If you had to choose between them...

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would you betray your friend or betray your country?

Friend
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Country
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Yarn
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Post by Yarn »

Think about it. What if you "betrayed" your country by, say, giving information to some tree dwelling subspecies of American Terrorists, who planned on a major city bombing. And some hunch-backed elder aproached you, and gave you the choice "You must give those bad, bad, men vital information, and aide them in the the Oklahoma City bombing #2 . . . or shoot your friend over there". This clearly only effects a very small portion of Americans, but still, you would choose to betray your "country" over your friend? Don't worry though guys, this was only hypothetical.
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aj
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Post by aj »

what if your friend could have aided you in preventing said terrorists from their tree dwelling scheming?

perhaps I've been reading too much dan brown and watching too many action movies, but in this particular scenario I would either give them false info or I would give them the info and then my friend and I would hatch a fantabulous plan involving lots of plotting, scheming, and action packed chase scenes and macguyver-like devices in order to save the world from evil.
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

aj wrote:but if you must betray one or the other, it is quite likely that your friends' values are in line with yours (huge generalization) and would agree with your choice.


Hmmm. I wonder. Very different people can be friends. I'll even confess to having *gasp* a very close friend who is one of those religious republican people. (And I mean religious, as in virgin at 27, as in signing emails with Bible verses, as in sending me horrible jesus-rock.) But I care about her, and I know I can depend on her, and I respect her values even though they aren't the same as mine.

And even without such a contrast of values, how frequently do you really feel the same degree of passion for a particular cause that your friend does? Would you be willing, say, to become a fugitive and give up everything you know? To leave behind your family and other friends for a cause?
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aj
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Post by aj »

funny. the reason I inserted "huge generalization" in that comment is because I have a friend exactly like yours. EXACTLY. the thing about this is she and I have a respect for eachother that is unlike most of my other friends. especially those that have similiar beliefs. we are incredibly open minded and respectful toward eachother and she wouldn't ask me to betray beliefs that are dear to me, even if she was on the opposite side of the debate. so really, we do have the same values-- but sometimes they are mirror opposites. perhaps that statement only makes sense to me.

this is why I would choose to betray my country. the friends I have (and I'm not using the term friend loosely here-- the ones with whom I have a serious understanding of and connection with) respect who I am and would not ask me to betray something I felt strongly about. I would not betray them, because they respect me and vice versa. my country will always ask me to betray myself, others, my beliefs, in order to sacrifice for an unknown (and sometimes known) "greater good." Respect is ALWAYS a two-way street for me and while it would be nice to believe that my country has respect for me, I am doubtful. I believe it is situational and therefore, not respect at all.
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

I've been thinking about what you've said here. I think it's a very noble sentiment. I just don't think that I would be able to live up to it.

I know my friend respects me, but I also know, because she truly believes, that she secretly hopes that I will someday accept jesus into my life and be saved. And although I respect her choices, I secretly wish she'd relax a bit so she could have a relationship with a sane person and a chance at happiness.

The point is, while her intentions are good, her beliefs don't really coincide with democracy. She believes in absolutes and has clear Bible-defined answers to complex questions. It's not inconceivable that she could passionately support or act on, say, something that has dire consequences on a woman's right to choose.

When I think about situations like that, I wonder if it really matters that the mass of faceless men and women who would be affected respect me or not.
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aj
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Post by aj »

but our country is made up of millions of her. only they don't all actually follow through with their beliefs, they think think that she is living the kind of life that we all should and she should be actively trying to save you.

I realize it may sound foolish to make this statement without even having a hypothetical situation to discuss, but I still stand by the friend, especially when speaking of a serious definition of "friend."

perhaps the leo loyalty thing is just way out of control in my personality. I just think there's a much greater return when loyal to your friends than loyal to your country. its actually a very selfish thing.
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aj
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Post by aj »

and it kind of sounds like you don't completely trust this particular friend. so maybe she's not the friend you would betray your country for. maybe she's not the kind of "friend" that I think is intended by the statement.

or maybe I'm adding my own little definition where they are not intended. that is entirely possible. and quite likely.

