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Re: Kagin's Column- On Self-Righteousness

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  • prometheus_973
    Hi Kaye, Thamks for posting this. I couldn t help but think of Klemp and some others while reading this. I would say that HK fits the descriptions of being
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 4, 2006
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      Hi Kaye,
      Thamks for posting this. I couldn't help but think of Klemp and some
      others while reading this. I would say that HK fits the descriptions
      of being both self-righteous and a hypocrite!

      Prometheus

      eyesopen wrote:

      Hi everyone!

      I found this article interesting- maybe you will too.

      Have fun,

      Kaye

      KAGIN'S COLUMN
      ON SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

      self-righteous: confident of one's own righteousness, esp. when
      smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of
      others. Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary

      Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she
      wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I
      must try not to do it anymore....And she took snuff too; of course
      that was all right, because she done it herself. Huckleberry Finn

      The self-righteous are everywhere, trying to control our lives. With
      the zeal of reformed nymphomaniacs peddling AmWay, they freely vend
      their negative judgements on the behavior and opinions of others.
      Unable or unwilling to control themselves and their unhappy lives of
      frustration, insecurity, and despair, these petty dictators seek
      solace in desperately attempting to control others. For they are
      right. Those who disagree with their toxic tyranny are clearly and
      obviously wrong, if not evil. And they do attract followers, persons
      easily led, seeking certainty, and willing to praise, to flatter, and
      to sing unto them, How great thou art. Self-righteous leaders reward
      fidelity and elevate select obedient disciples, especially worshipful
      ones who are confused but shamelessly self-righteous, to CULT
      (Counseled Until Learned Truth) status.

      The existence of such personalities is not new. Jesus is reported to
      have said, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's
      eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" There
      are similar references, for self-righteousness is justly and
      frequently condemned in the bible, a work that, for all its many and
      obvious faults, is not without certain merit. Indeed, we recommend
      you read it. The book is much better than the movie.

      Self-righteousness and hypocrisy may be joined, as in the widow's
      views on tobacco reported by Huck. But they are quite different
      concepts. Hypocrites, like the widow, do themselves that which they
      so freely condemn in others. Most hypocrites are self-righteous, but
      self-righteous persons are not necessarily hypocrites and may in fact
      practice what they preach. A priest who rapes little boys, and
      preaches against homosexuality and violence, is clearly both, while a
      practicing virgin, who moralistically urges this unhappy fate on
      others, is not. It's all in how you study it. Many have rejected
      religion largely because it is home to lots of goodie-two-shoes type
      persons of self-righteous or hypocritical persuasion. Sometimes, in
      their attempt to live justly in an unjust world, the disillusioned
      seek solace from religion in the perceived rationality of secular
      humanism. And guess what?

      This may come as a shock to some secular humanist readers, but the
      self-righteous are also to be found among the ranks of the supposedly
      rational, among those who look for meaning apart from the
      supernatural, among those who decry the artificial goodness of the
      godly. Bummer, ain't it? Thus, instead of holier-than-thou, we have
      those who feel rationaler-than-thou, or skepticaler-than-thou, and
      who demean, abjure, reject, and avoid those they feel don't quite
      measure up to their standards. Such are no less self-righteous than
      the widow.

      Whether religious or secular, the self-righteous and the con-artist
      are sisters under the skin. Both become outraged if they don't get
      their way. The slightest reasoned refusal to consent to manipulation
      or control is punished. The uncooperative mark may witness a
      presumably well meaning, but terminally self-righteous, friend go
      into an inexplicable rage, answering disobedience with irrational and
      unpleasant emotions, until the victim seems, as best worded by
      Shakespeare, "beyond reason hated." To further complicate matters,
      the person deluded by self-righteousness cannot understand when
      others are disinclined to share their hostility and fail to concede
      the justness of their attitudes and actions. The world as one
      conspires.

      The self-righteous are troubled by democracy. Why debate or vote on
      any matter of behavior or morality when truth is available by decree,
      and when correct answers may be so readily had from those who know
      the answers beyond any need for question or discussion? To challenge
      such persons is, in their view, malum in se--in the vernacular,
      reprehensible, wicked, and wrong in itself--denoting a defect of
      character revealed in the very act of rebellion against ultimate
      authority. Thereafter, every action or motive of the errant sinner
      will be understood and punished as an indisputably vile thing--
      another example of evil attacking good. The psychological mechanism
      of projection, and the transparent narcissism of the self-righteous,
      is beyond the scope of this digression. The analogies to theology are
      scary. If afflicted leaders possess small power, they are merely
      annoying, comical, or pathetic. If they hold real power over nations
      or ideologies, the graveyards of history harbour their heritage.

      The sad part is that they don't have to be like this. The self-
      righteous prigs can get over it, or get therapy for it. They don't
      have to expose themselves to the misery. Misery is optional, for
      predator as well as prey, even if one thinks they have no free will.
      Rational beings don't have to live with sustained rage, or with the
      chronic paranoia of waiting for some other imaginary shoe to drop.
      Those who live to control others could, using the power of reason
      they mock, come to realize that compromise and resolution of
      disagreements can be something more than capitulation or
      appeasement, and that, in some things at least, they just might be--
      as impossible as it seems--wrong. One is entitled to be smug,
      arrogant, and self-righteous only if one has figured out how not to
      die. The outcast may well be the better person. That's what the
      bible story of the good Samaritan is all about.

      If we can't avoid the self satisfied--the better option--we can laugh
      at them. A healthy person loves to see the pompous taken down a peg
      or two, and delights in mocking their phony goodness and proper ways.
      This is why the common folk laugh when a stuffed shirt slips on a
      banana skin. But what about self-righteous secular humanists who, in
      hardening their hearts and softening their minds, do real harm to
      those who actually favor free inquiry? Maybe we should create a
      Secular Humanist Hall of Shame. Here could be enrolled and
      acknowledged those whose actions have earned them the herein proposed
      SHAME (Secular Humanist Arrogantly Making Enemies) Award.

      As adolescent fantasies are best left to adolescents, so childish
      needs to have one's own way are best left to children, who will
      hopefully outgrow them. Adults should, to borrow again from the
      bible, "put away childish things." It would be sad to die without
      growing up.

      For everything there is a season,
      For every act there is a reason;
      As a garden reflects its seeds,
      Deeds of life tell that life's needs.

      May, 1997

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