Agape & Nihilism: More Life and Times in Charleston, South Carolina

Radical, universal, unconditional love so intense that pedophiles and serial killers would be excitedly embraced. I remember a few years ago, in church, how we (the congregation) read from the paper folder which churches usually give their congregants and we collectively repented for the “sins of our youth”. This was curious as my youth had no sex, drugs, alcohol, vandalism, or anything else stereotypically bad. I had gotten in trouble for panic attacks, cutting myself, civil disobedience, and verbal and social media Asperger’s social mistakes which had offended people. While I had a bad relationship with the social mainstream and authority, I was not a deliquent in any traditional sense.

As I saw it, the adults of my Republican-dominated society were evil people who cut services for the weakest members of society, were actively trying to expand the sixth mass extinction, and judged the poor for having babies and doing cannabis while they did cocaine and got their mistresses abortions. To say I saw the authority class of the society I grew up in as morally bankrupt would be a gross understatement. I saw them as demonically evil. It is, to compare it to a hypothetical scene from the golden days of youth in revolt, the 1950s, telling the moral panickers over rock & roll “Okay, you jerk-off to Marylin Monroe and support nuclear war. I’m not going to respect you because you’re a morally bankrupt hypocrite.”

With the help of my Asperger’s, I went a little Diogenes on them. Inducing a little moral panic would, as I saw it, reveal their disgusting hypocrisy. They over-reacted in ways I did not aniticipate with dire consequences for my life but I do believe my point was ultimately made. It mostly involved things like openly talking about jerking-off which I saw as paling in comparison to their Xanax and vodka-fuelled one-night-stands. You see, I thought masturbation has less gravity than sex and talking about stuff has less gravity than doing stuff so compared to actually having sex, talking about masturbation should be almost nothing to people have have real sex. Instead of revealing their hypocrisy to them, they remained oblivious to their hypocrisy and became vigilantes who hunted me down for sadistic hazing on the pretext that I was a creep.

In one sense, I had feelings of nihilism toward social norms and social rules; in another sense, however, I had powerful moral convictions inside me that partially resulted from the normative void where social rules would otherwise be. I had come to believe that all social rules or any human-made rules were superfulous and that the only two moral laws one was required to follow were those of utilitarianism and the deontological principle of universal agape. That is that my only ethical and moral guidelines were to maximize human happiness, minimize human suffering, and foster human fraternity. I didn’t feel any guilt about the social rule I broke in the prior paragraph because that rhetorical taboo violated the Millian position on liberty.

While my moral code has slightly evolved since then, it has largely remained intact. It is a pretty good flow-chart to determine what is and isn’t moral. The most significant changes to my personal morality is that back then I took virtue ethics for granted and while I saw value in eudemonia, it wasn’t explicit. Also, while I had utilitarian beliefs in my mid-adolscence, I didn’t know who John Stuart Mill was so I would not have described anything I believed in as Millian. I didn’t get my beliefs from studying ethics, I got them from a relatively moderate and mild Christian upbringing, being raised on the political left, and what I deduced was the most rational form of ethics and morals. It was the answer I had reached after asking the questions of morality when the morality of my culture was empty and had led me to a degree of nihilism on account of the pervasive hypocrisy of its authorities.

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