I think "friend" is thrown around like "love". I love a lot of people and have a lot of friends, but when it gets right down to it, and when I'm speaking in my terms and not the language of the general public, friend and love are words that I tend to add a lot of weight to. I wish there were more ways to define love and friend and snow. english fails me sometimes.
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

aj wrote:and it kind of sounds like you don't completely trust this particular friend. so maybe she's not the friend you would betray your country for. maybe she's not the kind of "friend" that I think is intended by the statement.

or maybe I'm adding my own little definition where they are not intended. that is entirely possible. and quite likely.

I think "friend" is thrown around like "love". I love a lot of people and have a lot of friends, but when it gets right down to it, and when I'm speaking in my terms and not the language of the general public, friend and love are words that I tend to add a lot of weight to. I wish there were more ways to define love and friend and snow. english fails me sometimes.


No. I don't agree at all. She's a real friend and I certainly trust her. But real friends can be wrong. And friendship doesn't mean loyally adhering to the choices of someone you love. In fact, part of the reason that our friendship is strong is because she challenges me.

She challenges me to constantly question and reasses the definition of "good". I trust her because she's completely honest with me but always kind. Because she holds me to standards of excellence because she believes in me, but she doesn't judge. In some ways, I trust her more than those whose values align more closely with mine simply because we diverge. In other words, we are great friends...but we don't always agree.

I know she gives sincere, intelligent thought to her decisions. But almost every issue comes down to an axiom. Hers is very often faith in god. And no, she isn't neglecting her duty to save me...she knows you can't force acceptence of god. She practices her faith with her whole heart and she greives for those who aren't saved, but she allows knows that faith is given to those who are willing and actively seeking god. (Can you tell I was raised Catholic or what? haha.)

If it's confusing things, you can take the relgious question out of it. Even within a more liberal set of values, you'll find people diverging. Do you value freedom or equality more? They don't always coincide. Would you compromise justice for peace? Would you compromise the rules for justice?

Now, if one of my friends came to me and said, "I'm gonna do something big. I need your help. You have to trust me." My first instinct is to trust them unequivably. (why am I thinking about Twin Peaks and the Bookhouse Boys right now?)

But the question becomes difficult because humans are fallible...all of them. Part of friendship is knowing your friends have flaws, even glaring flaws, and loving them anyway. If I knew what it was, and I didn't agree with it. I would be forced to betray my friend. Sometimes, it's in thier best interest.
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Post by the hutch »

I viewed this from a different angle- were a friend of mine to choose to preserve her friendship with me by betraying our country, I wouldn't want the guilt that the negative repercutions would instill. That's in the case of a very palpable, quantifiable negative outcome, such as thousands of innocents dying. Of course, the outcome might be negligable, or subtle, or un-quantifiable. But one doesn't know when the choice is put before them, I guess.

Now, pose the question as betraying country vs betraying one's own children, and the country will lose every time.
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aj
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Post by aj »

the close friends I have are part of my family. I mother them. Even when I don't want to and they don't need it. I may never do the whole traditional family thing. so when I refer to friends I mean the people that are like family to me.

I don't think we're disagreeing, we just have a different way of defining the terms. how many friends would you say you have? I would count only my closest in terms of this discussion.



But the question becomes difficult because humans are fallible...all of them. Part of friendship is knowing your friends have flaws, even glaring flaws, and loving them anyway. If I knew what it was, and I didn't agree with it. I would be forced to betray my friend. Sometimes, it's in thier best interest.


I don't believe my friends are more fallible than my country. at all.
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

aj wrote:I don't believe my friends are more fallible than my country. at all.


Reflecting, I would say that sometimes a thoughtful individual is right (Mr Thoreau) and sometimes the collective is right (Civil Rights). It just seems more likely to me that the collective, on the whole, would be more in check than the individual.

Of course, I am assuming a collective of thoughtful individuals and not taking into consideration mob mentality or manipulated masses (see: Fox News)

I guess when I think of my country, I think more of the Bill of Rights. Of the Declaration of Independence. Of Tocqueville's Democracy in America. I'm not talking about the Bush Administration for gosh sake.
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aj
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Post by aj »

no, I'm not necessarily talking about the Bush Admin either.

but there are millions of people supporting that admin.

I guess when I think about my country I think about all of the people that it is made up of, not necessarily the documents upon which it was founded. mainly because I think it is a very, very small minority that know anything about what the bill of rights, constitution, etc., say or mean.
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

Not just the Documents, but everything that makes America American. And the founding documents are an important part of American culture. Perhaps more so than in older countries who have seen multiple government types.

