Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Self-Mutilation is Evil

Bruce Charlton posted this over on his blog. The title is Deliberate self-mutilation is an evil. At first the message seemed self-righteous and I was prepared to dismiss it, but, the more I thought about how I really felt, the more I agreed.

All forms of tatoo, piercing, plastic surgery, etc have always seemed inherently wrong to me. I could not articulate the reason and never really had a reason to think deeply about it until now. Here is part of Charlton's article.


If someone was to spray-paint Durham Cathedral with graffiti, or slash all the best paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, or blast a Vuvuzela during the climax of a great operatic performance - we would (or, at least ought to) recognize these as evil acts in their varying degrees; as destructive the Good.

We should not be distracted because deliberately wrecking Great Art, deliberately marring beauty, is somehow 'not as bad' as torturing or killing - wrecking Great Art is bad: that is the point. 

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The same applies to the human face and body - deliberately to mutilate the human face and body is bad, is destructive of Good, is evil.

It is an act of desecration - a vandalism of sanctity.

And this is an objective fact - not a matter of opinion.
What he writes here makes sense to me. The act does seem wrong and like a desecration yet I know people who see their tatoo as something of beauty. I do not know how to reconcile that in my mind. I just know that unless the activity was to restore the body to its original state, for example, reconstructive surgery after an accident, that it just feels wrong to engage in deliberate self-mutilation. More reasons from Charlton on why it is wrong and evil.

(As we all covertly recognize: our very viscera inform us of the fact.)



Even worse when the mutilation is permanent, scarring, cannot be undone.

Even worse when the mutilation is proudly advertized - so that others may be exposed to the act of evil; challenged to accept it, encouraged to emulate it.

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Even worse when mutilation is normalized - brought into desirable situations in art, TV, movies, drama, news - into cultural institutions; into situations where the mutilation is accepted - perhaps after a struggle, or in face of ignorant hostility and prejudice - or simply made part of the background, assimilated unconsciously.

This is propaganda for evil - and far worse than oneself sinning (sin is inevitable in fallen Men; but the propagation - by favorable association, advertisement, by normalization - of sin is a voluntary act of  strategic evil).

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Evil cannot be undone, but it can be repented.

However, only at the cost of Pride.

Advertizing, normalizing, boasting of sin is a highly regarded activity in the modern world - by contrast it is regarded as evil to point-out sin, to reject sin, to say that a sin is bad and should elicit shame rather than admiration - because to do so is hurtful - humiliating, even.

But repenting evil hurts, it ought to hurt - it reduces one's self-esteem and status among others to say 'I made a mistake, I did a bad thing'.
He is right that repenting hurts. Is that the reason people stick with wrong acts because to acknowledge the wrong hurts too much? Is it too hard to admit I was wrong and easier to stay wrong? This could be applied to other actions we take. Do I find it easier to defend a previous wrong or evil act than to admit I was wrong to begin with and repent?

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