Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Morality of Succeeding

It’s interesting to point out that those who “fortune favored” come from an array of socio-economic backgrounds and take the initiative through a variety of mechanisms. There’s Mahatma Ghandi who took a spiritual route in order to stir up civil disobedience while on the other side of the world, President Nixon greedily horded power and cash at the Watergate Hotel. Back in the 1940’s, whole nations took the political stance by opening their doors up for the exiled Jews while Hitler took a different political initiative by committing inhumane crimes. What all these groups have in common is that they were “bold.” They took affirmative political action in order to rise above the others.
But on the other hand, it’s important to note that the means in which they were bold is what really matters. When relating to the initial blog question, yes, it is good advice to take a political position. But what is not explicitly addressed is the means in which one executes this advice. If Machiavelli were to answer this question, he would have no remorse when stating that an individual must be ruthless and selfish in order to come out on top. A ruler should not be generous in public for that could only lead to one’s destruction. A ruler should create an initial list of people who must be obliterated for they pose as a threat to the kingdom. He writes, “So you see, a wise ruler cannot and should not keep his word when doing so is to his disadvantage…you need not keep faith with men.” But is this right?
What tripped me up when answering this question was not if it is good advice but how is it good advice. There’s a moral component that many seem to neglect when viewing this question. Is it morally right to succeed through evil ways? Is it fair that fortune favors those who committed wrong doings? In our world today, we tend to boil with rage when we see political leaders rise through their sins, and feel that it’s unfair. Thus, when viewing Machiavelli’s advice from this perspective, it’s important to note this difference and understand the morality behind fortune having its effects.

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