Sunday, October 3, 2010

Negative Prejudgment vs. The Trouble of a Moral Overload

If love is blind, then maybe a blind person that loves has a greater understanding of it.

Oftentimes a deviation from man's typical cognitive shortcuts will either look incredibly foolish or incredibly intelligent or, sometimes, both simultaneously. To a degree, it also appears to be a sort of raw knowledge - developing on a strong foundation what one can from square one. Here is a quick reference, a neuroscientific peek into the strikingly superior minds of infants, which provides a solid metaphor for this type of reasoning: Inside the Baby Mind. Not to wander, but watching babies is quite a sight. It is reflective of one's relationship with God: They run around getting into everything and will sometimes pick up something that could harm them (such as a sharp object); they are completely unconscious of how it could harm them, so daddy has to come and snatch it away for the baby's own protection. What is my point here? Raw knowledge, grounded on faith, is a great strength when avoiding fearful, negative prejudgment.

Maybe this is an obscure subject, but negative prejudgment, by means of appearance, to any degree in which an individual takes his appearance, is generally an unfaithful position. John 7:24, 51 says, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with righteous judgment. ... Our law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?" This is not to say that men cannot judge at all. To judge is essentially impossible not to do. Everyone judges constantly: positively judging one person is the same as negatively judging everyone else; it is to say that that person is superior in some sense. Most men fear the incoming judgment but live by an outgoing judgment, therefore I am convinced that most men do not follow, or even understand, their own logic until it benefits themselves. To elaborate on controllable prejudgment, I am going to use a "bandana-covering-the-face" example:

If late at night I am walking alone, should I become intimidated when casually approached by a stranger with a red bandana covering his face? Should not I truly only fear God? When the stranger is approaching, he, just like any individual, has the decision, on the spot, to either follow through with a crime or turn from it. If I instantly anticipate the darker side, then I am inadvertently hoping for his worst. This leaves little faith in the security and conviction of God for both him and myself. In that case, I would even more deserve the coming misdeed. Similarly, and previously quoted, C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that when one goes on thinking that his enemies are worse than they really are, he is "beginning to wish that black was a little blacker" (pg. 118). Oppositely, if I believe that he can suddenly reconsider what he was going to do, then I am hoping for his best. I am beginning to wish that there is a light within him that can steer him in opposition of sin. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." One might call it a sanction for naivety, but that is merely a label tagged onto a legitimate philosophy. A label does not change the truth value of the product it labels. In order on the scale of perception, there is cynicism, there is realism, there is hope, there is naivety. I find them all useful. No man is fully cynical, and none fully naive, rather his perception, to a degree, shifts under a given circumstance.

Being nice merely to be liked in return nullifies the point. The vital difference between avoiding negative prejudgment and longing for some form of mercy through wishful thinking - which is always vain and destructive - is that it is neither intended to nor believed to affect the outcome of another man's decisions. It is, in fact, one's inner victory over fear where true freedom is then found. Ultimately, whether he commits the crime or not is irrelevant to the faithful man because, sooner or later, God blesses the faithful man in such a way where the flesh decreases as the spirit increases, where the temporal yields to the eternal. The faithful man perceives nothing less than opportunity in difficulties. Flowing through his spine, faith and courage work together: Such a man does not fear losing his life, thus he will risk losing it at times in order to empower it. By this he actually values his life more than the man who fears losing his life. It is much like leaping from a window in order to avoid a fire yet in that most crucial moment knowing that God will appear to catch you.

Man causes more problems than he solves when he frequently disregards the example of Christ. Maybe he insists on doing this for a number of reasons: It can seem too difficult to try to follow, or it, theoretically, leads a boring lifestyle, or maybe it is just cheesy. However it is typical for man to want to thrive in his own misconceptions, and through short-sightedness, he settles for the less ripe fruit merely because it is easier to reach. Regardless, would Christ wet his pants in the sense of danger, or would he stand firmly on what is virtuous no matter the earthly consequences? Would he look at a group of gangstas and become intimidated? Would he look at an emo and begin ridiculing him? Would he look at a bum in disgust? Would he look enviously at a successful man? The answers to these questions are so evident that the questions themselves are rhetorical. Love begets wisdom, thus it is, as often misconceived, more than vain layers of tenderness; it is inherently rational and comprehensive of the problem within the problem: for instance, envy is one of the most excused sins in the media of political correctness. Those you find most attractive, or seem to have it all, are often some of the most insecure at heart, and that is because people assume that they do not need anything but defamation. Such envy is the selfish man's way of coping with where he feels a shortcoming in himself. He, consciously or unconsciously, acts in a way in which selfishness is his key to emotional self-improvement. I would say, "In the land where excellence is commended, not envied, where weakness is aided, not mocked, there is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman." God's teachings, when sincerely respected, are far more beneficial than one can only feel. Christ delves far beyond the means of superficiality, not simply because of his immaculate love, but also because he considers the distinct cases of each individual rather than withholding a broadened perception by use of stereotypes.

It always seems as though the definition of love will remain debatable by an opinionated world, so I want to include a word from Kierkegaard that frames this for a more solid understanding: "Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see." Love is without a doubt the laziest theory for the meaning of life, but when it actually comes a time to do it we find just enough energy to over-complicate life again. Any devil can love, whom he himself sees as, a good person who has treated him well, but to love also the polar opposite is what separates love from fickle emotions. To endure such a challenge is the opposite of cowardice.

Now returning to the example, I understand that depending on how one defines it, taking such a position can at times ruin the fun (or the personal safety net) of an individual, but on the other hand, and more importantly, it provides the autonomy of a noble sacrifice. Throughout much of history the greatest men were those who were substantial enough to make sacrifices. Truly understanding that values are more important than valuables is temporarily the hardest yet permanently the most admirable way. It is what I like to call a "moral overload" because, when desiring to walk as Christ did, one is bound to pass through dark moments in order to remain consistent with his integrity; however, through faith in Christ those darkest moments will ultimately resolve into the brightest moments. And in this, as one becomes wiser, the more sensible the way of Christ becomes to him: the notion "God's laws are too strict" becomes "God's laws are my delight."