TED Conversations

Andrea Morisette Grazzini

CEO, WetheP, Inc.

TEDCRED 30+

This conversation is closed.

What if Hawks & Doves Married Moral Codes?

Soldiers and peace activists both follow a code of moral conduct so compelling they are willing to put their lives in peril.

Peace “doves” believe humanity isn’t humane if it’s organized around killing and war. Military “hawks” believe societies can’t survive without establishing boundaries via military engagement.

Both care about human justice. Both possess some level of empathy. The Q isn’t whose morals are better angels or lesser evils. But whose are achieving their humane ideals?

For hawks: How are billions in spending and millions of deaths achieving human progress?

And doves: How are your methods missing the mark, while millions still die?

These require understanding moral codes rhetoric. Empathy, like compassion, has lost much in translation. Both now imply something close to inertia and impotence, if not cloaked insincerity.

We’ve attached much to these internalized “aren’t I/we humane because we/I feel and care” and little to externalized “it’s my job as a person of conscience to take humane action.”

A philosophical “if/then” equation emerges. The variables are short-term self-gain v. long-term moral-self gain.

David Brooks’ article The Limits of Empathy notes “Nazi prison guards sometimes wept as they mowed down Jewish women and children.”

Nazis’ genocidal interpretations of this if/then equation were: “If I kill these people, then I’ll protect my self.” Rather than: “If I kill these people, then I am violating my job as a humane man.” Or: “If I kill these people, then I can’t live with myself.”

Nazis “traded” others’ lives for short-term gain. They didn’t decide: “I am not willing to trade my morals to save my job/rank/title. Or even, my life.”

Soldiers and peace-activists make this latter choice daily: a conscious decision to enact one’s code of conscience.

Can soldiers and peace activists connect moral-code forces for non-violent solutions?

Constructive comments only, please.

Thank you --
Andrea

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.