Maybe I'm naive, but I still beleive that the American people are good thoughtful people who belive in the basic tenents this country was founded on. I think we mostly agree. And I think the insanity that plagues us now is temporary.
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Post by aj »

I hope you're right.

but I'm afraid I don't have much faith.

the extreme capitalist nature of our country is why I would betray the whole for the sake of the individual, which is rather ironic. I am unimportant to the whole. the whole will betray me to benefit a few. every (wo)man for himself. I'll save me and mine.

that's way melodramatic. insert tragedy mask here.
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

See, I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with capitolism. I think capitolism is what preserves your ability to be an individual.

You aren't unimportant to the whole, you are part of the whole. And the whole is important to you. You depend on it and it made you who you are. It taught you your language, gave you your experiences, the input of others feeds you (even literally) on a daily basis. You would reject the whole thing for one friend? I'm not saying it's not the right decision sometimes, but it's a big one.
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aj
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Post by aj »

but there isn't anything inherently wrong with most things. it is in the practice of theory where the failure tends to lie.

it could also be said that the things I have learned and experiences that have affected me most were made possible by the individuals who are closest to me and have cared the most for me, many of those being friends. this country is incredibly divided. I don't think people really care that much for those outside their groups and that is the one thing that unites us all-- the struggle for individuality (mostly group individuality) and the willingness to step upon others in order to gain different types of individuality.

americans tend to think of their families or groups as little islands. its as if they do not see a whole, or see their particular group as better than the other parts of the whole.

for instance, I've heard a number of people say to me "after you get married and have kids you'll be a lot more conservative." this angers me. people get married and have kids and that is a license to not give a fuck about the other people in the world. you become your own little island in your own little house and acquire all sorts of things and care only about those who live on your island (I am not saying all people who are married and have kids do this. but damn, there's an awful lot of em).

I believe it is capitalism that encourages this behavior. capitalism is about competition and aquisition. it's not a game that starts everyone at $1500. its not a game that you can win by caring about your fellow humans. its not a game that makes exceptions for those who are discriminated against. the whole does not care about me and if that is what the whole is about, I do not care about it.
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

what's the better alternative?
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aj
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Post by aj »

I was away from internet for a long time.

and now I'm not really in this conversation anymore.

what works? in practice? nothing. not that I know of.

I'll think of something and implement that. getting right on that...
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Betty Felon
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Post by Betty Felon »

hahaha. Yeah, my answer was a cop out. I admit it. I just found myself defending points I dont necessarily agree with.

However, sometimes I think wonderful passionate lefties can be a little too hard on the American system. They fail (or refuse) to recognize the wonderful things this country has accomplished. Of course, the Bush administration is hard at work leaving the good work of the last century in shreds.

Capitolism is a very good economic system, when used properly. Everything corrects itself and no one gets away with too much for long. The problem, however, is that it doesn't really care that human lives are at stake and in the meantime, people suffer.

As far as comsumerism goes...that's a sticky problem. It involves media manipulation and general shortsightedness on the part of the consumer. No one is forcing anyone to buy from Wal Mart, so why are they? Why do we buy a ton of crap we don't need?
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Liesbeth
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Post by Liesbeth »

nice one, trying to take capitalism and consumerism apart, but I'm not sure it's that simple. The capitalist economic system is dependent on growth, and that inspires agressive marketing which tricks people into buying more and more. If all consumers decided overnight to stop acting on their buying impulses, the capitalist system would crumble. I'm not very afraid that this will actually happen, because people are pretty greedy and short-term thinkers.

If you say that capitalism is a good economic system which corrects itself, when is it going to start correcting the devastating impact it has on the natural environment?

Who am I to say that over 1 billion Chinese or Indian people (well, perhaps only 10%, but that's still 100 million people in either country) shouldn't see their wealth increase like the do at the moment. But if the whole world wants to reach the level of affluence that the West has right now, then nature will take its toll soon enough.

Capitalism may be effective in bringing wealth, but I don't see how it can be sustainable in the long run. What would be the alternative? A strong reduction in affluence, a system based on balance rather than growth. Which is something most of us (I would include myself) don't really want to think about, and consumerism is a great aneastetic.
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