Want to destroy The World? Keep your thoughts to yourself.

One of the things that I try to be very aware of is what I encourage, as well as I what I discourage. Both actions can be done directly by speech and action, and both can be done indirectly, by what is not said and by actions not taken. When I talk to people about things that they believe in, and how those things fit in with their everyday lives, I like to get into the area of discussion I like to call The Danger of Being Neutral.

The Danger of Being Neutral simply states that if you can realize that something is right, and not wrong, then you should follow that course. It states that since you know the difference between right and wrong, that anything even a little bit wrong can never be right. That means that you can never compromise with something that is wrong. A compromise between right and wrong only encourages what is wrong by making allowances for it, and discourages what is good by not supporting it fully.

For example, a person can’t cheat on their spouse a little bit. A person can’t steal a little bit. A person can’t kill people a little bit. There’s no such thing as being a little bit raped. The average person understands this. But all too often, I see people make exception, either for their own sake, the sake of someone else, or even worse, just for the sake of argument or discussion. It’s funny, how all of a sudden, it can be okay to cheat, lie, steal, rape, murder, because, you know, everything is not black and white. Or maybe what’s okay for one person may not be okay for another.

Here’s what my simple solutions are:

  • If you don’t know what the difference between good and evil (white and black as they try to call it), go learn it. Even if you don’t care about such things, in your life, you will not be able to escape the consequences of the actions of good and evil people.
  • Now, reflect deeply and stop kidding yourself. Find out what your passions and convictions are. Determine where you stand, and then stand your ground. If you find some sort of contradiction, examine your premises (my favorite line from Atlas Shrugged) and then resolve them. You’re going to need a strong sense of self in order to…
  • Speak out when you see something that you think is wrong. You pretty much have to do it. The beautiful thing about being rational is that you don’t have to disrespect someone in order to disagree with them. What usually works best is saying “I disagree.” Remember that if you remain silent, you imply consent. If you say or do nothing about something that you believe to be wrong, you encourage the wrong act, and discourage the right act at the same time.

This is what I call The Danger of Being Neutral. Ayn Rand called it The Cult Of Moral Grayness. It means you have to take a stand. Stop being that neutral person, because your neutrality will not help anyone. People can talk about being “neutral” or “keeping their thoughts to themselves” but the problem is, they can’t live that way. They won’t. I promise you that if someone were trying to defraud you, defame you, rape you, kill you, and some bystander was there that could help, you would understand in a second what I’m talking about here: The Danger of Being Neutral.

For more on this, read Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, Chapter 9: The Cult of Moral Grayness.