Deterrence is a parent of paradox. Conflict theorists, notably Thomas Schelling, have pointed out several paradoxes of deterrence: that it may be to the advantage of someone who is trying to deter another to be irrational, to have fewer available options, or to lack relevant information.
Consider a typical situation involving deterrence. A potential wrongdoer is about to commit an offense that would unjustly harm someone. A defender intends, and threatens, to retaliate should the wrongdoer commit the offense. Carrying out retaliation, if the offense is committed, could well be morally wrong. (The wrongdoer could be insane, or the retaliation could be out of proportion with the offense, or could seriously harm others besides the wrongdoer.)
The moral paradoxes of deterrence arise out of the attempt to determine the moral status of the defender's intention to retaliate in such cases. If the defender knows retaliation to be wrong, it would appear that this intention is evil. Yet such "evil" intentions may pave the road to heaven, by preventing serious offenses and by doing so without actually harming anyone.
Scrutiny of such morally ambiguous retaliation intentions reveals paradoxes that call into question certain significant and widely accepted moral doctrines. These principles are what I call bridge principles. They attempt to link together the moral evaluation of actions and the moral evaluation of agents (and their states) in certain simple and apparently natural ways. The general acceptance, and intuitive appeal, of such principles, lends credibility to the project of constructing a consistent moral system that accurately reflects our firmest moral beliefs about both agents and actions.
For a system of morality to reflect our firmest and deepest convictions adequately, it must represent a middle ground between the extremes.
~ Gregory Kavka
Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presence of the infinite, and becomes a pure thing. So our spirit before God, so our justice before divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion between our justice and that of God, as between unity and infinity.
The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the outcast is less vast, and ought less to offend our feelings than mercy towards the elect. We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there are so many things which are not the truth itself?
We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite, and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. Be we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because God has neither extension nor limits. But by faith we know His existence; in glory we shall know His nature. In other words, we may know the existence of a thing, without knowing its nature.
~ Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Sir Robert Boyle, born in 1627, is known as one of the first investigators into the physics of the atmosphere and the nature of heat, but his chief mission was to teach, by his example, the value of experiment in research, where he kept the humility of the true scientist always before him.
We are not always bound to reject everything as false, that we know not how to reconcile with something that is true. I have sometimes thought God and men enjoy truth as differently as they do time. For we men enjoy time but by parcels and always leave far the greatest part of it unreached by us; so we know but some particular truths, and are ignorant of far more than we attain to.
Whereas God, as His eternity reaches to all the portions of time, so His omniscience gives Him at one view a prospect of the whole extent of truth; upon which account He sees all particular truths, not only distinct, but in their system and sees a connection between those, that to us seemed the most distant ones.
We ought not always to condemn the opinion which is liable to ill consequences, and encumbered with great inconveniences. We must not expect to be able to resolve all difficulties, and answer all objections, since we can never directly answer those, which we require for their solution a perfect comprehension of what is infinite.
Sir Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
The source of humility is the habit of realizing the presence of God. Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself one way or the other at all.
Humility means that you feel yourself, as a distinct person, out of count, and give your whole mind and thought to the object towards which they are directed, to God Himself in worship and to the fulfillment of His will in Christian love; and humility, in that sense, is quite plainly a source of effectiveness. The humility which consists in being a great deal occupied about yourself, and saying you are of little worth, is not Christian humility. It is one form of self-occupation and a very poor and futile one at that; but real humility makes for effectiveness because it delivers a man from anxiety, and we all know that in all undertakings, from the smallest to the greatest, the chief source of feebleness is anxiety.
There is nothing big enough to hold a man's soul in detachment from the center of himself through all the occupations of life except the majesty of God and His love; and it is in worship, worship given to God because He is God, that man will most learn the secret of real humility.
~ William Temple, Christ in His Church
God made man in His own image. Whatever that means, it means that man is important to God and is responsible to God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God came to earth in the person of a humble carpenter, and thereby sanctified the individual. This means that what the individual believes, is, and does, counts...
We cannot foresee the results of our actions. It is our responsibility, not our helplessness, which appalls me... As each... goes out to industry...or university or family life, (his) influence, for good or bad, will radiate across the centuries. An act of kindness may help to mold a Gandhi, our failures may be creating a new Hitler.
