Monday, July 20, 2020


Any idealistic person, if they want people to follow a common standard more strictly, may really want the world to be a better place, and for people to benefit from compliance with the standard. But other people may not like to be called to such a standard, and will react by asking "Do you live up to that standard?"

Often, the idealistic person can't say that they do. But the standard is still good, and it would still be good if we all complied with it. And, we are likely to comply with the standard most if we consciously aspire to.

If your goal is to see the world be a better place through better behavior or attitudes, then you might ask "Do you live up to the standard?" of someone else who also had that goal, and they might say "no", but you would understand. You too know how hard it is to live up to the standard, and you would support them in pursuing the standard.

People who are not interested in seeing the standard met, whether because they prefer to be better than others (they find it relatively easy to meet the standard, so they don't value it, and they use the status of "compliant" against others, without doing the work to support their compliance), or because they don't value the outcome of the standard, or think it's not their responsibility, will say "Do you live up to the standard?" in a way that does not lead to people actually aspiring to the standard, and undermine the project of standard-compliance that a nation or subculture takes on.

If we understand standards as being things that are meant for a better world, that is better than seeing them as markers of moral status. To say "this behavior is right" can lend itself to the marker of moral status reading. And there are behaviors that are really right, and it's the truth to say that they are. But if we don't also understand that we are living for a world that doesn't exist yet, a truly good one, then right and wrong can become detached from that good world, and become either autonomous horrors or merely markers of the behavioral pecking order.

So we can remember Abraham, who had faith, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Faith in what? That a nation would come from him that would bless every family. The real blessing is for people to be right with God -- so, to be, in some ways, "perfect", to be true and pure. Abraham wasn't perfect. But he was living for a day when the world would be actually and fully good.

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