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Old May 15th 2016, 07:07 PM
Abishai100 Abishai100 is offline
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Default The Devil's Virtue: Democracy

In the iconic play "The Merchant of Venice" (William Shakespeare), a wise young woman named Portia must intercede to save the soul of a man trapped in a death payment to a cruel debt collector.

No party is truly innocent, and Portia's job is to simply deter any unnecessary cruelty (e.g., egregious punishment).

When we pollute the Earth with industrialization-related waste, we blame ourselves morally for the deterioration of ecosystems. However, what is our moral compass for determining repentance/punishment when blame is not unilaterally clear or when multiple parties are to blame in a grudge case?

The Christian Bible suggests that man betrayed his own soul by succumbing to natural temptation and allowed Sin to enter the world.

There are many folk tales about the Devil, the adversary of humanity depicted in the Bible, creating all kinds of debate intrigue regarding the irredeemability of man.

Mankind has definitely been in situations where blame is unclear. For example, during the American Civil War which was fought mostly over the issue of the abolition of slavery of Africans (African-Americans), both sides of the conflict (the North and the South) were not clearly anti-racist, making blame rather unclear and creating long-term grievances. President Abraham Lincoln had challenges during the post-war Restoration because of this reason.

There are a handful of everyday riddles that deal with this moral ambiguity:

1. If a prostitute falls in love with a client, is the client obligated to show extra respect?

2. If a master does not pay regular wages to a lazy servant, are both parties guilty?

3. If a female rape victim kills her rapist, can the crime be construed as an act of temporary insanity?


America is the land of laissez-faire morality (as compared to, say, Islamic Fundamentalist states such as Iran), and America's brand of multi-cultural traffic creates a colourful kind of mercantilism exchange. For example, the American film "The People vs. Larry Flynt" (Milos Forman) explores the real world story of pornography magazine (Hustler Magazine) publisher Larry Flynt confronting the legal obstacles in America impeding his 'right' to freely use capitalism as a podium to market taboo products liberally. In the dialogue-savvy film, the best virtue upheld is democracy itself.

As the adage goes, "the virtue of the Devil is in his loins," so what would the Devil say about democracy?


Here is a mock debate between the Devil and Shiva (Hindu god of destruction) over the morality-salvation potential of democracy:



====

SHIVA: Electing leaders ensures grievance dialogue.

DEVIL: Even elected leaders feel the temptation to abuse power.

SHIVA: Power is related to fear.

DEVIL: Power is related to profit.

SHIVA: Democracy can comfort our anxieties about 'guilt by association.'

DEVIL: 'Guilt by association' is the best condemnation of politics.

====




Such dialogue motivates us to think more progressively about Christian redemption proverbs.





The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare)
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