My Screed, My Rules
OK, so now that we’ve established this business about needing to factor in all relevant data, why is this any big deal, to make this fuss over?
I contend that the importance of this is that it’s associated with the opening question, of whether we can improve the world. To make it a bit easier to explain how these are connected, I’d first like to introduce some terminology:
Let’s call the state of the world as it is now, “A”. And the different world, with the hypothetical improvements, we’ll call “B”. Basically, my belief is that the flawed thinking described in the previous chapter (along with some other types of flawed thinking, which I’ll get into later on) is inhibiting us from reaching B. But in order to show why this is so, we need to specify what exactly B is.
And in addition to nailing down B, a path from A to B must also be laid out. There’s an infinite number of different B’s that we could potentially conjure up, but there’s no point in considering any that aren’t actually possible, and by possible I mean that there exists a way to get to there from A.
However, in contemplating paths from A to B, I’m going to place certain restrictions on what can be allowed to take place in a path- 2 rules, to be precise:
RULE #1: No mass murder of any civilian population.
I’m not feeling a burning need to justify this.
RULE #2: No forced mass expulsion of any civilian population.
Now this one I expect to be the tougher sell…
I concede that the main problem with a sweeping generality like this is that it doesn’t take into account how a given population got to be where it is.
There are many different ways for a people to have gotten to be where they are now. One way for example, is that they could be indigenous to the land that they’re living in, i.e. they and all their ancestors have continually inhabited the land from time immemorial. Or another possibility is for people to have immigrated to where they currently are, or they’re descended from people who had immigrated.
But within the immigration possibility, there are further possibilities, and this is where things can get a bit thorny. There are the cases where people go through whatever the standard procedure is for applying for admittance into a host country, and those that are accepted through this process are then permitted to enter. And then, there are those who bypass the official channels, and cross into a country illegally… This has become a significant issue in my own country, the United States. The number of illegal immigrants, mainly from south of the border, has swelled to the millions, and there are many Americans that are none too pleased about this, as evidenced by the popularity of presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has advocated for deporting all of the illegal immigrants. As they see it, anything else would essentially be rewarding them for their unlawful actions, and unfair to those who played by the rules to get into this country.
But there are also many Americans who find the prospect of such a mass deportation to be unthinkably horrendous, as they imagine thousands of crying, traumatized little children being herded at gunpoint from the only home they’ve effectively ever known. In fact, I’d venture to say that not just many, but most Americans are not in favor of having us undertake the large scale, militarized operation that would be required to round up and deport millions of people as proposed by Trump, and I say this because since we are a democracy, our policies are determined by the will of the majority, and we have not yet gone in this direction (and it seems unlikely that we will in the future, even though Trump is as popular as he is, because he does not appear at this time to be popular enough to win a general election)*.
Anyhoo- basically, “the law” doesn’t take away our collective power to choose otherwise, if we deem the law in certain circumstances to be incompatible with minimizing overall human misery, which we may determine to be a higher priority than strict adherence to the law.
*(Addendum, 11/9/2016: Well it has turned out that Trump did win the election, but he did not win the popular vote- thus perhaps my claim that most Americans are not actually in favor of deporting all illegal immigrants, is still true. But on a personal note, Trump’s victory was no cause for celebration for me… it has only reinforced my notion of real life resembling some sick joke. ☹ )
Published in 2016 by Sandra Goldstein.