Freedom quest of Zork (the) Hun

The cost of free is freedom

I tell you why


I was sitting in my bed sipping my morning coffee thinking of my neighbour. I was thinking of her in relation to this wonderful video, thinking how could that argument and the example in it be made even more obvious than it already is. My neighbour is usually full of feelings and righteous indignation. She would be the first to get indignant about the immorality of price gauging declaring that ‘somebody should do something about it.’

The learnliberty.org video did not tell me anything I did not already know but it does say it in a way that anybody can understand. I cannot see a way to argue with it, yet I am not convinced that it would change the mind of my neighbour.

As I was developing the example further a mail popped into our mailbox with the following comment:

“ I had to share   this with You. A 13 year old Irish boy wrote the lyrics and composed this world song. Then he turns around, sings and records it. Be sure to read the words.”

What I got in the mail was not this youtube link but a 4Mb attachment with English and Arabic subtitles. I transcribed and commented the lyrics, you can find it below, but for now back to my neighbour and price gouging.
She, like most people approaches the question from a fundamentally emotional angle. Isn’t it bad enough that people are suffering? How can we allow someone to profit from it? Isn’t that revolting? Somebody ought to do something about it!
She is a bit like my sister who is a little lighter on the indignation but even more adamant about the superiority of feelings.
To her, “empathy, honesty, friendship, attention and love are more important than intelligence” and she “ devoted [her] whole life to learn to be open and to be without prejudice.” She also pointed out (as I am writing this) that 95% of the decisions people make are emotional decisions. Unfortunately, she is absolutely right.

Feelings, it seems, trump everything. Reason, logic, intelligence, but most importantly (to me): MORALITY.
Good feelings and good intentions are used as excuses for anything.
For most people, it does not matter how much good something does if it does not ‘feel’ right and it does not matter how much harm something does as long as it feels good.

I am in a constant struggle trying to point this out to people in very practical terms (such as the way exemplified in the learnliberty.org video linked above) and 95% of the time I fail. In most cases I can see that the source of the resistance to logic, evidence and reality is emotional. No matter how obvious the harm is, people will stick with what feels good.

Emotions are important. Their biological function is to motivate us to act but we cannot allow them to control our actions. Ultimately, we must do what IS right, not what simply feels good. Reason can be checked against reality. Emotions can only be checked against other emotions and in the contest of emotions what matters more is strength. Stronger emotions usually win because they motivate to stronger actions. Negative emotions tend to be stronger than positive ones.

I can stand my ground in a contest of reason but I do not want to be in a contest of emotions. That, even if I win, I lose.

The ultimate test of any action is the outcome. The reality of the outcome. The reality that can be analyzed, that can be compared to the outcomes of other actions. Reality that can be judged to be better or worse.
We cannot excuse the bad outcomes with the intentions that instigated the actions leading to it.

Hitler was bad because he had bad intentions, Mao was good because he had good intentions.
Neither of them can hold a candle to Rachel Carson, the patron Saint of environmentalism. According to some estimates, she is responsible for more death than Hitler and Mao put together, but she is not only excused but revered because she had the best of intentions.

Out of this three, who is the worst monster? When we scale good and bad, how little or how much can or cannot, should or should not be excused? JUST BECAUSE it happened as the result of good intentions?
Hitler had the best of intentions for the German race. He was very emotional about it. Just watch him speak.

I should stop using extreme examples. They may shut down people even more than the mild ones. Unfortunately, I am not free from emotions either and frustration is a very strong (and negative) emotion.

How can I communicate reason to those who can only feel, but unable to think? To consider evidence and to have the moral courage to face the consequences of their ideas? How can I make them see the actual harm their feel-good ideas can and do cause? To make any of them understand that the road leading to hell IS INDEED paved with good intentions?

To make them understand that only a constant, honest, logical re-examination of the results of our actions can lead to a better world? Emotions are not helping. They are, in fact, in the way and they should never be relied on as the primary guides of our actions.

And with that, let us take a look at the emotional genius of Declan Galbraith.

Here is the full lyrics:

In my dream children sing a song of love for every boy and girl
The sky is blue, the fields are green and laughter is the language of the world
Then I wake and all I see is a world full of people in need

Tell me why, does it have to be like this?
Tell me why, is there something I have missed?
Tell me why because I don’t understand
When somebody needs somebody we don’t give a helping hand
Tell me why

Every day I ask myself what I have to do to be a man
Do I have to stand and fight to prove to everybody who I am
Is that what my life is for to waste in a world full of war

Tell me why, does it have to be like this?
Tell me why, is there something I have missed?
Tell me why because I don’t understand
When somebody needs somebody we don’t give a helping hand
Tell me why

(refrain repeated)
(Chorus overlaid on repeated ‘why’:)

Why, why the tigers run
Why, why do we shoot the guns
Why, why do we never learn

Can someone tell us why we let the forest burn

Why, why do we say we care
Why, why do we stand and stare
Why, why do the dolphins cry

Can someone tell us why we let the ocean die

Why, why if we are all the same
Why, why do we pass the blame
Why, why does it never end

Can someone tell us why we cannot just be friends

Why, why?