The progress of mankind has always depended upon those who, seemingly isolated and powerless in their own day, have seen their vision and remained true to it. In the darkening corridors of time they preserved integral their vision of the daylight at the end. This is a matter not of calculation but of faith. Our work may be small and its results invisible to us. But we may rest assured it will come to fruition in God's good time.
~ John Ferguson, The Enthronement of Love
For the sake of general coherence, I think that we do have to make the assumption that whatever we know or think about is part of a more fundamental and broader actual reality that is not generated by thought.
We have been saying that thought does not cover everything; it is limited. Therefore we know of the world, there is always more. We find things that we did not know about, and we find things that contradict what we already know. This is a sign of reality that is beyond our knowledge, our will, our intention, and our desire, as well as being beyond what we have created.
The feeling that has arisen from the consideration of all this is that we exist in a vast, illimitable reality out of which we emerged, probably, as suggested by scientific evidence, through a process of evolution. But, of course, religious people say it came from God. Whichever assumption we make, we are here in this reality; we are participating in it.
~ David Bohm and Mark Edwards, Changing Consciousness
There is a general agreement, East and West, that life in a body provides uniquely good opportunities for achieving salvation or deliverance. Catholic and Mahayana Buddhist doctrine is alike in insisting that the soul in its disembodied state after death cannot acquire merit, but merely suffers in purgatory the consequences of its past acts.
But whereas Catholic orthodoxy declares that there is no possibility of progress in the next world, and that the degree of the soul's beatitude is determined solely by what it has done and thought in its earthly life, the eschatologists of the Orient affirm that there are certain posthumous conditions in which meritorious souls are capable of advancing from a heaven of happy personal survival to genuine immortality in union with the timeless, eternal Godhead.
And, of course, there is also the possibility (indeed, for most individuals, the necessity) of returning to some form of embodied life, in which the advance towards complete beatification, or deliverance through enlightenment, can be continued. Meanwhile, the fact that one has been born in a human body is one of the things for which, says Shankara, one should daily give thanks to God.
~ Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy
Your soul is not a passive or theoretical entity that occupies a space in the vicinity of your chest cavity. It is a positive, purposeful force at the core of your being. It is that part of you that understands the impersonal nature of the energy dynamics in which you are involved, that loves without restriction and accepts without judgment.
If you desire to know your soul, the first step is to recognize that you have a soul. the next step is to allow yourself to consider, "If I have a soul, why is my soul? What does my soul want? What is the relationship between my soul and me? How does my sol affect my life?"
When the energy of the soul is recognized, acknowledged, and valued, it begins to infuse the life of the personality. When the personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul, that is authentic empowerment. This is the goal of the evolutionary process in which we are involved and the reason for our being. Every experience that you have and will have upon the Earth encourages the alignment of your personality with your soul. Every circumstance and situation give you the opportunity to choose this path, to allow your soul to shine through you, to bring into the physical world through you its unending and unfathomable reverence for and love of Life.
~ Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul
A door opens in the center of our being and we seem to fall through it into immense depths which, although they are infinite, are all accessible to us; all eternity seems to have become ours in this one placid and breathless contact.
God touches us with a touch that is emptiness, and empties us. He moves us with a simplicity that simplifies us. All variety, all complexity, all paradox, all multiplicity cease. Our mind swims in the air of an understanding, a reality that is dark and serene and includes in itself everything. Nothing more is desired. Nothing more is wanting. Our only sorrow, if sorrow be possible at all, is the awareness that we ourselves still live outside of God.
For already a supernatural instinct teaches us that the function of this abyss of freedom, which has been opened out within our own midst, is to draw us utterly out of our own self-hood and into its own immensity of liberty and joy.
~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Justice as fairness begins with one of the most general of all choices which persons might make together, namely, with the choice of the first principles of a conception of justice which is to regulate all subsequent criticism and reform of institutions. Then, having chosen a conception of justice, we can suppose that they are to choose a constitution and a legislature to enact laws, and so on, all in accordance with the principles of justice initially agreed upon. Our social situation is just if it is such that by this sequence of hypothetical agreements we would have contracted into the general system of rules which defines it.
Moreover, assuming that the original position does determine a set of principles (that is, that a particular conception of justice would be chosen), it will then be true that whenever social institutions satisfy these principles these engaged in them can say to one another that they are cooperating on terms to which they would agree if they were free and equal persons whose relations with respect to one another were fair. They could all view their arrangements as meeting the stipulations which they would acknowledge in an initial situation that embodies widely accepted and reasonable constraints on the choice of principles. The general recognition of this fact would provide the basis for a public acceptance of the corresponding principles of justice.
