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Morality and Passion

As we know, there is more to a person's morality than his intensions, and more than his outrage. As I see it, two important ingredients in morality are measure and a head clear of falsehoods. By measure I mean application of a degree of moderation rather than a wild, absolutistic assault against a perceived evil.

An example of a well-intentioned person was Adolf Hitler. He was a patriot, joining Germany's army in 1914 believing that his fellow Germans were under attack. He was outraged in seeing what he thought was all the sacrifice of his fellow German soldiers lost in a defeat he thought was the result of slackers and Marxist traitors who stabbed Germany in the back. He was outraged against Jews, whom he viewed as a race in competition with the Ayran race. He saw Jews as cosmopolitans in league with the Marxists and given to cheating good Germans through money-lending.

Hitler devoted his life to correcting the defeat imposed on Germany and advancing Germany and Aryans. But rather than winning recognition as a most righteous man, his intense righteousness mixed with fasehoods led to his being considered one of the most immoral of men.

Who are more recent intensely moralistic persons? Osama bin Laden was one, and others into blowing people up to make their point. The Taliban are intensely moralistic.

Passion exists, but passion connected to hate and fantaticism (lack of moderation) obscures whatever sense of normal decency a person may otherwise have. It is our simple sense of decency, if we have any, that gives us our morality.

Copyright © 2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.