Do the ends justify the means? No, never. Never? Never. Why? First off, all means are ends in and of themselves. If that is not a sufficient answer, know that unless you are the one who is always in control of the means, when someone else is on control of the means from time-to-time, those perhaps inappropriate and unpleasant means could be used against you, justified by the pursuit of the ends those folks had in mind. And you may very well disagree with those chosen ends all while you are disagreeing with the means being used to achieve those ends. “Karma” is a word that pretty well sums that up. The Golden Rule is a more Western way to say the same thing: Use the means on others that you would like to have used on you.
Links and References
Do the ends justify the means? No, never. Never? Never. Why? First off, all means are ends in and of themselves. If that is not a sufficient answer, know that unless you are the one who is always in control, those perhaps inappropriate and unpleasant means could be used against you, justified by the pursuit of the ends those folks had in mind. And you may very well disagree with those chosen ends all while you are disagreeing with the means being used against you to achieve those ends. “Karma” is a word that pretty well sums up that reversal. The Golden Rule is a more Western way to say the same thing: Use the means on others that you would like to have used on you.
Let’s take a seat in our favorite theater and watch a particularly powerful scene from “A Man For All Seasons.” This is a conversation between Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, and Will Roper, the young hothead who want to fix all perceived injustices immediately and by any means necessary.
Will Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”
Will Roper: “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”
Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”
Yes, Sir Thomas would give the Devil the benefit of law for his–his–safety. As we all should. Remember the Golden Rule of means and tactics. And Karma; remember about Karma.
Think back with me to the debate about waterboarding. Many people were defending waterboarding by saying that information gathered that way saved American lives. The late Senator John McCain, famously a long-term, tortured prisoner of war, was against it. I am not taking a position for or against “enhanced interrogation” here; I am taking the position that if we do it, we should expect others to do it to us.
More recently, we saw how “enhanced” tactics can come back to haunt the enhancer. In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used a simple-majority vote to change the Senate’s rules, allowing confirmation of judicial nominees to non-Supreme Court posts by the same simple-majority vote. That greatly advantaged the Democrats at the time, but came back to bite them in the form of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. And there’s the “Biden Rule.” “Trump gets to fill Kennedy’s seat — and it’s all thanks to Harry Reid.”
Today’s key point: Employ only the means, the tactics, with others in pursuit of our agendas that we would accept being used on us by others in pursuit of their agendas. Perhaps more importantly, we should tolerate only these same means, these same tactics, that we would accept being used on us, as the only acceptable means and tactics to be used by so-called fringe groups who lean in our political direction. For example, if you lean left, do not tolerate Antifa’s tactics unless you are willing to have those same means used against you. And if you lean right, you must be intolerant of Unite The Right’s tactics. This goes beyond who has the power. Even if we expect to hold power forever and never expect others to be able to use means and tactics of any kind against us, there is the moral question of what is right. And by definition, the Golden Rule of means and tactics is morally right. And no, the golden Rule is not “Who has the gold, rules.” It is do unto others…
Let’s apply the two Results With Reason main tenets to today’s issues. The two main tenets that we believe in at Results With Reason are:
- Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper.
Today’s application is again straightforward:
- Personal Responsibility. Engage in the political conversation. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe, for what you know to be true. Show them love and trust as you do.
- Be your Brother’s Keeper. Be patient with each other; some will understand what you saying immediately, others will not. Teach and encourage; don’t criticize and reject. Love and lead. Remember, we are all in this together.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. It is not enough to be a well informed voter. We need to act. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
Latest posts by Will Luden (see all)
- Homeschooling: The 4th Leg of the K-12 Table (EP.220) - April 7, 2020
- Which “New Normal?” Crises reveal character, not build it. (EP.218) - March 31, 2020