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On Common Decency -- How To Spread It to The World

Updated: 5 days ago

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I hail from a specific, secular culture that, while not distinguished in its lineage, advocates traits that can be indeed associated with nobility: politeness, kindness, consideration, tolerance, and clear language—qualities that command respect in any society.

Therefore, it would be only natural that I would firstly, if not only, define the decency of an individual in accordance with the way they behave, more so than any other type of measurement. While I was once taught that there are people, such as us, who are of a 'higher quality' than others, I have come to disdain such an arrogant expression.

My Code Towards Morally-Low Behavior

However, treating others like abusers and people who normalize threatening as legitimate are such exceptions, because why would I have a moral reason to treat such people as good as people who never abused or threatened me? Here's my code, regarding such exceptions:

  1. I will not be decent towards those who abused me. I will even be more indecent towards them if they think they deserve the respect I share to other human beings, despite abusing me.

  2. I will not be decent towards those who think threatening me is okay just because it is beneficial to the requests they may be asking of me. Abusing my flashbacks for your own gain is immoral whether or not you're aware you're doing just that. Ignorance is no excuse for misdeeds. And it does not matter that none or few understands. Objectivity exists beyond our perception. And I'm too vengeful to forget any harm made to me, which was plenty already.

  3. I will not be decent towards those who think it's a good idea to waste my time with petty arguements, when I can dedicate that time to working on Philosocom, and/or resting for the next task on Philosocom. Wasting people's time involuntarily is an example of harassment.

  4. I will not be decent towards those who dehumanize me.

  5. I will only discard any of those conditions if I absolutely have to in order to get something I need, done, which is imperative for me to have.

If required me to apologize, that is something I am capable of doing, should I be convinced that it is the moral thing to do. And yes, I am willing to be convinced in the name of the truth.

The point of not tolerating indecency is to not enable or encourage its continuation.

The Rationale

A decent person is someone who consistently demonstrates gratitude, whether through words or gestures, when someone does something kind for them. They avoid using profanity or speaking aggressively unless absolutely necessary, or unless they speak to the morally-low (like people who physically abused them, or exploited their traumatic past). Violence, except for in self-defense, is not a characteristic of a decent person in my judgment, unless there are compelling reasons for it.

Universal respect to human beings is fundemental because we are, before all, human beings, and that might as well be the only thing common amongst all human beings. To dehumanize anyone, even if they are morally-low themselves, is morally-low by itself, and also the strawman's logical fallacy.

To be physically abusive to the innocent just because we were victims of abusers, does not justify our abuse of these innocent people. Retaliating against those who abuse us, and remembering what they did to us, to the grave, is a far better execution of justice. That's because justice is about getting the equivalent of what we receive. And to resume being worse like those who were worse to us, is not justice, but injustice, normalized.

I place minimal, if any, emphasis on a person's race, socioeconomic status, or beliefs and/or faith when evaluating their decency. True decency should transcend most, if not all, discriminatory scales. It is expressed not by these scales and not even by impressions, which can easily cover one's true acts. Decency is only expressed by the things we did, and by the things we might do. Since many of us are poor at making long-term decisions, indecency can quickly be a trait of ours, because we fail to optimally understand the impact of our actions.

As such, one of the reasons I don't like this world is because people don't understand what they're capable of and what the actions they're doing are capable of. I'm a broken man.

By the same token if I am in a taxi driven by an Arab person, I will not judge them based on their origin, despite the unfortunate negative stereotypes associated with Arabs in Israel. Similarly, I will not be care about positive biases when encountering someone who shares my religious origins, just because we both belong to the category of "The Chosen People." This unfair bias towards one's own believers is one of the reasons why I have declared myself an agnostic atheist.

Anti-Semitism, for instance, manifests from indecent and unfair judgment. Most Jews do not choose their religion; they are born into it and are afterwards labeled as such due to their ancestry, regardless of their personal beliefs or satisfaction with their Jewish identity.

I have no reason to view anyone who abused me as a decent person. No matter how much they would market themselves as good people to the world, none of this will change the fact that they abused voluntarily and that voluntary abuse is a form of evil. And that of course is in no way decent. Much health in our relationships can be gained and preserved if we didn't abuse each other so much. I unfortunately learned from this people how to be abusive myself but I refuse to be as morally-depraved as them unless I'm to be abused again!!

Therefore, as long as you exhibit proper manners and are a respectful person, that might suffice for me to consider you a decent individual. Of course, the other criteria is to not abuse me in any way just to make requests or demands. While I cannot control the actions of others, I sincerely hope that people would extend their respect beyond criteria that can unfairly discriminate; Respect, as human beings. Not carriers of different tags and labels. And I hope they wouldn't have to abuse others just to get what they want from them.

I do wonder if that is too much to ask. I am willing to improve my morality and that is why I also focus on ethics in my philosophical career. However, this basic priority of mine is not something most necessarily share.

A Practical Approach

In a world marked by injustice, some individuals face unfair treatment due to factors beyond their control. However, in a better world, I envision a more-noticed attitude that encourages the fair treatment of all individuals, regardless of their inherent or acquired characteristics. We should see people as human beings, and anything else, later.

This approach represents the most realistic and desirable way to interact with all human beings, regardless of who they are. It is fair that we be decent to anyone who has no ill-intent towards us, AND who has done nothing wrong to us. Only when these two are combined, then we have all the more reason to be decent to another human being. Because decency is expressed by act, and the lack of ill-will does not justify a horrible action such as abuse.

I learned from my abusers how to be abusive myself.... But I don't want to be one. I know what I am capable of, and I fear it. So I isolate myself physically from the world. Because the world lacks the long-term understanding to realize what it's doing to me. And what it might make me be, even further.

No one needs to meddle with me. Cycles of suffering and trauma can be ended without comitting suicide. And much suffering can be reduced with empathy and love.

Ultimately, the compelling reason to embrace decency lies in the inherent goodness of virtue and the horrendous effects of evil, normalized or otherwise. Evil can be made by even the most kind and polite of people. Goodness offers benefits to oneself, others, or all parties involved. Hence why goodness should always be prioritized over evil such as causing harm to others voluntarily.

Therefore, the pursuit of goodness transcends all, because there is nothing more beneficial, overall, than to cause and spread goodness.

And that is done by being a decent human being. Spreading good can only be done by doing good deeds, and staying clear of deeds that defy good -- From exploitation to abuse -- regardless of your intentions.

And the best way to avoid harmful deeds is to reduce interactions with people, which I do to this very day.

I just want to work and die in peace.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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