It's Not Easy Being Sensitive

Why would I write a post about my philosophy of hand-washing?

It is not impossible to waste thought. It is. Some things aren't worth thinking about at length. But it's the "at length" that's key. Everything is worth thinking about. Not because all things are complex, or profound, or multi-faceted, or whatever other variation on the idea of complicated you can come up with. It is because all things are consequential; nothing is inconsequential. There is nothing morally neutral: every thing, every action, is either for good or for evil. Or a little both. Or a lot of both. So you'd better know which is which. And which is which in your hands.

Good grammar can be used for good or evil. Bad grammar can be used for evil or good. "Good" and "evil" are meaningless without the presence of person. An apple is neither good nor evil. But an apple in an equation involving a person cannot help but have a moral weight. There is no equation involving personal action that is morally neutral; it all has weight and meaning.

It is impossible to waste action. Even sitting still to think requires me to sit still, not an insignificant action. If all action has meaning, all thought must at least have the significance of being potential fuel for good or evil. It is possible to waste thought so far as it is possible to be morally irresolute. Havering in a moment requiring a display of physical courage  is, in one sense, a waste of action. But that waste itself has a moral weight. There are no weightless thoughts if there are no weightless actions.

This is just my long-winded way of saying that you should pay attention! If you're spending twenty hours a week playing XBox, you'd better have a good reason for it. I say that as a man who spent an unspeakable number of hours on this game; I am not a model of this good behavior, I only explain it so that you understand some of my actions. If you have a good reason for spending so much time playing video games, then playing video games that long is good.

If we are to evaluate every single action morally (this ought not to be burdensome; it ought to be simply human), we must be sensitive. Or sensible. Depending on how you define those words.

Every man ought to be sensitive, if by that we mean alert, responsive, and affective. But we cannot mean cast about by every wind.

Every man ought to be sensible, if by that we mean cognizant, keenly aware. But we cannot mean non-committal.

Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, know why you do it. Know what you do it for. I've been asked more than once why I have an opinion about everything. This is why. I don't want to do a single thing without having some idea why. And I don't apply to myself the pressure of having to be sure. That's the non-committal version of sensible; I simply want to have considered everything I possibly can without slowing or avoiding the moment of action.

That's the reason I probably don't disagree with your different opinion: you're trying to do something else with the situation. Having an opinion about everything, I believe, is a good thing. Being an ass**** is not. I must have the sensibility to realize that I'm operating on a lot of contingencies; I'm acting from imperfect knowledge and will.

If I do disagree with you, there's still no disrespect intended. I could be very wrong, but I cannot be paralyzed by that thought. I ought to do what I believe to be good. And if you're doing evil, I might not even hate you, even as I oppose you; I might even believe that you believe you're doing good.

There are only two whom I hate. The one who actively and consistently seeks evil, the one with no glimpse of grace, that is, the one who is evil. And the one who is thoughtless, who takes this world of things and deeds and acts as if it is meaningless, that is, the one who is evil; this one is the scourge of this age.

We must all be keenly aware. We must all the responsive. It is this that combats the leeching holocaust of unspeaking neighbors.

We pay attention to every little good. When we bake. When we eat. And when we go to the bathroom. We cannot expect to do the great deeds, to fight the great fights, or sail the great seas until we have passionately thrown ourselves at the lesser deeds.


  1. I stumbled across this googling "it's not easy being sensitive." I like this. A lot. Good work.

  2. Thanks very much. I hope you come back soon!

  3. [...] You must always have a reason why. God prohibited false witness. There’s a why for that. The lake of fire is reserved for liars. There’s a why for that. God praised the Hebrew midwives. There’s a why for that. You should know those whys. [...]


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