A letter of love from the author of Justice

Use this forum to discuss the September 2016 Philosophy Book of the Month, Justice by Scott Hughes.

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A letter of love from the author of Justice

Post by Scott »

The following quote is from the opening paragraph of my book, Justice: A Novella, which is the only fiction book I have written:


Sympathy shines the only light in the dark impassable tunnels constructed between all of us… Sympathy provides not a rescue but a much needed comfort.


In this life, it's often easy to be bitter, angry, hateful, and vengeful. It's as easy as eating a delicious cupcake when on a diet, a no-cupcake diet. It's as easy as a drug relapse is for an addict. It's easy like stealing, lying, and cheating. It’s easy like an athlete using steroids or a dishonest spouse having an affair. But the ease and comfort is at best a prison, if not worse: a walking death.

In the freedom that is self-discipline, we become ourselves, but it is in that becoming of one’s self that we become at all, that we be at all, that we exist at all.

When you are a puppet simply being pulled by the strings of anger, hate, or greed, or the whims of anything or anybody that is not really you, then you are not you, and in a way you are not at all, meaning you lack being and existence itself. What is the opposite of self-actualization if not a walking death of at least borderline nonexistence?

We can say that in such a moment you are like a puppet or a zombie or a shell of your true self. But that doesn’t fully reflect the fact that the zombie version of you is not you; the puppet version of you is not you; the shell of you is not you. So when the zombie is there, you are not. You are not there. You are not you. You are not anything.

This is why when someone is lost in a fit of rage, or down the slippery hole of addiction, we often say things like, "He is not himself right now."

Hamlet asked “to be or not to be,” but the human body needn’t die for the soul to be cast away.

And neither the devil nor our souls need to be literal for us to sell our soul to the devil for the ease and comfort of hell, the prison that is the comfort zone.

Non-existence has an unfortunate allure for many.

Many would choose to be lost to us--and lost to this world--in anger, fear, hate, and addiction.

The freedom that is self-discipline is treated and seen as a burden to many. The burden of existence, some might call it.

Many would choose to go to sleep and leave behind an angry hateful puppet or an addicted zombie or a cowardly shell of a person in their image.

It is here that you might think I would strongly encourage you to free yourself and be brave and loving instead of cowardly and hateful. It is here that you might expect me to wag my judgemental finger at those who seem to lack self-discipline--self-discipline being a term I use interchangeably with spiritual freedom. It’s here that you might expect me to say it’s immoral and evil to cave to anger, or to obediently obey fear, or to eat a cupcake when on a diet. But I don’t believe in such things. I don’t believe that morality or justice or evil exist, if they even can be construed as meaningful concepts rather than merely as excuses to hatefully judge others with self-righteous superiority. I seek to never ever look at another human being and say--even to myself in my own head--I am morally better than you; you are evil; you are bad; you deserve suffering.

Hell isn’t something anyone deserves. It’s simply something many people choose for themselves.

To the best of my human abilities, I seek to choose to be loving and never hateful, to be unconditionally forgiving and never resentful, to be brave and never cowardly, and to not eat cupcakes when I am on a no-cupcake diet. To be clear, I don’t seek to never feel fear or anger, but rather to choose bravery and love. We mustn’t mix up feelings with choices. For instance, bravery isn’t a state of fearlessness but rather of the transcendence of fear, of remaining self-disciplined and free in the face of fear, to not act like a puppet to fear, to not act as a slave to fear, to not blindly make choices based on what fear tells you do. We choose our choices not our feelings. I choose to be brave in the face of fear, and loving in the face of anger or pain.

I don’t seek to never feel anger, pain, or fear, but rather I seek to choose to not blindly obey it, to never cowardly or hatefully cave to it. Feeling fear or anger is not a choice, but our choices emerge in the cowardly obeying of fear versus choosing bravery. Choices emerge in the hateful indulgence in the dictates of our lying anger--or our greedy excessive hunger for that matter, be it a literal hunger to severely overeat literal food or the more figurative hunger that is greed. Needless to say, I seek not to stop my mouth from watering at the sight of a delicious cupcake; I seek not to prevent myself from feeling the feeling of hunger. It is only the choice to eat the cupcake or to not eat the cupcake that I seek to control. It is only my choices that I seek to control. It is in that narrow pocket where I find my omnipotence and by extension our respective omnipotence. I am always 100% in control of my choices, and that is all I directly control. It is there in that sweet narrow pocket of incredible seemingly mystical power that I seek to choose love, bravery, unconditional forgiveness, and the freedom that is self-discipline.

Friends, I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, I still love you. I don’t care what you look like or where you’re from, I still love you. To say I love you simply because you are a human being is partly true but an understatement because even if you slowly morphed into a bunny rabbit or a puppy dog or a hungry lion, I would still love you. If we find ourselves as inhuman creatures on a planet other than Earth in an eon other than this one, I will still love you. This love is completely unconditional, and to me that is freedom. That is my answer to Hamlet’s question: I choose to be me, my true self; I choose to be free; I choose to be.







