Torture, torture, everywhere. How these boys do agitate themselves. Kantian Categorical Imperatives flying every which way. Pretty Lady felt so intimidated that she had to take a break. She is happy to report that the weather is preternaturally gorgeous today, and the sunny spot in the corner of the yoga studio was All Hers this afternoon.
So. Fortified by a series of pigeon poses, headstands, and a nice long soupdebadacanasana (or however you spell it), Pretty Lady pulled out her copy of Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Gracious. It has been awhile. Here we go:
This principle is therefore also its supreme law: Act always according to that maxim whose universality as a law you can at the same time will. This it the only condition under which a will can never be in conflict with itself, and such an imperative is categorical. Inasmuch as the validity of the will as a universal law for possible actions is analogous to the universal connection of the existence of things in accordance with universal laws, which is the formal aspect of nature in general, the categorical imperative can also be expressed thus: Act according to maxims whcih can at their same time have for their object as universal laws of nature. In this way there is provided the formula for an absolutely good will.There! I hope that's clear. At any rate it was the simplest and most self-explanatory passage that Pretty Lady could glean, after a cursory overview of the text.
When Pretty Lady first studied Kant, at the tender age of nineteen, all this stuff seemed to her to be simple and obvious. Of course one acts acccording to a maxim of universal will; that's what that pesky 'do unto others' rule is about. Quibbling over 'situational ethics' was decried as a feminine, and thus flaky, argument. All right for family politics, but death on the International Stage.
Thus she has been shocked--shocked!--to notice that some allegedly male persons of her acquaintance have been arguing quite seriously for the situational use of decidedly non-universally-willed tactics, i.e. waterboarding, dismemberment, the pulling out of toenails, and other things Pretty Lady has mercifully blocked from her consciousness. The universal maxim underlying these arguments, as far as she can tell, boils down to "It's okay to do bad things to bad people." Is that correct, boys out there? Hmmm?
It seems to Pretty Lady that other sets of Kantian boys have adequately dissected the hidden falsehoods and ungrounded assumptions underlying this argument. Some persons have been convinced. Others have not. Rest assured that Pretty Lady still loves everybody, no matter which side of the debate they come down upon, and that she has no intention of dredging up past disharmonies.
What seems to Pretty Lady to be the next obvious question is, "If it is NOT okay to do bad things to bad people, what do you do then? Particularly when situational circumstances are pressing and dire?"
It is a common characteristic of pressing, dire circumstances that they do not generally allow time for the whipping out of "Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals", perusal and analysis of such. The same goes for thick, legalistic documents issued forth by Congress, Holy Bibles, and the Bhagavadgita. Although she has known of some holy men who recite the entire Bhagavadgita every morning before breakfast, she feels that in general, this is an unreasonable requirement to add to the responsibilities of already-overloaded military personnel. No, dire circumstances require the ability to Think On One's Feet, in the moment.
In fact, a great many of the direst of circumstances allow, literally, no time to think at all. To further complicate matters, devotees of chaos theory will no doubt know that the most negligible of actions can have the most extreme and unpredictable of long-term consequences. Dire circumstances are, by their nature, chaotic. Not meaning to make any of you feel stressed-out or pressured in any way, of course.
So what it boils down to is this: when making ethical decisions under conditions of maximum stress, the best thing to do is consult a decision maker who knows the entire set of conditions, involving all parties concerned--past, present, and future--and the most intimate and far-reaching outcomes of all possible decisions. This decision maker should be able to think through all ramifications, select the best action to perform, and communicate this action, instantaneously. Right now. En este momento. Ya.
In other words, one must create a miracle. This may sound deeply unreasonable and feminine, but in the circumstances it is about as reasonable as Kant.
Many persons have, in the past, gotten up in arms with Pretty Lady when she claims to hold daily conversations with God. They believe that this is arrogant and delusional of her; they thump their thick moral texts and tell her to pipe down. She has been accused of sorcery, psychosis, sabotage, flakiness and liberalism. Pretty Lady freely admits that her accusers may be correct; they must judge her, as the Bible says, by her fruits. If the following of Pretty Lady's advice creates chaos, misery, and discord, then, feel free to jettison it and burn her at the stake.
Friends, it is Pretty Lady's perhaps-delusional proposition that God, or the Holy Spirit, or prana, or whatever-you-may-call it, is speaking to us all the time, if only we listen. In general, a person cannot talk and listen at the same time. It is then reasonable to assume that if one is listening for the voice of God, one might wish to shut up for a second. That includes stopping the chatter within one's mind, as this is liable to be just as audible to God as otherwise.
This is not easy. Try it for a moment.
Pretty Lady has found, in the course of a lifetime of churchgoing, Bible reading, study of Kant, yoga, meditation, and sitting still near large bodies of water, that sometimes the Holy Spirit seems to get through. At these times, just about anything might happen. There might be a lot of light in her mind. She might suddenly, spontaneously understand French. She might find herself saying or doing any number of unpredictable things, acting on information only intuitively understood. She might get up and paint her living room a glowy yellow/brown. She might call up a friend and say 'I love you.' She might write a flippant little essay, or put her hands on someone's feet. The someone generally says, 'wow. That feels amazing.'
All this stuff, Pretty Lady thinks, is merely training. It is so that when circumstances become truly dire, she's got some practice in handing over the wheel. For as some Christian comedian says--'what's with those bumper stickers that say, "God is my co-pilot?" If God is in the car, Let. Him. Drive.'
So obviously it is completely unreasonable, ridiculous, and quixotic for Pretty Lady to tell all those stressed-out military personnel to stop torturing terrorists and let the Holy Spirit decide what to do with them. She is telling them anyway. The Holy Spirit gave orders this morning, and who is she to countermand them?