. If however, it was a mere land grab, then while some might call it wise, or expedient, or necessary, to call it good would require us to consider the might is right idea, and this leads to the morality of might, which as seen earlier, is simple one moral system which some choose in considering what is good.
In general, what is selfishly advantageous and does not enhance life, impart truth or agree with justice, to the extent these things are realised, is not normally, IN THE END, called 'good'. The term evil has its natural parlance there.
Thus we have moved to an estimate of what is the norm for 'goodness' and find a strong trend towards the valuation of life, and its functions, and a devaluation of the abortion, distortion, contortion of such things, especially where this is merely to satisfy the caprice, whim or fancy of someone in power. In fact, the trend would be to say that might is very far from right, and that the mixture of ability with righteousness is simple abuse of terms. It is a grab of goodness, a kidnapping of 'right', and a meaningless exercise in semantic witlessness.
If it be argued that goodness is merely the name for what someone or other is calling 'good', then what is its value ? Why not say, I think this.
It is in fact called good because it is deemed to satisfy certain standards, either explicit or implicit, or implicitly appealed to, so enabling approval.
Moreover, we ask why then people fight wars about the right and wrong conception, as in the Inquisition and the Islamic menace to Europe of former times! Why bother about a meaningless name, adding nothing, and why on earth fight about it! Is it so empty that it deserves death to achieve it! The idea of the maniacal is relevant; but not in general. We are discussing humans where thought is not entirely prohibited, as shown above.
The term 'goodness', then, has a strong attachment. It is not a casual one. It is clear that goodness means nothing less than what is in fact the highest state of life, the most accomplished and that with the most multi-faceted outreach on all sides towards long-term fulfilment of all that it has. What this is deemed to be is a separate question.
What however if it be said that it has the devil and viciousness in some of it ? In that case, these being destructive in a narrow sense, and making the centre of the universe what is a mere element in it, are called evil because untrue. Is then truth the same as goodness ? Not at all. It is felt WRONG to be untrue; though some seek to excuse some lies. Normally, such excuse is made with great care and in an endeavour to rescue some performance from condemnation, which has elements greater than these.
The very efforts so made, however, only the more attest what is the importance of truth.
In fact, if truth be ignored, reality will chasten and perhaps kill. Dreams and reality mix but ill.
Is then goodness an awareness of truth and a design not to depart from it ? It is clear that few would condemn as evil, or fail to pronounce as good so far, such an attitude, since its absence is a virtual synonym for suicide.
In that case, is death an evil ? Not for all, in a merely event sense. The ground of its occurrence is another matter (cf. Beyond the Curse). .
Some, but not many, seek it. It is normal however, if death be sought, to indicate the wickedness, uselessness or evil of life, bypassing certain elements, as if to indicate that it is good to seek death when life is ruined, or ruinous.
Life comes at all times into the focus. Many call evil the ideas of making the best of life, as seen by others, whether or not they have made for themselves gods of a religious character, to speak for their view. Yet the competitive plans will rarely demean life in such a way that it is thought good to dump it in the pit. More often and normatively, there are prescriptions for the 'real meaning' or 'best use' or 'most noble advance' in life, and those who buy, sell out for it. Even some who advise suicide en bloc, are often found careful to make some planet or other, some scenario, for its continuance.
PLAN and LIFE and PROGRAM all then are components at some level in goodness. Even if the program IN life is detested, still the thing called good will seek normatively to find how best to use it for some purpose or other. The purpose is to seek to fulfil some concept with life, as it is or even as it is falsely deemed to be. The concept may be to escape to Mars, or to remove oneself from contamination by suicide, but the implicit end is what is thought to fulfil it best, removing it from evil.
Even mafia agents might deem it good to remove funds from those who do not need them, and to corrupt what oppresses them, and so cling to their own lives more successfully, since they differentially value their own lives, and think it right to make them go higher in money, power and prestige, or at least in dignity of some kind.
This is merely to segmentalise goodness. It is what is going to life, to some life or other, to fulfil it, make it work. Hideous may be the irrational emphases, but they are yet made.
Life is given. What is to be done with it ? Goodness normally values it and brings more scope or point or hope or help to it.