Image
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
Nick_A
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Re: A letter of love from the author of Justice

Post by Nick_A »

Hi Scott
."Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. It is given to very few minds to notice that things and beings exist. Since my childhood I have not wanted anything else but to receive the complete revelation of this before dying." ~Simone Weil

“Sympathy shines the only light in the dark impassable tunnels constructed between all of us… Sympathy provides not a rescue but a much needed comfort.” Scott
This is one of those necessary topics most avoid since it requires admitting the reality of the human organism and how it functions. Are we capable of choice sufficient to discipline our negative emotions? Plato describes Man as a tripartite soul. The human condition has denied the human psychological balance to be master of ourselves. If we are in opposition with ourselves, how much choice do we have that is not suppression?

First we must be clear as to what negative emotions are. For example sadness may be a negative emotion while the experience of grief is naturally human.

Are we born with negative emotions or are they learned by mimicking what happens with friends, family, and society?

How much of the battle between science and religion we find on Philosophy sites are just examples of attitudes Scott described: I am morally better than you; you are evil; you are bad; you deserve suffering. Intellectually better or morally better argued by those in Plato's cave

Naturally since I believe in the essence of Christianity, I also believe in the beneficial help of grace on the human psych and humanity is lost to the power of negative emotions without it. Simone Weil describes the human situation.
“Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.” Simone Weil
Does practicing conscious attention; freeing the mind from conditioned thoughts, increase the human ability to receive grace and activate objective conscience?

I would say yes but most believe humanity can create the beneficial results of self discipline by practicing choice.

Scott raises many questions all of which are worth pursuing Including how many emotions we value as positive are really negative. I remember reading once where this truly great spiritual teacher was sympathising with all the good had done. She mentioned how much she also does. He remarked that he appreciates all the responsibility she had taken on since he has 82 wives.

She let in a huff but returned the next day and said she didn’t realize that all she was doing was to feel important and not for others. He gave her a warm smile
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
Ecurb
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Re: A letter of love from the author of Justice

Post by Ecurb »

I disagree with the basic premise. It's not easy being bitter, angry and harfeful. It takes a lot of work!

What's easy is being loving and kind. It's natural. Every mammalian mother is loving and kind -- and for us humans the birth of our children fills us with so much natural love and caring as to be almost miraculous.

Of course Scott's notion is standard wisdom. I can't really complain when he makes the same mistake as everyone else. Nonetheless, it's love and caring that are addictive -- like that cupcake. Bitterness and hatred are unnatural, and we must work hard to maintain them.
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LuckyR
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Re: A letter of love from the author of Justice

Post by LuckyR »

Ecurb wrote: August 24th, 2021, 11:38 am I disagree with the basic premise. It's not easy being bitter, angry and harfeful. It takes a lot of work!

What's easy is being loving and kind. It's natural. Every mammalian mother is loving and kind -- and for us humans the birth of our children fills us with so much natural love and caring as to be almost miraculous.

Of course Scott's notion is standard wisdom. I can't really complain when he makes the same mistake as everyone else. Nonetheless, it's love and caring that are addictive -- like that cupcake. Bitterness and hatred are unnatural, and we must work hard to maintain them.
I agree for the majority with normal levels of neurotransmitters. Though the "hard" work to maintain bitterness and hatred is considerably easier depending on the programming caused by certain life experiences.
"As usual... it depends."
gad-fly
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Re: A letter of love from the author of Justice

Post by gad-fly »

Scott wrote: August 23rd, 2021, 10:11 am It's as easy as eating a delicious cupcake when on a diet, a no-cupcake diet. It's as easy as a drug relapse is for an addict. It's easy like stealing, lying, and cheating. It’s easy like an athlete using steroids or a dishonest spouse having an affair. But the ease and comfort is at best a prison, if not worse: a walking death.

Hamlet asked “to be or not to be,”

I seek to choose to be loving and never hateful, to be unconditionally forgiving and never resentful.

Friends, I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, I still love you.

Image


To compare eating cupcake while on diet with stealing and so on, don't you think you are stretching too far, unless the excuse is for argument's sake. Is non-discipline a crime? We are sinners.

Hamlet says: To be or not to be, that is the question. You have quoted him out of context.

"I seek to choose". More concisely, you choose. "unconditionally forgiving?" You are great. You still love me despite . . . Thank you and appreciate. I am flattered, but I do feel not worthy of you love, unless you love yourself less, or unless it like a performer saying to his fans: I love you all (without knowing who you are, and you better believe it).
Nick_A
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Joined: April 19th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Re: A letter of love from the author of Justice

Post by Nick_A »

Sympathy has a negative connotation with me. Rightly or wrongly I associate it with the expression of emotional superiority. This is why I admire Simone's appreciation of conscious attention or the ability to impartially look; to receive the impressions of reality without judgement.
“The capacity to give one's attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have the capacity do not possess it.” ~ Simone Weil
I can be sympathetic but am unable to give my conscious attention; to experience life for what it is without labeling it as good or bad.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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