In the article Much Ado about Moving I wrote about The Moving Trifecta: The Movables, the Immovables, and the Movers. The Movables are impressionable and susceptible to power and authority. The Immovables are rigid, static, and averse to change. The Movers are proactive, hands-on, and fierce contenders who always take the initiative.
This article argues that it is only the Mover (more specifically, the Amoral Mover) who can be a true force toward achieving Joshua Greene’s idea of Meta-morality.
Just as there are three sides to the Moving Trifecta, there are three sides to the Mover. Let’s break down these three sides into the moral side, the immoral side, and the amoral side. And then let’s try to go beyond this. Let’s challenge this idea. Let’s challenge even Greene’s idea. Let’s keep moving forward. Like Albert Einstein said, “To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
The Moral Side
“There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.” ~ Ralph Marsten
The moral side of the Mover aims toward the healthy and sustainable, the good and the true. They push for loving tolerance and empathic compassion. They are positive and motivational, seeking to help people rise and become healthier versions of themselves. They have good intentions and they are well-meaning in their movement toward achieving peace in the world.
But an all-too-common hang-up with the moral mover is the tendency to cling to a fixed state of moral good. Whether that falls under religion, where the moral mover is spreading dogma, or in politics, where the moral mover is voting for the best candidate, there is the tendency for the moral mover to lose sight of other “ways” of being in the world precisely because they are “all-in” on certain “moral” causes. If a Mover is too moral, there is the risk of cheating themselves out of much progression. Be not simply good according to the status quo; be good despite the status quo. Be not simply good within the box; be good outside the box.
“In a culture where the overriding moral imperative has been narrowed to doing one’s job, earning a living, and maximizing profits, there is no sense of responsibility for one’s larger impact on society and nature. Ethics dwindles to an afterthought.” ~ Lois G. Herman, Future Primal
The immoral side is unhealthy & unsustainable. Most of us would like to think that we could never be an immoral mover. But most of us are inadvertently immoral. Because our ability to reason is not a given, it must first be taught and then practiced within a healthy environment. The problem is there is a serious dearth of healthy human environments. And when our ability to reason fails, we should be held accountable by those whose ability to reason has not failed; that is to say, whose ability to reason is healthy.
When too many people are “of the opinion” that having more than they need is okay, or that destroying the environment is a necessary evil toward obtaining natural resources, or that money is more important than ecological equilibrium, or that war is the only way to maintain peace, then reason has been abandoned, the consequences will be unhealthy, and accountability is the only way to open people’s eyes. As Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Immoral movers can be sinister and greedy and harbor the more typical characteristics of evil, but more often than not they are everyday people caught in the throes of an immoral system. Even good, well-intentioned people, can be fooled by immoral systems. As is sadly evident the world over. Where the moral mover clings to the fixed state of being “good” for a “good” cause, the immoral mover clings to an immoral system out of comfort, laziness, and apathy. Both can be reconciled by either side digging deep and discovering their amoral side.
The Amoral Side
“He is a hard man who is only just, and a sad one who is only wise.” ~ Voltaire
The amoral side gets done what’s needed for the greater good (despite religion and politics), in the moment, be it healthy or unhealthy, sustainable or not, moral or not. The amoral mover is simply responsible with the consequences. They scoff at black and white, inside-the-box thinking by obliterating the box and revealing that everything is really just a washed-out, ever-changing, mysterious middle gray.
While the moral movers are preaching love and tolerance, and the immoral movers are preaching hate and intolerance (or just ignorance), the amoral movers are changing the way the game is played by playfully using all sides against each other, or even mocking it all with a sense of humor and a general disposition that never takes itself too seriously. The amoral mover disrupts all too-serious movers by injecting a bomb-effect of sincere humor into their self-serious paradigms.
“We need a kind of thinking that enables groups with conflicting moralities to live together and prosper. In other words, we need a meta-morality. We need a moral system that resolves disagreements among groups with different moral ideals, just as ordinary first-order morality resolves disagreements among individuals with different selfish interests.” ~ Joshua Greene
While the moral and immoral movers are obsessed with observing rules or keeping their head down, the amoral movers are busy undermining rules and subverting immoral systems into a healthier advantage. They reveal how groups of people with conflicting ideals can still live together as long as freedom is maintained. Their amoral middle ground resolves the conflict between people with different ideological dispositions by revealing that the futility of the human condition is that it is constantly changing and can never be fixed.
By revealing how all seeming fixed-states are really just masked free-states, the amoral mover shines a humbling gray light on the parochial black-and-white issues of the human condition. And when we can use this realization to keep things into perspective, the human species just might be able to attain a future meta-morality in a world where peace is never assumed to be maintained by war, where poverty is never assumed to be a result of scarcity, and where greed is never confused with prestige and power.
If any movement can achieve such a state, it is the Amoral Movers and their ability to maintain the balance between opposites. As Louis G. Herman said, “When individuals try to balance self-interest with a consideration of the bigger picture, they discover, as Socrates did, that deep self-interest actually includes concern for the good of the whole.”