So I’m reading about a Jew being put down for not defending Israel, and the supposed story of an evolving morality: a young Jew who’s gung-ho for Israeli statehood and the plight of the Jews in the 20th century and how to right those wrongs, then evolves his moral position over the decades with the constant bombardment of opposing moralists who explain the Arabs are the put-upon people because the Jews created Israel and Israel is a colonialist/ racist/ imperialist/ everything-“bad”-ist entity.
And then I think, “Why are there sides in this argument?”
I know, so idealistic, but it’s not the college freshman version of this thought, it’s the college sophomore version.
When you don’t have a side to defend, you can choose which morality fits your best idea of a better future for all. In my head I saw this as a cloak of morality, a patchwork cloak of many colors, chosen from ideas taken from the religious and secular worlds, from all faiths, all nationalities, all inputs I’ve encountered.
When a person wears the patchwork morality cloak of many colors, berating someone for changing their position seems more petty. Of course you should change your position if the evidence you encounter points you to a new understanding. That’s the right and proper thing to do. When an old morality patch shows it’s lack of worth, you remove it and replace it with something better. That is sensible. Merely taking a side because that’s the side you’ve always been on is nonsensical.
The immediate argument against this that comes to mind is, “no matter what, you are on a side, and those who see things one way or the other will argue and fight to prove that their side is the right side.” This is true, but it’s not about being on a side when you wear the cloak, it’s about being above the fray and searching for truth. The guiding light, however, is about choosing which path will lead everyone to a better world.
The whole point here is to show why choosing a side (by which I mean a platform or a slate of pre-approved choices) and sticking to it is an outdated and counter-productive thing to do. Why be a Democrat or a Republican when you can choose the best of each and promote someone who expresses a more inclusive view of each side and shows a better path for everyone? Prove it and live it. Why choose one religion when you can include all of their teachings into your own morality? Forge a new path. Live an empirical life, but don’t be a simp.
What about oppositional intractability, those people, institutions, and ideas that are against your reasoned arguments and won’t change their minds despite the best evidence to the contrary? Self preservation. If their intractable argument would actually harm you if they prevail, then you fight it in every way. Self protection is completely sensible.
Getting back to what I was reading, I am pro-Israel for practical means, unlike those who turn anti-Israel after listening to unreasoned arguments against its existence, or those who defend Israel simply because they’re Jewish and expect other Jews to support it for that simplistic reason. Ideally Israel wouldn’t need to exist as a religious-based state — the home of the Jewish people — but the world isn’t ideal. Those opposed to Israel have many arguments against it, the vast majority being unreasoned and/or uninformed animosity toward a minority. In the end, it’s a choice between Israel existing and Israel being destroyed, and I choose for Israel to exist because Israel being destroyed would be just another holocaust, another diaspora, another excuse to scapegoat a constant minority and remove the power they’ve rightfully regained. To be anti-Israel is to be pro-genocide because that would be the result of allowing Israel to be overrun by its ideological and territorial enemies.
My moralistic patchwork cloak of many colors sees the best path for all is in encouraging Israel and fighting its enemies, not because Israel is inherently good, but because the path where Israel doesn’t exist is a bad path for the world in which I want to live. The fact that Israel has turned out so well and created so much good despite ferocious enemies and human foibles, is icing on the cake.