Archive for Hitler

Nice Guy? Doubt it.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I’m going to break character for a moment. I pride myself in only allowing person information out if the need arises. Rarely do I make anything personal on this blog, with the only exception I can think of being The Importance of Family.

But recently, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are all starting to tell me the same thing over and over again, and I am addressing it here.

I feel that I have the uncanny ability to read people, and to know when they’re being real or fake. A lot of times, I don’t get along with people simply because of a personality issue: there is something about this person that grates against my personality, and we might not get along for a while. Sometimes it happens right away, other times it happens after I get to know someone. But when it happens, it’s hard for me to look around that.

But it seems like whenever I talk to other people about this person that I’m suddenly grating against, I hear the same thing: “Relax. He’s a nice guy.”

The problem I have with this statement is that it assumes that I don’t already know this, and by telling me so it’s going to change my mind. I know someone who is annoying, mouthy, and rude. He doesn’t listen to anything I say, and is a completely different person to everyone he meets. He is a completely fake person, and he absolutely gets under my skin every time I–

Wait…. he’s a nice guy? Well then, that certainly cancels out his personality traits. I suddenly have no problem with him.

I generally don’t describe people as “evil,” and if I do, it is usually in jest. The fact that he’s a “nice guy” does nothing for the stuff he can control but chooses not to: his interactions with people he disagrees with, being able to stay cordial and professional to everyone, and the ability to put animosities aside and make eye contact for a split second in the hallway.

Telling me that a person I’m not too keen on is a “nice guy” doesn’t tell me anything. I hate to invoke Godwin’s Law, but: Do you know who else was a nice guy? Hitler.

Hitler was a nice guy in the 1930s, trying to help the country of Germany out of economic ruin. He was a nice guy because he was trying to find a solution to the problem, and for him, the solution to the problem, I guess, was to exterminate millions of people.

This is not to say that the people I’m not fond of are going to commit genocide. I’m just saying that everyone in the world has at some point been described as “nice”: Hitler, Glenn Beck, Obama, Jeffery Dahmer, myself, and you.

I don’t suddenly dislike people on a whim. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Who is it that I haven’t had beef with in a while? I think I’ll take out this pent up anger and frustration on them.” When I have a problem with someone, when our personalities grate against each other, it has a reason.

Maybe I saw someone I once respected kick an old lady’s walker away from her. Maybe I saw a person greet me with a warm embrace, but completely ignored someone who came to them for help. Or maybe it’s simply because I really got to know this person, and suddenly realized that a very blatant flaw in their personality is in conflict with mine. A lot of times, I have no idea why this person is suddenly no longer friendly. The fact remains: our personalities are grating against each other, and in order for me to remain a positive person, I have to remove them from my life.

So next time I mention something about a person I don’t agree with, don’t tell me they’re a nice guy. I know that. Instead, just nod your head and smile as I go on a mini-tirade. Or better yet, just change the subject. You do that anyway with TV shows you’re not interested in watching.

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Morality is Subjective

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

When someone says that a person really “sticks with their morals,” it’s usually a good thing. It means that the person is able to stay on the straight and narrow, never faulting from their beliefs, and is a great example to emulate. But what exactly is “morality,” and how do we define our morals?

Dictionary.com defines “morals” as “principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct” (definition 11, under noun). That’s fine and dandy; we can appreciate someone who knows right from wrong, and continues to choose right over wrong at any point in time.

But what is “right” and what is “wrong”? Is there a universal definition for those terms in every scenario? The answer is unfortunately and resoundingly “no.”

There is a reason there are so many moral dilemma scenarios out there. It’s a great experiment into how flimsy morals are. I love playing them, because I love seeing how people who strictly believe that murder is wrong sweat over a scenario like the following:

You are a switchboard manager of a train station. There is a train that has lost control and is moving down the tracks at an amazingly fast speed. On the tracks ahead are 5 people who will be killed without a doubt if nothing is done. There is a switch that you have control over that will send the train on a sideline. On this sideline also without a doubt 1 person will be killed. The choice is yours what do you do? Do you save the 5 people, by killing the 1 person? Or do you use the switch and have the 1 person standing on the other sideline track killed?

What would you do? Many would immediately say to throw the switch, because losing one life is less costly than losing five lives. That’s a very noble answer.

But then comes the morality of the question: by flipping the switch, you have committed murder. You have intentionally used an object (here being a train) to end a human life. However, if you let the train go and kill the other five on the track, there was nothing you can do, it was beyond your control, and you can wash your hands of it all.

But suddenly, a new layer comes: is it better to live with the guilt of killing one person, or the guilt of knowing you could have saved five lives? Obviously having the burden of five innocent lives on your heart would be terrible, and it would be easier to know that the one life you ended allowed five more people to live.

Then there is another one of my favorites: You manage to go back in time and you are in a room with a 3-year-old Adolph Hitler. You have a gun in your hand and are fully aware of what happens during WWII, but at this point, the baby is innocent. Do you kill little Hitler, or do you let him live?

The immediate response is to kill Hitler. He’s Hitler, you know what he does, and you save over 6 million lives. However, at this point, the kid is innocent. He’s three years old, and hasn’t done anything. If anyone found out that you killed a young, defenseless child, you would be ostracized and exiled. (Click here for more excellent moral dilemmas.)

The point is, morality is subjective. We can see it across cultures, and even looking back through history. Today, it is immoral to have sex with young children, yet in places like Mexico and the Philipines, the age of consent is as low as 12 years old, and in ancient Grecian times, it was not uncommon to masters of trades to have relations with their younger, male apprentices.

Today, it is immoral for a man to hit a woman, yet not more than 50 years ago, it was encouraged to occasionally smack a woman to let her know that what she was doing is unfavorable.

Even in cases that don’t really matter much, such as swearing, people have completely different views. Some such as myself, have no problem dropping the occasionaly curse word, because it is part of this culture’s lexicon; but I also know others who have never dropped a curse word in their lives, and will backpedal like crazy if they’re caught doing something so “morally wrong.”

The purpose of morals is to make sure we differentiate right from wrong, but there are so many definitions of both that it’s impossible for everyone to be on the same page. Where some people feel that sex before marriage is immoral, others have no problem with it.

Probably the biggest issue of this all, though, comes from people who claim to be part of the “moral majority,” speaking out against the sins of the world, and eventually are caught in the act of those sins they were speaking out against. Most recently that person was Republican Senator Roy Ashburn, who was arrested for DUI after leaving a gay nightclub. Senator Ashburn later came out to a radio host, saying, “Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.”

I’m not condoning either side of any of the issues laid out in this blog. In fact, I’m all about having people voice their own opinions on issues laid out in this blog, as well as the many, many issues that crop up every day. All I’m saying is that if we’re going to praise someone for sticking to their morals, we better know what those morals are.