The fact of the matter is, identifying the right side of history is easy -- indeed so easy that it's easier if one doesn't actually know much about history. So easy that there is virtually no moral action involved.
To be sure, choosing the wrong side of history can be a significant moral wrong. To support the Nazis or support slavery or support Stalin in this day and age shows a deeply twisted moral sense. But to oppose these three is so easy, and so obvious, from this point in history, that there is little to no virtue involved.
To congratulate oneself for admiring the right side of history is to assign oneself virtue one has not earned. Indeed, it is often more a sign of pride than of virtue. Without question, we should admire those in history who acted virtuously, but we should not consider ourselves to have performed any great virtue by doing so. Nor should we be quick to consider ourselves the superiors of those "ordinary people" in history who failed to rise to the standards of our heroes. We look at their actions with all of the clarity of distance, and none of the danger of immediacy.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Judging the past
In light of yesterday's post about Nagasaki, I wanted to share this from Darwin Catholic--though I have to be honest; I'm still trying to figure out just what it means: