Between the World and Me

I just listened to the 2015 book by Ta-nehisi Coates, with the title shown in the thread here. I’ve heard of Coates, and seen interviews, but the 5 hour book was amazing almost every word. In it, he quotes Solzhenitsyn.

I couldn’t find the exact quote, but this one is quote:

Quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “If only it were all so simple! If only there we…” (

Coates talks about how, to do evil, a person must, first of all, believe that what he is doing is good or else that it’s a well-considered act according to some natural law. I see this in about half of the posts on this forum and probably miss it when I do it myself. Whatever clever barb I might throw at someone is considered by me to be “for the good”. In the rest of my life, I’m sure this thinking has been part of the lost friendships with my uncle or some of my high school friends. It creates my bubble.

The question of whether someone IS right or wrong is a separate question from their belief that they are right or wrong. If someone believes they are wrong and does a wrong thing anyway, that is a pathology. It exists, it’s why we have police and justice systems. If they know they are outside the law, or the guidelines of morality, but can justify their actions based on some higher authority, some temporary suspension of the rules, then they are asking for special consideration. In discourse, this is a logical fallacy. In international politics, it can result in a mass atrocity. The majority, the good people who serve us coffee, who pack our mail-order items, who profit legally in our system, who drive near the speed limit, they are believing they are right and good. Demonstrating how they are wrong can be a challenge, getting the individuals to see it is a far greater challenge.