This having been said, we find merely the ineradicability of goodness from human affairs. This is merely one testimony to its being inherent, and so verifies the creation. The very stress on finding and possibly agreeing on what is GOOD, and what GOODNESS IS, attests that this is not an endeavour to secure a mere result, but to meet a demanding standard.
Since man in general, and as born since the Fall, does not know God, it is natural and necessary that such uncertainty should arise, just as it is if you find no steering wheel in a car, while travelling at 60 miles per hour. The various means of acting may be subject to much theory; but one cannot help noticing that a steering wheel would seem a natural accessory to a designed movement unit.
Otherwise you could not go where you wished, so that it would be motion contrivance, not transport.
All these things, the endeavours to FIND goodness, to KNOW what it is, to IMPRESS your idea on others, and even to RULE by means of it, show that it is far removed from mere conformism gone mad. What life is about and for and how to use it, these remain fundamental issues to the term.
Conformity to this or that, legal, cultural, directive, is simply that. The things to which to conform vary so hideously and virtually infinitely, that any endeavour to fuse and confuse their performance with goodness is to divorce humanity from itself. It does not hesitate to rebel or resist, endue or endorse, struggle for centuries in rebellion, or acquiesce for plausible but insincere, or implausible but sincere reasons. If at times conformism to some culture helps national power, then as in Japan, the eclipse of that power at last reveals the obvious: confusion of power with goodness is inexcusable, a type of blindness which, given historical change, cannot last.
There is however a government, that of the kingdom of heaven, which never changes, and always has power, which has goodness in specifiable and immutable senses which strike chords in a massive swath of human hearts, involving kindness, courtesy, thoughtfulness, moral vigour, religious orientation, worship of God, love of one's neighbour, unyielding nobility of character and sincerity of heart, incorruptibility by merely superficial aims, and lack of that pride which confuses the aims with the attainment, on the one hand, and that laxity, which confuses deeds with mere words on the other.
Like a series of flashes as crucial points are hit by an electric current, so does this hit here one, here another of the human focal points, so often found. It explains them, satisfies them and surrounds them; and if some prefer hatred, yet this is neither physically and medically attractive, nor legitimised. It is sin which is hated, erraticism which is undesired, and contravention of truth and the very nature of life, which is disesteemed.
Not only, then, does this meet the direction that seems most persistent in concepts of goodness, and cover a mass of individual items, when the whole is explored, in the residues which many a conscience still retains, but it explains WHY there IS such a direction at all.
When God is found, then it is all simple, for then the steering wheel is found; the objective is seen; the procedures are explicit, and though much room is left for driving technique, you learn the meaning of the directions on the moral and spiritual compass and instead of deploying your wits to find the heart of life when it varies in its content, you use them to apply the wisdom of God to its usage. You move from examining cars and drivers to the manual of the manufacturer, from pathologies as examples to the anthology of creation as criterion. You even move from the work of creation to the Creator, and then in the Creator to the word of the Creator in order to understand His work.
On the other hand, the void left when God is not in view is fundamental: it has two basic features moreover. On the one hand, men seek it and deem it vital and even fight for it or against something parallel in conception; and on the other, when it is found in a way which satisfies all the criteria of knowledge (cf. Ch. 1 above), and explains the desires of the heart, so that what man should and could be doing is differentiated categorically from what he should not or cannot, so removing useless endeavours and enriching wise ones: then there is an empirical fit.
If a steering wheel were ten metres high, and projected through the roof of the car, it not only would cause rain to be likely to come in, spoiling health or comfort or both, but it would probably be unmanageable, or so difficult as to cause accidents. It would not FIT. Thus when God in the Bible indicates the simplicity of salvation, it does fit; for in the whorls and whirls of desire and conflict, man is reduced to the need to find the reality even beyond, but not divergent from rationale, in the God of the Bible to which alone reason directs (cf. The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy).
The lack of need to WORK for the knowledge of God, also propounded in the Bible (Ephesians 2), or to perform for His acceptance, similarly removes any excuse of weakness, or intellectual disability. As to the follies of many geniuses in the history of mankind in this very area, those who become as a curse to life, this simply shows that intellectual capacity in itself can mislead, like any other gift. The fact that this can be shown does not alter the equally decisive fact that you need the will to receive, even the truth. Intellectual or other capacity is not the criterion. Reception of a gift is the criterion. If the heart be found by God to have that ultimate and foreknown preference for darkness, then liberty, that pre-condition of love, is not misused to make force a fraudulent means of securing salvation. Man is not of that mode (as in Luke 19:42ff.).
