Being Obviously Callous

Given that Professor Pinker tells us our times are more peaceful than any since history began to be recorded, it is surprising how callous and angry some folks are. I refer here to events and to the way some people speak (especially in references to people, even children, connected with “public issues”).

In the heat of conflict, callousness may seem appropriate, even necessary for survival. Soldiers cannot cry over the deaths around them, at least during battle. But there are always limits. And ignoring these limits is vary poor conflict management strategy. We have a very good example from Ukraine today. Russian separatist fighters acquired some rather sophisticated surface to air missiles. They used one to take down a commercial airliner on the way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. I expect that they did not intend to kill innocents, especially so many who had no connection to the fighting whatsoever. But they did. And now we have this comment by a person (who did not know that he would be speaking to the world)

Fuck them. They should not fly, we are at war here.

Well, you get the point. The Russian separatists and their backers now have to deal with a global reaction. They have gone too far and spoken too harshly about going too far. The callousness — even if this is “war” — is “beyond the pale”.

In your daily affairs, it is a good idea to assess where these limits are. We are never free of them. Nor should we be, if we choose to be civilized.


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