They act as if there are absolutely no circumstances under which they should ever be imposed on. They exhibit sociopathic indifference to the needs of others.
There is, of course, a profound contradiction in their position. They think everyone should treat them with utmost deference even though they shouldn’t have to defer to anyone else.
How should we evaluate these responses? Should we take them at face value? Assuming they’re sincere, what accounts for this degree of moral pathology?
i) In some cases, I think people say things they don’t really believe. They make outrageous, irresponsible statements as long as the issue is safely abstract. If, however, they actually found themselves in that situation, some of them would come back down to earth in a hurry.
ii) However, it’s probably the case that many people really are that ruthless. How did we get to this point?
When things go wrong, liberals blame “the system.” They don’t think humans are innately prone to evil. It must be due to purely external factors. “The system” failed them.
By contrast, Christians think this is ultimately a problem of the heart.
iii) However, even though humans have a propensity for evil, that doesn’t mean social conditioning is irrelevant. The Bible also lays great emphasis on moral formation in childhood. Conversely, it describes dysfunctional societies. Given the human predisposition to evil, a morally deficient upbringing or other social forces can reinforce that prior disposition. So there’s nothing wrong with considering aggravating factors. Here are some possibilities.
iv) Traditionally, people grew up in large families. Extended families. Many siblings and relatives under one roof. Likewise, many people were poor.
As a result, you learned to share. You learned to sacrifice. You cared for your own. There was no alternative.
Nowadays, many people grow up in tight little nuclear families. Maybe one or two kids. Likewise, they’re often fairly affluent. The parents have their own bedroom. Each kid has his own bedroom. The kids get new clothes every year. No hand-me-downs. There’s no need to share. No need to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others.
v) Many teen dramas depict a eugenic utopia where everyone is young, strong, healthy, wealthy, and good-looking. A world of physical, material perfection. I wonder if that doesn’t subliminally foster intolerance towards the needy.
vi) I wonder if cellphones and emergency services haven’t bred a 911 mentality, where our notion of getting involved is limited to making a phone call.
vii) Rationalizing abortion has spawned many arguments that dissolve any sense of social responsibilities or parental duties. And this caters to people’s natural selfishness.
viii) In some cases, I think libertarian politics contributes to this outlook. Libertarians are justly fed up with government intrusion. As a result, they instinctively and viscerally react to any suggesting that gov’t should “force” us to do something.
That attitude is understandable and warranted to some extent. But it easily becomes an overreaction.