|A very great many people have a mixture of both good and bad premises. By and large, the more closely their ideas and principles are tied to people immediately around them and to their direct efforts to live their lives, these ideas and principles tend to be good, at least in the more civilized societies. Most people want to treat the people they know decently and they generally do feel an obligation to earn their values in trades with those they know. The breakdown tends to come when they consider ideas put into operation through several layers of intermediate groups of people. For instance, we know few people who will rob us, but many more people who will encourage a government to rob us, usually in the name of the need of others than themselves. Most people are ashamed to plead directly to their friends for financial help, but some may eagerly take a hand-out from the government and others of them are quick to assume that while they would not want a hand-out, others would. It is easy to despair of the failure of people to live up to their own very local level principles when they deal with people at a distance. This discrepancy suggests that they are more confused than evil in intent, however.|
Think of the people you know who believe in God, believe that everyone has a right to food and shelter, believe that sex is a necessary evil, believe homosexuals are evil, think that only government can educate our children, believe that heroism is the equivalent of self-sacrifice, and many other very wrong things. Yet, many of these people seem to behave very rationally as co-workers or as neighbors. Somehow, they know not to apply most of their wrong ideas to very many of the practical tasks of life. As co-workers, they may work hard and intelligently. They may bring skills and experience to the job that we do not have. As neighbors, they take in our child when she is locked out and let her call us at work. They run to stop the bully from beating up the younger children or carry a hurt child home to you. They watch over your home when you are gone and may feed your cat. They will loan you a ladder. Generally, if you talk to them, you can find that there are some things most anyone knows that you do not know. Aren't these the same people who first defeated Hitler and then faced down Communism around the world?
It makes sense to look for the good in people and to maximize your interactions with them in those compartments of their lives in which they are good. Of course, we often need to walk a different path on many issues, but it is more bearable to live with others, as we generally must, when we evaluate them in the full context of their lives. While they may do many things other than we would, they still have values to offer us. Among other things, consider the rapid progress in just the last 200 years in clothing, housing, transportation, medicine, materials, electronics, communication, clean water and sewage systems, garbage disposal, electric power, gas distribution, the internet, retail sales, warehousing, science, and a host of other areas of human endeavor. Those very same neighbors and people much like them, who cause us so much despair, have played a role in producing this progress. We should keep the context of this contribution to modern civilization in mind.
Of course, it would be delightful to have SOLOists living next door and as co-workers! But, if it were not for some of the other often wrong-headed individuals around us, we would not be in contact via SOLO HQ. We might be riding across country on horseback to visit one another. No, no we would not. We would not even know where each other was. Context, context is everything when evaluating such complex issues.