The White Moderate and Culpability

By Dylan Flint

I will hereby make a, what today seems like, radical claim. For the sake of reflection, I will suggest that those who are dispositioned towards so called “political inaction” and tranquility, while others suffer, are not to be loathed.

Looking over our philosophical history, it can arguably be said that this mass of people have gone from approbation, in the time of Aristotle or Confucius, to being labelled ‘the enemy of progress’ by the extreme Left today. How has this happened? Is there something drastically different about our day and age? Or have those who are dispositioned towards chaotic revolution always spewed their venom at those who weren’t spurred to action anytime, anyone, anywhere suffered in this already wretched world?

If my bias is not clear, let me add that just because you are fighting in the name of justice, it does not mean those who disagree with you are advocates of injustice. For haven’t you ever considered the possibility that you’re wrong? — that any ideology which demands you treat your fellow countrymen, who wake up early every morning to go to work so they can provide for their families, as the enemy ought to be questioned?

The non-violent mass of humanity who, of their own volition, work for a living, are content with moderate comforts, and have no interest in your revolution, are not the scourge of the Earth. If anything, their stance of working for what they have while adhering to the laws of the land and paying taxes, should be celebrated.

It is those who commit injustice that are the enemy — those who yield their political power for personal gain — those who commit crime — those who rape, murder, and steal — those who leach off the labor of others to live — those who shy away from assuming responsibility — those who fail to do the right thing when it is their responsibility to do so — those who do not honor contracts or their word — those who think of what they can get away with instead of what they can contribute. I say these are the ones we should hate — these are the ones we should call ‘the enemy’.

But are we not also guilty by omission? Can’t we be held morally responsible for the things we fail to do, just as much as the things we do, do?

For example, it would be no good to tell the mother of a child that instead of saving their child’s life you chose to watch them drown from the safety of the shore. While there is something really right about this acquisition, I wonder where the line is. I wonder exactly how much suffering is acceptable until it spurs action, assuming that there is such a motivating point. For it is not that we watch the child drown up until the last moment where he could be saved. Rather, we act immediately upon the recognition that something is wrong. And today, something is wrong.

But, then again, I don’t readily see an answer to this riddle. For certainly it cannot be so that I am meant to act anytime, anywhere someone is hurting. Or do we suppose intervention is only warranted when one is a hold of an immediate perception of injustice? I pray there are not many this boorish. For even if you close your eyes, or look away, it does not change the fact that the child is still drowning.

At the same time, I cannot deny that at some point it is morally inexcusable to not act. But are we there yet? Are we at this point? Many say yes, but must I then throw my hands up and say I cannot go another minute in my own little life unless I completely address the injustices and tragedies of this world thereby diving headlong into the water in search of the drowning boy just because many say so?? Even if we assume for the moment that we are there, it is obviously not this simple. For exactly how much of my attention, energy, and will power needs to be directed towards the eradication of suffering? If I direct all of myself, I will perish, and then what good will have been done?

I need to love, to laugh, and to have joy. Are these really at the expense of another? I don’t believe so. For it stands to be shown that I even have the power to end injustices inflicted upon another, and that my happiness stands in stark contrast to this ability. What a tragedy it would be, indeed, to give all of yourself in vain. Who benefits from such a waste? And haven’t I found grace by accepting my own responsibility?

But now this entire discussion seems callous. Who am I to even weigh these things? What pomp and arrogance indeed! But don’t we assume people have the ability to help one another? What, if not this, is implied by the acceptance of this belief on the one hand, and its question in application on the other? Or do we really suppose lady liberty is in the eye of every man — her copper scales in the grips of their own hands? Maybe we do. Maybe we do.

Every night I rest my head comfortably, contented that I have done enough for the day, while at the same time, the world wails from the pangs of injustice. Have I really done enough? Have I done all that I can?

If your only influence was to spur this form of reflection, I would praise you. But there is wickedness in your words. Good men reflect, the masses ignore, and the violent find their justification.

Tell me, is there nothing better than this?