Foundation Blog
Disengagement Ethics Multiculturalism/Moral Relativism

The Pathological State of Mankind

In II Samuel 12:1-4, the prophet Nathan teaches the following parable:

There were two men in one city: the one rich, and the other poor. The Rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared; and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own morsel, and drink of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and it was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come unto him.

The emotions normally evoked by this parable are anger and compassion: anger toward the rich man, compassion for the poor man.

Suppose, however, that upon hearing Nathan’s parable, a person were to evince anger toward the poor man and compassion for the rich man. Surely, he would be consigned to a mental institution. A psychiatrist would no doubt regard the emotional reaction of this person—now his patient—as abnormal or utterly incommensurate with the events narrated in the parable.

But suppose the same patient were to express approval of the rich man. The psychiatrist might then conclude that his patient had an inverted sense of justice, of right and wrong—that his patient deemed injustice good and justice bad (an attitude discussed in Plato’s Republic).

Now suppose that the psychiatrist himself does not know whether injustice is good and justice bad, hence, whether it was right or wrong for the rich man to take the one little lamb of the poor man, Obviously such a psychiatrist would not know how to treat his patient.

Indeed, if the psychiatrist were a moral relativist, as so many are nowadays, he would have no more reason to regard his patient as a lunatic than himself! The word lunacy and the equivalent might then be stricken from the vocabulary of psychology, along with the entire language of morality.

Still, why is it normal to feel indignation toward the rich man and compassion for the poor man? The psychiatrist steeped in moral relativism could no more answer this question than the physicist can explain why the half-life of Carbon-14 is 5,692 years. The psychiatrist can study one country after another, and though he will probably find individuals comparable to the rich man of Nathan’s parable, the number will almost certainly be a minority of the population.

True, he may discover, in one nation, a majority supporting a foreign policy toward another nation that is analogous to the behavior of the rich man toward the poor man. This is precisely the case of virtually every nation in the world today—including the richest—toward Israel.

But wait! That is precisely the case of Israel’s own government when it expelled the Jews from Gush Katif! And so I ask: How can any decent person be a member of a party that committed this unspeakable crime? Woe unto our poor little lambs that have lost their way.

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