Anti-Manipulation VI : Morality disguised as Enslavement Brainwashing
This is not victory. “Victory” is changing the hearts of your opponents; through gentleness, through kindness.
Despite being about love, this is one of the most infamous Civilization 6 quotes. This message is spoken by the Saladin, when he is eliminated from matches. In game, Saladin is known for his regular Holy Wars against other AI and the player themselves. For the online community, Saladin’s hypocrisy in speaking about gentleness/kindness but in action, using wars to prevent others from prosperity has earned the ire and disgust of many players.
However this mismatch between what Saladin preaches and what he does is not exclusively alone to him. There are many individuals in society who preach about doing the “moral” choice but themselves do not or do the opposite. These hypocrites are not really interested in actually living a moral life based on their spoken standards. What they’re really after is trying to manipulate you into doing something they believe in or doing their bidding. Understand that living a “moral” life requires personal sacrifice, dedication and commitment. These efforts are not easily to live by, and only the most self-disciplined individuals are capable of carrying out. These manipulators are interested getting others to doing the hard work, and hoping to benefit from other people’s labour.
Morality itself is a weapon, specifically a form of propaganda. Just as military power uses fear to intimidate, financial power to buy allegiances, morality employs guilt to control people. Often this strategy to influence other people is to inflict (preach) morality onto them, so they can be susceptible to guilt trips. People genuinely want to be perceived by themselves and others as “good”, and moral education takes advantage of this weakness.
Reversal: Countering Moral Education
Individuals who are genuine about their morality will live that way through their actions and the sacrifices they make for themselves and the world. Their actions and achievements have a stronger effect on people than words alone. Why? Because people are better convinced through actions not words. Hence when someone tries to educate you on morals, ask them to set the example first. If they offer you an excuse/rationalization for not doing so, then it is mere hypocrisy. They do not personally believe in their own morality and is merely trying to manipulate you to do what they want.
The ultimate purpose of morals are meant to benefit you and the world as a whole. There are certain morals that are only meant to only help you or only help society. You yourself must determine which decision to choose that maximize the benefits, minimize the costs and creates a benefit-cost balance between you and the world. These wise and wiser decision making comes to you with age, maturity and proactive knowledge-seeking.
However when making any decision that involves morals, understand the “rational” choice may not be the choice people like. People are emotional beings and parties that are affected to a choice will protest. It is not possible to please everyone. There are situations where it is not possible to do the rational/moral choice, only the “least harmful” choice.
Let’s take the example of the famous medical drama House season 7 episode 2 Selfish. A teenage girl needs a lung transplant but is unable to find a donor. If she does not receive a transplant, she will soon die. Her wheelchair-bound brother can be a donor but doing so would significantly reduce his remaining life span.
Choice A : Donate the lung. The teenage girl lives to old age. The brother dies in a few months.
Choice B: Do nothing. The teenage girl dies in 1 day. The brother dies in a few years.
From a logical perspective, choice A may seem ideal. In the episode, the parents of the episode chose choice B. What would you do in this decision, especially if you were the brother or the sister?