The reality and force of this proposition is seen in many divorce cases, where feeling overshadows fact, and ill-will divorces from truth as well.
There is only one possible answer to the inherence, however shattered, of at least some form or affinity for goodness in man, as a concept, ideal or directive, just as independently, there is no way to avoid the logical necessity of God. The two combine: what is shown sure on the latter point, is what answers the question in the former. The one necessity is verified in the other implication and finding.
The presence of the absentee is the way to find what is good, and His absence is the reason for the dynamic of argument, and the follies of misuse of man.
The mutuality of the verification is merely natural in a situation where ALL systems and areas of thought are at one, both with one another and with the ultimate truth. This is shown in each major field in the two volume work, Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ, Who Answers Riddles and where He is, Darkness Departs.
One of the particularities found in such a coverage, here relate to the objectivity of conscience IN PRINCIPLE, and its subjectivity in pathology, endemic outside the knowledge of God. It is shown in the TREND for all morality to have certain common elements, as in the other trend for these to be differently 'interpreted'. This is in accord with the fact that in order to rebel from God, you need points of divergence, if sane. If you have them, as if you neglected to put one tyre on your car, because you felt rebellious against the manufacturer, then results MUST come. They do.
As different people abort at different levels, so they may distort in different ways.
Both the trend to have morality, and to universalise it to a significant extent, and to diversify it and fight about it even to gore, are in consort with the fact that GOD is the One most important to life that there is; that HE has a will and design; that departure from this does not annul our birth-right and moral facet, but neither does it allow it to function freely.
In all things, the truth is like a father to many children. They all gather around with peaceable agreement, only when his voice is obeyed.
It is precisely as in Proverbs 8:22-36. Here wisdom, which answers all these things, the very word of God (cf. Proverbs 8) is speaking.
"The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was poured out from everlasting, from the beginning,
before ever the earth was.
"When there were no depths, I was brought forth;
when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
before the hills was I brought forth:
while as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields,
nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
"When He prepared the heavens, I was there:
when He set a compass upon the face of the depth.
When He established the clouds above.
when He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters
should not pass His commandment,
when He appointed the foundations of the earth:
“Then I was by him, as one brought up with Him:
and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before him,
rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth;
and my delights were with the sons of men.
"Now therefore give heed to me, O you children:
for blessed are they that keep My ways. Hear instruction,
and be wise, and do not refuse it.
Blessed is the man who hears Me, watching daily at My gates,
waiting at the posts of My doors.
"For whoever finds Me finds life,
and shall obtain favour from the LORD.
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul:
all those who hate me love death."
Wisdom which not only knows what is obvious (cf. SMR Ch. 1), what blares in our faces (Romans 1:17ff.), but provides what God has given for its complete work in our lives, is what Christ is sent, not least, to be (I Corinthians 1:30). Where man has failed, God has prevailed; where man lacks, God abounds (cf. Romans 5:1ff., 8:1ff.).
Whoever from the grace and mercy of God, as God Himself has revealed it - for none can tele-psychiatrise Him - finds God, finds what He has made most apt to be found. It finds what He has not kept secret but magnificently presented to this earth these several millenia (cf. Isaiah 45:19ff., 48:16ff., Amos 3:7, SMR Appendix C and D, with TMR Ch. 3). Thus, through the way He, the Creator, has provided, there is to be found the component of understanding, missing when sin rules, rebellion suffices the straying soul and loneliness from truth blows like a head-wind on the perverse.
It is not a mere addition, however, but requires reconstitution, regeneration indeed (Titus 3:3-5, John 3), for its securing to the soul. Soemthing better than panel-beating precedes the new engine. The work of God in redemption, regeneration and the provision of wisdom and understanding: It is not distant but very near. It is not exclusivistic, but inclusivistic, for the Son of Man is He who, the very wisdom of God, became man, that man might not merely FIND his way, but FOLLOW it (cf. I Corinthians 1:30).
Thus was His declaration in Matthew 28:19-20:
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."