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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Another article I wrote for the Spyglass magazine

A/N: Okay so it turns out I'm not just a wannabe historian, I'm a wannabe philosopher too. Here's a random article I wrote for the Spyglass magazine, of which I am the co-editor in chief along with an IRL friend of mine. You may think it reeks of liberalism, but whatever.

The Value of Morality in a World of Lies 


        If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been called a hopeless idealist for simply caring about human rights, I’d have enough money to eradicate poverty in countries that have been systematically pillaged.

I’m very opinionated on indigenous rights, yet even my own family has tried to discourage me from raising my voice on the topic, saying that my ideals were na├»ve and unattainable. It is a tragedy that the title of ‘social justice warrior’ now brings up negative connotations of teenagers whose intentions may be in the right place but who waste their time by getting into problems they don’t understand and dismissing every opinion they disagree with as discriminatory. With so many critics saying we aspiring activists are insufferably ignorant, while others doubt the power we have to make a difference in the world, one can’t help but wonder if some of the critics actually have a point. I’m here to remind every teenager who has ever longed for a world free of poverty, where different ethnic groups live in harmony and no child is deprived of an education, that their vision is neither unimportant nor unrealistic and that their voice is more powerful than they think. At the same time, we must also listen to some of our criticism as part of the never-ending journey of educating ourselves. We have to admit there are many people in our movement who make a mockery of social justice, and also many intellectuals on the conservative side who are actually fully justified in questioning the value and morality of our struggle. They point out that in order to help the oppressed, one must be willing to sacrifice many of their own comforts in life and that the majority of people would be unwilling to do this. Such an opinion is perfectly valid, and is reminiscent of many great philosophical ideas that have been proposed before, such as Ayn Rand’s individualism in which selfishness is actually a virtue and a just society can only be achieved if there is recognition of the rights of the individual. The individual should not feel pressured by us social justice warriors into giving up any of their money to help the poor, as can be seen in one of Rand’s most famous quotes “the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” It’s a compelling argument, so why do we social justice warriors continue in our quest? I would say it’s because we realize that when human rights are at stake for one group, it’s a threat to every individual’s well-being as well. The individual’s rights are impossible to alienate from the rights of humanity. This world has enough selfish tyrants in it already, and we really can’t fall into the trap of believing that injustice is more profitable to us personally than justice, because that idea is not true. If one group is being oppressed, how can we be sure that their oppressor won’t come after us the next day? The view that doing good for others will in turn do good for ourselves isn’t an irrational belief, nor is it a religious concept like karma, it’s a fact. Benevolent actions are more likely to have a positive outcome for everyone, which means activists are actually being more realistic than those who are skeptical about the morality of their movement.

I encourage all social justice warriors to continue in their courageous fight, but to never forget that change in society starts with the individual. Everyone has a universal moral compass inside them, so being uncompromisingly good, philanthropic, and selfless is as easy as being yourself. Never stop learning and asking questions, and in your busy schedule of public protests and fundraisers, always take some time as Immanuel Kant would say to reflect on the starry heavens above you and the moral law within you.

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