Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yes, there IS a right and wrong

Words have meaning. Just because some words have been misused, or over-used, does not remove them from our language.

What prompted this diatribe was reading an essay by some touchy-feely who said that we simply need to have peace in our hearts, and not go around protesting, and arguing, because there is no "right" or "wrong."


I can understand, and sympathize with those who have heard "right" and "wrong" used in so many instances, and with so much judgement, that they declare there is no such thing. However, just as I offer my sympathy to those tender-hearted folk, my teeth begin grinding. It is statements such as those that lead others to label Unitarian and/or liberals as out-of-touch; naive.

Just because a word has been misused does not remove its meaning. (And I'm not talking about accidental misuse, such as when a person says "Irregardless" when they mean "Regardless" or "Literally" when they mean "Very.")

Lots of misused/overused words. Just because no one personally asked your opinion about what color the fellowship area should be painted, does not mean you are being disenfranchised. Not everything bad is a holocaust. Just saying "No" does not mean you are participating in a War on drugs.

And, of course, love. Has any word been more misused? But try and tell a mama who is kissing her children goodnight that "love" doesn't mean anything.

Most things are objective, even math. But just because some fundamentalist says that loving someone of the same sex is wrong, does not mean that wrong has no meaning. I say, with all of the personal authority I possess, that he is, in fact, wrong.

As long as we are careful to keep the words "right" and "wrong" for when it is truly necessary to employ them, they are a useful tool. However, if I begin assigning the word "wrong" to anything I disagree with, I dilute its power. I can't stand headcheese. But you are not wrong for enjoying it. I think that breastfeeding is a terrific gift that everyone who could, should give their baby. But if you chose otherwise, I will not call you wrong.

But when New Orleans remains in shambles, when our soldiers continue dying in a futile war, when human beings are being systematically raped and killed in Darfur, it is wrong.

I will not hide at home, with peace in my heart, when there is injustice in the world. To the best of my ability, I will stand up and not be afraid to march, to speak, against what is wrong.

It's the right thing to do.


ms. kitty said...

Hallelujah, sister, I'm right there with you!

Nancy said...

If there was no right or wrong, that would certainly make things easier! Have you been following the story of the guy in Florida who claims he is Christ? He doesn't seem to think there is any wrong, which a lot of people find comforting. He now has quite the following. Jonestown, here we come. Again.


Elizabeth said...

I am totally on board with you. My thing that I sort of try to promote when this subject comes up is the idea of wrong because we agree together as humanity that something is wrong, or wrong because we believe very strongly that something is wrong VS. wrong because THE UNIVERSE says it is wrong - as if wrongness were some sort of predetermined force lurking out there and actions already have some sort of predetermined rightness or wrongness to them. I had a prof. that argued that there are certain things that just ARE wrong because they ARE and that this was written into every human heart (unless you were crazy) and everyone knew these basic RIGHT and WRONG things. I tend to think that there are some things that MOST people agree are wrong, and as a society we agree are wrong. And somethings that we have yet to agree as a society are wrong, but that we SHOULD eventually agree on. But I don't think right and wrong floats out there, ready to be deciphered. Not that this is what you are saying. Just an important distinction to me. Great post. E

Earthbound Spirit said...


And, while we're at it... we can't "just believe anything we want" because we're UUs.

I agree that we should be intolerant of intolerance. I know the old saw about how we don't take stands, we move -- but not taking a stand against prejudice would be WRONG.

Anonymous said...

Amen, too. I've been through this with folks in some forums inhabited by us laity. it would be interesting to see our clergy approach the questions of right/wrong or good/evil once in a while.

ben said...

I won't say amen. But those are my sentiments exactly!

At least as an UU you are not accused of believing in nothing.

I present CNN on atheists.

Boobless Brigade Master said...

I'll take it one step further...from one of my most favorite quotes:

"I really resent the idea that the only reason someone might be good or moral is because they're religious. I do what I do... without hope of reward or fear of punishment. I do not require heaven or hell to bribe me or scare me into acting decently, thank you very much."
Anne Edwards in Mary Doria Russell's, The Sparrow

Great post LE:)