Good and Bad, Right and Wrong

No Such Thing

Q: Are you saying there’s no such thing as right and wrong?

A: Yes.

Q: I disagree.

A: Good question. How do you test your theory?

Q: It’s obvious!

A: Yes, it’s obvious. It’s been learned. Yet I suggest the perception is counter-productive.

Q: You think I’m wrong?

A: Yes, I think you’re wrong. As long as saying that doesn’t invalidate what I’m saying.

Q: Okay, let’s say there’s no right and wrong. Then it’s okay for me to punch you in the face?

A: I’d rather you didn’t.

Q: I didn’t ask that. I asked if it was okay.

A: It isn’t okay with me. And I hope it isn’t okay with you either.

Q: Is there a difference between not okay and wrong?

A: No.

Q: Then you’re saying that hitting is wrong.

A: Wrong to whom?

Q: Wrong to everyone!

A: Hitting is wrong to me—especially if I’m the one being hit—but I doubt it’s wrong to everyone.

Q: Well it should be wrong to everyone.

A: I agree.

Q: So if you agree, you also agree that hitting is wrong.

A: I agree that hitting is wrong. However, my agreement doesn’t make it so.

Q: Maybe not. But you agree that hitting is wrong.

A: Yes, I agree that hitting is wrong. Because I don’t like it. I also agree that getting hit is wrong. Because I don’t like that either. I don’t think this makes hitting or getting hit inherently wrong. They’re just activities I prefer to avoid.

Q: People need to know hitting is wrong so they don’t do it.

A: Yes, that’s worked well.

Wrong is right when it’s the best alternative. If you get jumped in a dark alley, you might be right to turn violent to try to get away. You don’t automatically become wrong because someone in the world has the negotiating skills to maybe get away safely in that situation without hurting anyone.

Similarly, if you were the aggressor, jumping people in dark alleys, you would be wrong, in my opinion. Because I don’t like it. And because I believe myself capable of better alternatives.

People don’t go jumping people in dark alleys when they have better alternatives. They do it when it’s the best alternative they can think of at the time. If we want violence to be wrong, we have to make it wrong—by making sure everyone is able to find better alternatives.

Q: We have to do things for people or they’ll be bad?

A: Yes. People act according to the world in which they live. We can’t expect much goodness from people if we are meager with it ourselves.