==================== =

It is a song full of feelings. It is also 6 years old at this point, and contrary to the claim of the e-mail received, he did not write it. His ‘dedication’ @ 0:08sec makes it clear. These are words of adults put into the mouth of a child.

Once you look at the video on Youtube, you should also spend some time on the comments. To see the emotions in them. Wonder how we can get from this song to a comment like this:

Fuck fuck israel
rarao4 11 months ago

and eventually this:

Tell me why this vid got turned into Islamic hate of Israel and the West. That’s not what he is singing about. Tell me why Sadam killed his own ppl & why he used chemical warfare against Kurds. If USA & Europe love to kill Muslims, tell me why Muslims love to kill Christians just because they aren’t Muslims. Tell me why suicide bombers kill women and children. If you defend land then why blow up US buildings, and Bali restaurants. God/Allah said “Thou shalt not kill”
1motormouse in reply to sadkkiler (Show the comment) 11 months ago

== ====================== ==

And now I will tell you why:

In my dream children sing a song of love for every boy and girl
The sky is blue, the fields are green and laughter is the language of the world
Then I wake and all I see is a world full of people in need
Tell me why, does it have to be like this?
Tell me why, is there something I have missed?

Yes you did. You missed basic education. A chance to learn from history that need is the natural state of existence but luckily we have FAR FAR less of it than we did at any other time in history. We should celebrate but if we really want to feel bad, we should feel bad about the people who are fighting against the elimination of need and suffering such as socialists and environmentalists.

Tell me why because I don’t understand
When somebody needs somebody we don’t give a helping hand

But we do. We help each other more than ever. Except, of course, when governments are preventing us from doing so.

Tell me why
Every day I ask myself what I have to do to be a man

It is simple. Grow up and stop being so damn sappy. Using your head wouldn’t hurt. Fire the people who write your songs.

Do I have to stand and fight to prove to everybody who I am

Isn’t that what you are doing right now? Proving to everybody who you are?

Is that what my life is for to waste in a world full of war

Come again? We have less military conflict in the world than we ever had in history. Read Steve Pinker.

Tell me why, does it have to be like this?
Tell me why, is there something I have missed?
Tell me why because I don’t understand
When somebody needs somebody we don’t give a helping hand
Tell me why

(refrain repeated)
(Chorus overlaid on repeated ‘why’:)

Why, why the tigers run

Probably because they are in need of some food

Why, why do we shoot the guns

Because we may  think that we need the food more than the tigers or just don’t want the tigers to eat us. No matter how happy it would make them.

Why, why do we never learn

That, I would like to know myself. Why don’t you learn? Then you would have answers instead of stupid questions.

Can someone tell us why we let the forest burn

Now that is a loaded question. First, we don’t. Second, we should. All around the world we created very dangerous forests by spending the last one hundred year preventing natural forest fires that healthy forests badly need.

Why, why do we say we care

Why do you? Are you saying that this whole song is a lie and you don’t give a damn? And if you do, then why don’t you ask yourself?

Why, why do we stand and stare

Do we? I don’t. You don’t either. I write, you sing.

Why, why do the dolphins cry

Do they? They have no tear ducts.

Can someone tell us why we let the ocean die

What on earth makes you think that the oceans are dying? And that there is something we can do about it if it does. There is clearly something you have missed in your education.

Why, why if we are all the same

But we are not….

Why, why do we pass the blame

…and that is why.

Why, why does it never end

Because conflicts can never end as long as we keep pretending that we are all the same, that all cultures are equal. The stronger cultures will eventually prevail.

Can someone tell us why we cannot just be friends

Why don’t you ask the Muslims commenting on your video? Why can they not be friends with the Jews?

Why, why?

= ================ =

The song is a pathetically emotional appeal for more emotions using ill-informed clichés to make the point.

What would it take to make the world understand that we have way to much emotion already and way too little reason?

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2 responses to “I tell you why

  1. Oresztesz November 14, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Emotions were never designed for reason, their sole purpose is survival of the individual, or more likely the gene as per Mr. Dawkins. They can get pretty self-centered.
    That said, they are still subject to reason, as long as they are taken into account eventually. Mr. Will Power is there to put a lid on them until we find a reasonable solution. Attempts at swallowing emotions forever (because of ignorance or a directly conflicting stronger emotion) will get you some physical or emotional symptoms.
    Therefore: reason SHOULD rule, but any strategy based on solely logic WILL fail if it cannot take individual and group emotions into account, or does not devise a way to help individuals change but not controll emotions (at least not forever).

    Like

  2. zorkthehun November 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I can clearly see, that I will have to elaborate, which – luckily – I was planning to do anyway.
    🙂
    Emotions are fine, motivation is good, the problem only starts when they overrule reason, when they make us do really stupid things.
    BUT: more on that later

    Like

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