Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The means to an End

On the whole asylum seeker, refugee, prison camp humanity, compassion, situation...

This will be brief, just wanting to lay it down somewhere.

Having read Saul Alinsky's book 'Rules for Radicals' I was struck by two significant ideas:

There is a statement at the beginning of the book before the contents devoted to Lucifer (the Devil)

 "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins—or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer" 
Though the book discusses the topic of 'means and ends' the author does not attempt to moderate the reader's choices in method of achieving their goal.  (A scary thought if you consider what this could result in)

Some people say he must have been a satanist or evil or something. I took the statement as a warning that the methods he is suggesting must be tempered by a person who knows the nature of evil and their own capacity to commit it. He gives freedom to choose and leaves the responsibility for the course of action with the reader. (here it is and, you've been warned)

As I read this book I continually asked myself, what would I be prepared to do, what would I not do? What are the consequences? What would I gain?

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr supplied an answer.

Recently a friend gave me an old copy of 'The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.' It was sitting on my shelf for a couple of months when my wife decided to read it. When she was done, she wanted to read some pages which had resonated with her, out loud so I could get a sense of just how profound a thinker Dr King was.

One line from that reading put into perfect unison a lot of the things I'd been feeling and thinking when confronted with the rationalizations put forward by politicians and armchair experts regarding Australia's bizarre and cruel treatment of asylum seekers. For me it cut to the core of the moral discussion about 'what must be done'.

Here it is:

"Constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is preexistent in the means" 

(Martin Luther King Jr. 'The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr' Edited by Clayborne Carson. p.20)

"... the end is preexistent in the means"

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