The Temptation of moralism


I have often harmed people in my desire to do good. Here is a perhaps familiar  scenario: a friend goes through various problems and confesses them to me. I feel as if I am one with my friend (didn’t Aristotle say that a friend is an alter ego?), but also untouched directly by his problems, so in a sense objective. I perceive that I have the capacity to see the source of his misfortunes. Wishing his well-being, so in the name of the good, I perform a cleansing, just like a doctor would extract the cancer: I expose the disease and tell him what to do to get rid of it. And this gives me joy, because I feel as if I contribute to my friend’s, and by consequence the world’s, well-being. But I soon discover that my friend lies dead next to me, under the heavy blow of my “healing” words, which were perceived by him as just as many hammers.

Is it possible to harm when one’s words come out of love?

Perhaps when love is not perfect. And love is not perfect when it is mine or when I consider that I am the source of it. Can I be the one who heals my brother?

Once, I heard someone say this, “Lord, deliver us from those who want to fix us!”

Terrible thing, really, to want to fix the world or one’s peers–the manifestation of the devil in history.



About Tavi's Corner

Blogging on ancient philosophy, communist persecution in Romania (including deportation to Siberia), and Orthodox Christianity. I've translated books from Romanian to English, and I also write about them from time to time.
This entry was posted in Orthodoxy, Philosophy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Temptation of moralism

  1. You have described this phenomenon so well, exposing our pure and impure motives that seem often to be mixed. Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kyanaNell says:

    If the message is given in love, then the love is never lost. It is hard to cleanse oneself of things taught to us through experience. So the message is pure even if the person views it as harmful. I would hope that they could see the intent (love) behind the words and take whatever they need from your message.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s