Where There’s a Will

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October 16, 2013 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas

Why?  This is a question that has both intrigued and haunted humanity since our inception.  Why are we here?  Why do I do the things I do?  Why doesn’t she love me?  Why do I feel this way?  These are all examples of such paradigm.  But when it comes to answering any question that begins with “why” the most important component thereafter is justification.  The answer supplied has to provide a feeling of justification in order to satisfy the question itself.  That’s why “because” or “to fuck and not die” is, for most people, not a suitable answer to the question “why are we here”.  We feel as though these answers which may very well be possible, aren’t satisfactory because they don’t justify themselves.  The answer doesn’t oblige the question enough to justify itself as a viable answer; it only raises the question of an addition “Why?”.  As humans we inherently need to have the “why” satisfied in a way that makes us feel satisfied.[1]

Without a doubt the best, worst, and most dangerous feeling to ever feel is a feeling of justification.  Being justified, or better yet, feeling as though you are justified is made up of two components: 1) a feeling of dessert-that you deserve something, and 2) a feeling of being in the right.  The biggest source of motivation is feeling justified, it’s the reason why religion and politics have flourished in society, along with being the biggest reason why we go to war.  No one would wage war for no reason, nor would they believe something without justification.  Even in the case of the Crusades, when war was waged to reclaim the Holy Lands, it was merely a guise for the real reason: to capture trade routes and material gain in the Middle East.  It was an atrocious reason to wage war, especially in the name of God, but material gain was all the reason that European powers need because they felt they deserved it and that they were in the right.

No one would do something if they didn’t feel as if they were in the right.  That’s why terms like the “Evil Empire” or “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” always struck me as being unamusing and counterintuitive.  If we take evil to be the antithesis of good, which is synonymous with right, wouldn’t that automatically imply that those who label themselves as “evil”, inherently understand themselves to be in the wrong?  Since that would be the case, they have absolutely zero justifiable reasons to do whatever it is they are being.  Whoever it is that is doing the evil act would have to have no conscience of the negative implication of their actions if they are to commit them sincerely and wholeheartedly.  If that were the case then they would have no need for the “evil” moniker since they are merely adhering to their own code of morals, however twisted they may be.  This is why Dr. Doom and Magneto are some of the best villains to ever be introduced in American pop culture.  Both men have not only a motive, but a very profound, and somewhat arrogant sense of justifiability in their actions which allows them to commit sinister deeds without actually acknowledging their own wickedness.

Since 1945, the ultimate expression of pure evil is Adolf Hitler; bar none he is the face of absolute evil and malice.  Even though others have killed more people (Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin), or killed more people per capita (Pol Pot) or killed more people per year in power (Efrain Rios Montt and Hideki Tojo), it’s Hitler who is evil incarnate.  The reason why is because there doesn’t seem to be any motivation or any real semblance that the Nazis even justified it to themselves.  As far as we know,  the Nazis just decided on a whim who fit their definition of “superior” and then massacred everyone who did not fit that narrow definition.  Because of the scale and the lack of any discernible rationale the national socialist party is responsible for the death of over 12 million innocent souls.  Now, whatever the reason for committing genocide is, or any crime for that matter, it doesn’t have to satisfy us, all it has to do is satisfy and create a feeling of self-justification for the perpetrator.  They have to believe that what they are doing is the right course of action, because Nazi Germany didn’t have this, they become the ultimate manifestation of evil.[2]  For something as organized and destructive as the Holocaust, the fact that no motive or justification however grotesque and alarming it would have been was never provided, it compounds on the initial horror of it all.

How this differs from the Khmer Rouge or Joseph Stalin is that the most frequented answer for their crimes against humanity was that it was random.  On his death bed, Pol Pot essentially said that he targeted anyone whom he deemed a threat, regardless of if they were or not.[3]  Moments later he said that he had no regrets over the course of his life and that he would do it all over again.  Not only was he patting himself on the back for slaying almost 2,000,000 million innocents but he was expressing a sense of self-justification that allowed him to commit these abominable acts in the first place.  It was destruction for the sake of destruction which we accept as crucial aspects of all dictatorships, which for us as civilians is all we need to categorize every other monstrous act as being distinct from the Holocaust, where no discernible or viable answer was provided.  Not only could we not come up with a way to even fathom how something like that could have happened, but those for orchestrating these horrific events failed to even attempt to justify themselves.  This is why the Holocaust will forever be an inexcusable and unforgiveable act.

On an individual (and less ominous) level, a feeling of justification is possible the strongest force in our day to day activities.  The simplest solution I can think of is writing this article right now.  I feel completely justified in my beliefs that they are both credible and deserving of explanation enough so to warrant their demonstration to other people.  The best examples unfortunately, though are when we want to hurt someone.  Because, and this is just what I believe, but it takes motivation to actually want to do wrong by something, and it takes the strongest form of motivation to knowingly want to do something that will hurt or upset someone else.  You have to.  The best way to hurt someone is to do something so sincerely and intently, more often than not it comes from a feeling of being justified in what you do.  The train of thought is that “whatever I’m doing this person deserves and even though they will be harmed by it, it’s still the morally right course of action.”  That’s when the sense of justification is at its strongest, when we consciously weigh out the factors of our decision and then analyze why we go through with it.

When we give ourselves justification, we implicitly answer the “why”.  We can say to ourselves with 100% conviction that the reason why is because of something that we can answer and more importantly, it’s an answer that we can believe and one that leaves us satisfied with the choice that we make.  To feel justified is in effect to wield absolute power because it grants us the motivation and provides us the reasoning to do something.  It explains what we are going to do, what we are going to think, but above all else, it tells us why we’re going to do it.  There’s no greater power than feeling that you are in the right; there’s no greater power than understanding the whys of life.


[1] This is the EXACT reason why I have yet to make peace with the fact that the Yankees lost the 2001 World Series.

[2] The best reason is that they were just “following orders”.

[3] This is also the same man who once ordered his police and military officials to shoot any intellectuals on sight.  According to Pol Pot, anyone who wore glasses was an intellectual.

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