No society can, of course, be a scheme of cooperation which men enter voluntarily in a literal sense; each person finds himself placed at birth in some particular position in some particular society, and the nature of this position materially affects his life prospects. Yet a society satisfying the principles of justice as fairness comes as close as a society can to being a voluntary scheme, for it meets the principles which free and equal persons would assent to under circumstances that are fair. In this sense its members are autonomous and the obligations they recognize self-imposed.
~ John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
We search for meaning, we search for belonging, and that means that we are all exploring God-territory. But that territory is so vast that you can go on forever and ever exploring one part of it and never meet other groups that explore other parts. There are certain crossroads where you choose to go in a certain direction. After that, you are not likely to reach the territory others are exploring who took a different turn.
One of those crossroads is the discovery that belonging is mutual. If we belong to God, God belongs to us; we are in a relationship. This is mysticism of course, but any one of us can experience it daily. God is related to us in a personal way. That's the experiential basis for the notion that God must have all the perfection that makes me a person and none of the limitations.
~ David Steindl-Rast, in Fritjof Capra, David Steindl-Rast
with Thomas Matus, Belonging to the Universe
Where there is mystery, there must be faith. Faith, you cannot change no matter how you look at it. Either you have it, or you don't. For us, it is very simple because our feet are on the ground. We have more of the living reality. There was a time when the Church had to show majesty and greatness. But today, people have found that it does not pay. They have found the emptiness of all that pomp so they are coming down more to the ground, and in coming down there is the danger that they are not finding their proper place.
God has created all things. All butterflies, the animals—the whole of nature He has created for us. To them God has not given the will power to choose. They have only an instinct. Animals can be very lovable and love very beautifully, but that is our of instinct. But the human being can choose.
That is the one thing that God does not take from us. The will power, the power to will. I want to go to heaven and I will, with the grace of God. If I choose to commit sin, that is my choice. God cannot force me to do otherwise. That's why when we become religious we give up that will power. That is why the sacrifice is so great: the vow of obedience is very difficult. Because in making that vow you surrender the only thing that is your own—your will power. Otherwise my health, my body, my eyes, my everything are all His and He can take them. I can fall, I can break, but my will power doesn't go like this. I must choose to give it and that is beautiful.
~ Mother Teresa, in Desmond Doig's
Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work
The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery—even if mixed with fear—that engendered religion.
A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.
I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifest itself in nature.
~ Albert Einstein, The World As I See It
Non-violence is not passivity in any shape or form. Non-violence is the most active force in the world. Non-violence is the weapon of the strongest and the bravest. The true man of God has the strength to use the sword, but will not use it, knowing every person is the Image of God. Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of humankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction.
Literally speaking, non-violence means not-killing...but it really means that you may not offend anybody... This is an ideal which we have to reach and it is an ideal to be reached even at this very moment, if we are capable of doing so. But it is not a proposition in geometry, it is not even like solving difficult problems in higher mathematics—it is infinitely more difficult...
You will have to pass many sleepless night, and go through many a mental torture, before you can even be within measurable distance of this goal... Under the rule of non-violence there is no room for organized assassination, or for murders openly committed, or for any violence for the sake of your country...or even for guarding the honor of people that may be under your charge... This doctrine tells us that we may guard the honor of those under our care by delivering our own lives into the hands of those who would commit the sacrilege. And that requires far greater courage than delivering blows.
~ Mahatma Gandhi (from Essays and Reflections on his Life and Work)
He who practices charity is not jealous, nor envious, neither does he speak evil of his neighbor. He does not rejoice at the fall of others; he does not incriminate the fallen, but he sorrows with him, and does what he can to comfort him. He/she does not pass by his brother/sister in hard times; but he/she helps them, and even dies with them.
He who performs charity does the will of God, and learns of Him; for our own good Master Himself said: 'By this shall all people know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.' He that has charity thinks no one a stranger; but he looks upon all men as his own kindred. He that has charity endures all things, is long-suffering, and kind to all... Truly may we say that 'God is love, and that he that dwells in love dwells in God.'
St. Ephraim Syrus (c. 306-73)
(from A Day Book from the Saints and Father, ed. J. H. Burn)