Posted by: janineplusbrianequals | November 13, 2009

Ethical Rebellion – Preface (part 2)

Ethical Rebellion

(When to Light the Torches)

If we start from the concept of rebellion, we find that there must be an established order against which we rebel. The act of breaking the established order brings about a state of chaos before a new order is settled.

I contend that a state of order is inherently “heavenly” while a state of disorder is inherently “hellish.” Certainly this is a semantic distinction, but since this is my “book” I will stick to my definitions and simply illustrate what I mean.

Is a pride of lions tearing down a zebra orderly or disorderly? The coordination of the lions is incredibly orderly. The balance of the ecosystem displays an incredible pattern, in which the lions feed themselves while also strengthening the zebra herd by removing the weak. Knocking over a zebra, ripping open its throat and shredding and consuming its flesh is disorderly. The vultures, jackals, hyenas and maggots which cleanup the carcass are part of an orderly process of recycling. Flies burying their eggs in rotting flesh so that their young can hatch and eat their way out is gross. Therefore, disorderly.

It is difficult to apply the good/evil dichotomy to this world of nature – again, a semantic endeavor.

Let’s try another example.

Funny looking short guy with a mustache leading thousands of Germans to wear strange badges, explode French homes and businesses and systematically destroy millions of Jews. Disorderly. Offering the German people inspiration, hope and direction in a time of despair. Orderly. The impoverished German economy turning around and leaping into productivity is orderly. Dropping and ignoring debt obligations to France, England and the USA is disorderly. Organizing the tactics and coordination which allowed the German army to blow through the Maginot line involves incredible order. A bullet smashing through Hitler’s skull and brain in a bunker somewhere is disorderly.

Every element in each of these examples could be dissected a hundred more times to reveal a mixture of order and disorder – pattern and chaos – creation and destruction.

 Hopefully a couple things become clear from these examples.

A) We cannot possibly hope to understand and analyze every level of every situation.
B) Any event or occurrence in this world involves a conglomeration of order and disorder. All the more so with any institution or establishment.

C) Our own view of the matter is colored by the lens through which we observe and by the material we focus on. (However, this does not lead me to conclude that every situation’s intrinsic quality is defined by the beholder and relative to the beholder).

As this constant, cycling process unfolds around us, we find ourselves faced with two opportunities:

A) We can make an evaluation of a given process or state of being.

B) We can intentionally seek to effect this process.

In the broadest sense we can evaluate the whole panorama. Do we think that everything unfolding is held within an inherently orderly process or an inherently chaotic one? Does it all lead to a good end or all toward entropical deadness?

This broad evaluation effects and guides the way we seek to contribute to the whole, and also how we contribute in specific cases.

I assume that all change involves a breaking of a given order. Change is destructive of a status quo and is therefore also painful and full of conflict. It is a rebellion. However, growth relies on change. Change is obviously a very necessary part of existence.

And yet, growth also depends on factors of stability. Somalia’s protracted civil war may ultimately be part of a necessary and useful growth. But at the moment the disorder or chaos of situation prevents most viable business and communities from establishing themselves.

I suggest that something can be labeled as “evil” if it involves an effort to dominate and control for some personal gain. This comes from my evaluation that everything moves within an over-arching order and that everything moves towards a good purpose (Divine Providence, if you will). Hence, to set oneself up to rule over others in opposition to this order is bad.

Rebellion is a rejection of existing order and thus a lack of acceptance of what Is. The rebellious attitude is dangerous because overthrowing an existing scenario easily turns to a rejection of the overarching process. The danger comes when one turns to self as the arbiter of good and evil – (like eating from a certain forbidden tree).

 And yet, I do believe that there are times and places for ethical rebellion.


 Perhaps the following quotation from Matthew is relevant:

“Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” Matthew 18.7



  1. Hey Brian,

    I feel rebellion more often has to do with freedom than order. This seems to be more of the conclusion you come to towards the end of your post, when talking about dominion.

    Many evils may be well organized, but often the difference between good order and bad order is the degree of freedom within that order. NAZI Germany – very ordered – but very little freedom. Living by our own will can be very ordered, but contains little (if any) real freedom.

    Most rebellions in history, I feel (but may be wrong) have been based in establishing freedom.

    Your number one fan.


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