Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ten commandments in modern societies -7

"One can't be right all the time.  Try to be fair instead."

While we want to make the right decision or pass the right judgment all the time, this is simply impossible.   This is not the same as saying "nobody is perfect"; even a perfect person won't be able to do it.  We may not have all the correct information.  We do not have the wisdom to predict the future.  There are events that happen randomly or beyond humans' control.  Critically, it can be hard to tell what course of action is right or wrong because often times there are no solid foundations or scientific parameters which we can objectively evaluate.  There is scientific evidence that the Earth circles the Sun or RNA is required for gene expression, but there is never equally strong evidence in any economic or political arenas. All the guidance we have may be history, which are usually incompletely understood and subject to interpretation or manipulation, or tradition and common sense including societal rules, etc, which evolve over time.  So what was accepted 100 years ago may be wrong now, what is OK in 2012 may be terribly atrocious in 2112. 

The most important step towards making the least wrong move, after gathering as much information as possible, is to apply fairness in decision-making.  Simply, if you do it, everybody can do the same.  This is pure common sense.  So if you and I do exactly the same thing, but I sue to stop you from doing so, I will be laughed out of court.

Anybody violating this principle is called hypocrite, who often deserves much worse than the word. However, if you are the rich and powerful, you can safely practice hypocrisy with a straight face.  Say you reported "news" that led to unjust wars and death, but you could still claim the status of independent media and dismiss the non-free press, even if the latter didn't do anything as remotely bad as you.  You have hundreds or thousands of nuclear weapons, but claim Iran is a threat to world peace because it is trying to get the first one, even though you have produced zero evidence.  You have waged the most wars in the most countries in recent memories and killed the most people and continued to threatened more, but think someone else has a bad human right record.  You travel around the world for a few individuals but avidly support and even call for wars and aggressions, like Chris Smith and many others of the US congress.  Or, you are a star activist that relies on the worse human right offenders for funding to fight for your own cause. 

This is the reality of human societies.  Societies have always be ruled by the elites.  In the old times the legitimacy of elite rule was through the kings and queens.  In modern societies it is usurped through the fake sense of democracy, which is not more noble than before.  The difference now is that because of the ease to gather more information the citizenry has a better means to see through the hypocrisy of the elites.  How this will change the society remains to be seen, and if it does, it will likely take a long time.

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