The Need to Feel Threatened

I’ve believed that most people don’t steal, they don’t kill, and they don’t rape and pillage because at their core they believe it’s wrong.  But a couple of recent comments have caused me to ponder just how much of our world is held together by force.  I don’t mean forces like gravity or the strong nuclear force, but rather the threat of punishment.

A commenter on the recent post contrasting the 2nd and 14th amendments opined, “the 2nd amendment is there to allow citizens to fight off an oppressive government, whether a foreign one or our own. But the most important reason for it ,is to preserve our God given right of self defense..Without the 2nd amendment…all the other ones can be taken away.”  The underlying theme of his comment seems to be that governments only behave because of the constant palpable threat of insurrection by the people.

In a completely different vein, another person opined regarding atheism that he could never himself be an atheist because he felt there would then be no reason not to just get up every morning and do whatever he felt like.  He feared that without the threat of God’s wrath, he’d become a complete hedonist.

In both these cases, the people are ordinary everyday folks.  These are not borderline criminals or people you would otherwise fear.  Yet they both seem to feel it is only the threat of punishment that keeps their world from falling into chaos.

This is causing me to seriously question whether these two guys are an anomaly or whether they actually represent a far greater portion of the population than I might have expected.  If it is only by force that much of this world is held together, then maybe that explains some things.  Perhaps this is the underlying motivation behind those who would seek to impose rigid rules with draconian punishments on the minutiae of our lives.  Whether those rules are religious, political, or just organizational, they are the rope that binds their own worlds from bursting apart, and they wish to assure that no one else operates outside those constraints.

It’s understandable that if you feel that without being strapped to your seat you’d be running amok in the cabin that you would question the motives and actions of anyone not similarly bound.  It’s not that I thought these people didn’t exist, but rather that they existed at the fringes of society, not in its mainstream.  And I’m now coping with the dawning realization this may be a naive view.

The ease with which looting and rioting break out in otherwise civilized cities is perhaps further indication we are not as evolved as I might have hoped.  Maybe we are really just very large children, constrained only by the watchful gaze of a parent figure.  Yearning to be free of that yoke and run wild through the neighborhood.

If true, a sad reality indeed.

One thought on “The Need to Feel Threatened

  1. Pondering philosophical ethics; an ageless question; Are we only good because we fear punishment from governing bodies or the rath of God? Like many, I too have wondered where our sense of goodness- ethics, knowing right from wrong, comes from. In my own quest to have my questions answered I turned to “Being Good; A Short introduction to ethics” by Simon Blackburn. A VERY good read! I still have questions, most importantly- why are some people NOT good- simple for goodness sake?! Self-preservation is often at the heart of most acts in which people break from socially acceptable ethics. My greatest concern today is those governing and those that which hold great power (read, those with influential power- $$$) have convinced themselves that that which they do is ethical- as long as they are not breaking any written laws- you know, the folks that take advantage of loop holes- and then state that they have not done anything wrong. I like the idea that the Govrn’t needs to be concerned with the uprising of its people-do right by your people-or they my take you out of power. As Americans with a working Constitution, we generally hash things out in a civil manner. Personally, I’d like to see us join together to take on Corp. America. Boycotts do work- $$$ talks (for good or bad).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *