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Righteous Indignation


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Hey there guys. I have had the opportunity to speak and interact with a number of you, so some of you may know of me though I have yet to post an ex-testimony. I’ve been an ex-Christian for about 17 years and a few months ago it occurred to me that it might be interesting to speak with others of my kind. After a brief search, I found you guys and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of this place and these people. As others have said, I feel that I have room to breathe here. My compliments go out to those who participate here and make this place possible.

 

I wanted to ask you guys what may seem an unusual question. Before I ask it of you though I feel that I have to confess to it. I have felt the emotion of righteous indignation. I wanted to ask you guys what your thoughts are on this experience. I welcome comments from any who have shared it or feel they may have insights into its nature. Some of the things that occurred to me to ask are…

 

What might cause one to feel righteous indignation?

Would you characterize it as good or bad?

Are there circumstances where it may be justified?

If so, what are those circumstances?

 

Those are just a few of the questions off the top of my head, if you think of others that may be worth asking that would be great.

 

I have not really thought about this in depth. It dawned on me over the last couple of days that it would be interesting to hear what you guys may have to say about it.

 

Again, it’s been cool hanging out here. Take care guys.

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What might cause one to feel righteous indignation?

Would you characterize it as good or bad?

Are there circumstances where it may be justified?

If so, what are those circumstances?

 

Well, let's see: Righteous: A feeling of moral justification. Indignation: Anger brought on by an injustice, unkindness or meanness.

 

Righteous Idignation: A moral justification for anger brought on by percieved injustice, unkindness, or meanness.

 

I think righteous indignation is a perfectly normal and natural emotion. All of us has had our core values slighted at some point. When someone slights or dismisses our beliefs or skews our morality, it's essentially devaluing us as a human being and a person.

 

Christians often feel righteous indignation when they witness something that goes against their core values, such as a homosexual couple kissing. An atheist may feel righteous indignation when they hear the Christian rant about how disgusting the homosexual's display of affection is.

 

I wouldn't really characterize the feelings as good or bad in themselves, but more the actions that are spurred from it. It can be an extremely powerful emotion, inspiring people to perform certain acts. Like, the Christian to vote or campaign for the banning of gay marriage and upholding sodomy laws, and the Atheist to campaign in the support of gay rights. In the end of that, is whether those actions will ultimately benefit or harm society. That can definately end up as "good" or "bad."

 

Feelings of righteous indignation are like most feelings: They don't need justification, they are just there. The actions that created them or result from them may or may not be justifiable.

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What might cause one to feel righteous indignation?
When someone assumes you're stupid, ignorant, or is only interested in attacking you instead of the topic.
Would you characterize it as good or bad?
Depends on the situation. When believers start asking stupid questions and you refuse to play their game, they get real mad.
Are there circumstances where it may be justified?

If so, what are those circumstances?

In many cases in dealing with believers of any stripe, it is usually justified when they lower the level of discussion to personal attacks such as; "you're just here to argue" or "how do you "know" that" or "you're just a mouthpiece for the establishment" or "why do you hate god" and stuff like that.
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What might cause one to feel righteous indignation?
Depends on the person. I feel it when I hear about bigotry and intolerance in the world.

 

Would you characterize it as good or bad?
Emotions are neither good nor bad in and of themselves.

 

This is the fallacy of Christians, at least fundies: to assume that we must only feel "good" emotions scuh as happiness, and to not allow ourselves to feel the "negative emotions" like anger or sadness. Yet without the "negative" emotions, what would we have to compare the "good" emotions with? How can one experience joy without experiencing sadness, or peace without experiencing anger?

 

Are there circumstances where it may be justified?
Again, emotions are neither unjustified nor justified. You simply feel them. That is human and it is not a good or bad thing in and of itself. It is one's actions because of emotions that are either unjustified or justified, good or bad.

 

If so, what are those circumstances?
See above.
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What might cause one to feel righteous indignation?

 

When one's bitter ex-wife attempts to use your chidren to try to hurt you.

