Eleven twenty. I’ve managed to absolve myself for a little guilty pleasure I had last night. I’m always on the edge of quitting the church for its condemnation of sin, when to a great extent what constitutes a “sin” is arbitrary. If it doesn’t harm anybody, then people should be free to pursue their happiness. I don’t believe in moral absolutes, these rules imposed by an untouchable lawgiver… but now I’m sounding kind of like my brother. If everyone were a libertine, it would be a chaotic world, a place without laws we agree on. It’s a useful thing to have a conscience… and then it’s a good to take a holiday from it occasionally. According to Shakespeare critics, order is restored after we plunge into mayhem temporarily. I guess it depends on common sense, when you have any.
Years ago I used to get drunk on weekends and watch Dateline NBC on the tube. It would always upset me because this sort of journalism merely pandered to people’s feelings of moral outrage and disgust, which I believe was very irrational and contrary to what I learned in college. In particular it went against the Ethics of Spinoza. He totally de emphasized the sentiments of disgust and anger in human beings, saying that we must keep a level head in matters of justice. I had a friend who disagreed with my pacifism and with Spinoza. My brother’s morality was passionate and vindictive, like watching Oprah boil with resentment. He admitted that my point of view was rational but he didn’t share it. I’ve never been an emotional thinker, which puts me in a lonely minority. I’m cool with that.