Mike Kueber's Blog

March 22, 2014

Aphorism of the Week #18 – Your right to swing your arm ends just where the other man’s nose begins

Filed under: Aphorism — Mike Kueber @ 1:32 pm
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Last week, after yoga class, I had a philosophical discussion with a classmate about a friend who seems excessively judgmental about other people.  Ironically, both my classmate and my friend are Jesuit schooled.

During the discussion, my classmate pointed out that we all find certain characters and conversation to be intolerable and disgusting (e.g., racist rants), but I countered that I was generally able to engage in civil conversation with anyone without being repulsed (even a tree-hugger or silk-stocking liberal).  That is why I so readily and frequently ignore the proscription against discussing politics or religion.

Upon further reflection, however, I told my classmate that I am repulsed by elitist snobs, and that fact forced me to climb down from my high horse.

In a similar vein, this week there has been a lot of chatter on Facebook about the death of Fred Phelps, a hateful anti-gay radical whose death seemed paradoxically to bring out joy and bitterness from the same people at the same time.  Their vituperative venom prompted me to climb back up on my horse with the following comment:

  • A Supreme Court justice once said, ‘Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.’  I find it easier to accept people who have screwed up beliefs than it is to accept people who act on those beliefs.  I haven’t followed the career of this guy, but if his actions are limited to preaching within the law, then I will not waste any bitterness on him.  I will save my bitterness for those who physically violate others.”