Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The logic and illogic of judging-- based of birth and breeding!

(Also appeared at : South African Catholic 25 / 08 | August / 2009)


Editorial by Marc Aupiais

Hopefully, this article will clear up some of what I see as misperceptions of which sort of judgement based on birth and breeding is illogical and thereby superstitious and evil, and which judgement based on birth and breeding- is just and good.

A lot in society, in morality is based on geneology. Joseph, the step father of Jesus- was descended of Solomon, and Solomon was the son of David. The Jews were the Chosen People, the gentiles were not. Based on genetics, and their results- it is moral to kill a chimpanzee for food, but not to unjustifiably murder a human being. It is moral to easily hunt one form of animal- but not another which is endangered- this too is told us.

In modern times, we have become increasingly acute to the prejudice of racism. Racism is wrong, but so is unpreparedness.

Philosophically- is the treatment of one's own child with more care than another's, or the way in which inheritance is distributed wrong- I would say not so. It is "prejudging" in some perspectives, it is judging based on lineage, based on one's physical makeup- but just judgement, is it not.

If one assumes that a child is good because of the parent- this is not itself illogic- but if, having used prejudice (judging, based- often: not on behaviour of the individual or what may well be seen as apparent fact, but otherwise- often done prior the time- and kept up), we cease to judge- seeing the person act badly, this is illogical, as with sweepingly condemning all people of a race. Prejudice itself can prepare one to avoid danger or embarrassment- if in its right place- as speculation, or preparedness.

In one of my law books, when it was speaking of logic- it mentioned that most criminals in South Africa are black- something oft mentioned by some. I felt offended- I am white, but I hate racist comments. It went on to explain that the majority of South Africans are black. It is only logical that the majority ethnicity in a nation, are the majority of convicts in addition to this. Any percentage increase would also be explained- by poverty and history, and possibly other factors.

The race of a person is incidental to their circumstance.

While racism is illogical, as with bigotry- compensating for race is not, and the same with for instance- compensating for culture, is also certainly not. Not making a meat meal when a Catholic visits you on a Friday- is not bigotry. Knowing the values which are regular in a culture, and vetting what you share is not wrong, but correct.

I would be careful about saying "I love you" to an Afrikaans girl. In my English Speaking etc culture- it oft is an expression of friendship- though one should only say it to girls. For the Afrikaans culture- it means so much more. In my culture- it portrays everything from like, to humour- to undying affection and unending love!

And this does extend further. It is illogical to treat different people like one and the same. They are different- in good and bad ways, and if we judged persons of a different culture as though they belonged to our own- we endanger ourselves and the friendship.

It is wrong to judge on race in isolation, but just as illogical not to take people's race into account as we serve God and our fellow men- including those whose race and nation and culture we must also take into account while serving them, or accounting for them. When one has something firmer than culture to judge on, then the rebuttable presumptions of prejudice seem to fade or solidify.

If I were talking about the Gospel to an ethnic European, I may well compare the sacraments, and grace of God to a sort of Magic, as C.S. Lewis does with grace to magic, acknowledging that magic is evil. Knowing the cultural climate, I would hesitate to use the same example when speaking to some other South Africans- given our history of superstition and "witch" hunts and burnings in South Africa, of whole families. This is not to impart guilt, but to acknowledge a fear which haunts some or their fellows.

When the church therefore considers it an honour for a person of one or other race to be sainted. When a pope says that it is a favour to his country that he is elected and made leader- this is not illogical, "racism" as the slur says, said on these matters.

Race matters, appearances give hints of culture- but it should never blind us. This is why it is evil and superstition to purely judge on race if given more- or to class all of a race as one man, but not evil to assume relatively who a person may well be- based on what can be ascertained from their background.

We all have the same species DNA. We are mankind and one race, yet our differences- while sometimes historic are there for a reason. It is just as evil to be entirely "colour blind" as to be racist. And it is wrong to judge on race- while ignoring the facts. Racism, the vice- is foolishly out of proportion and is thereby evil, yet we need to also guard against those who want a world without culture, religion or race, that idea is dangerous. It is the basis of much of the modern persecution many face.

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