 

Would you characterize it as good or bad?

 

It's neither. It's the natural response to a stimulus.

 

Are there circumstances where it may be justified?

 

How do you "justify" a natural response? It's just what it is. Not good, not bad, not needing justification. It's just human nature.

 

So...in answer to your question (as if you haven't already guessed), yes, I am experienced in righteous indignation, now as an ex-Christian even more so than as a Christian. Lots more opportunity for it now. Christians aren't half as oppressed in this nation as they like to think they are. As a matter of fact, it's quite the opposite.

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I agree with what has already been posted so far.

 

I would like to add I do feel more righteous indignation now than I did as a christian. I've learned a lot more than I ever knew before, and I get bugged quite a bit when other people go through life content to know nothing more than what was handed to them in high school, and see no reason to question what they were taught.

 

I think one of the biggest things that trigger me is acceptance of ignorance. Not only is no one expected to know anything, but if someone does want to know something that you know about, they expect you to spoon-feed it to them. No initiative or desire to research themselves. You have to explain it. And if it can't be simplified into a 5th grade reading level, you must be pulling stuff out of your ass.

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I feel righteous indignation whenever I know White_Raven is watching because I know how much it gets her going to see me let loose on someone :wicked: (Here's one for you WR if you haven't seen it: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=239468 :grin: )

 

Seriously, the sorts of things that set me off are when there is a repeated disregard for basic human dignity and respect of others. This pretty much defines the actions of the fundamentalists who worship their beliefs while urinating all over human beings.

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I feel righteous indignation whenever I know White_Raven is watching because I know how much it gets her going to see me let loose on someone :wicked: (Here's one for you WR if you haven't seen it: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?s=&a...st&p=239468 :grin: )

 

Oooooh.

 

Tasty.

 

Thanks, I hadn't seen that.

 

I need to go do something naughty to celebrate.

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Oooooh.

 

Tasty.

 

Thanks, I hadn't seen that.

 

I need to go do something naughty to celebrate.

You make me want to go seek out a fundi to pound on tonight! :woohoo:

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It's an interesting question LR. It may indeed be a conditioned response; in fact it probably is. That's what you are getting at isn't it?

 

Well, I can tell you that nobody conditioned me to feel "indignant" when I see or hear about bigotry in the world. If anything, I was conditioned to just accept it. I went to a conservative Lutheran church. People were considered evil just for being different in any way, shape, or form other than the norm (white middle/upper class homophobic neo-con fundy).

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It's an interesting question LR. It may indeed be a conditioned response; in fact it probably is. That's what you are getting at isn't it?

 

Well, I can tell you that nobody conditioned me to feel "indignant" when I see or hear about bigotry in the world. If anything, I was conditioned to just accept it. I went to a conservative Lutheran church. People were considered evil just for being different in any way, shape, or form other than the norm (white middle/upper class homophobic neo-con fundy).

 

I think there's room for more than one source of conditioning. Modern America tends to look down upon those who are racist and society extracts a penalty from those who choose to hold bigoted beliefs by shaming them. That's not to say that this type of conditioning is a bad thing. Just the opposite. I think we can come to the same position that bigotry is detrimental to society through logic. Conditioning is just a quicker way to get there as it goes to the emotional level and bypasses the need to come to the same conclusion through rationality.

 

Other types of righteous indignation can be misplaced though. Many Americans, for example, were overtly indignant that Muslim women in Afghanistan were forced to wear burkas. Yet at the same time many of these same people did not blink an eye when we accidentally bombed wedding parties killing huge amounts of innocents.

 

I think we are indignant about those things that are close to us and that we can empathize with. We can empathize with woman's issues because those very same issues hit close to home for many of us. Whereas groups of innocent Afghanis being killed just seems far away to us and not really real.

 

Here's an example, cops are generally overtly indignant about cop killers. Why? Besides the obvious reasons, they can empathize with the dead cop; it might have been me or my partner. I, and many others in society, on the other hand are overtly indignant against police brutality and wrongly framed and/or wounded or killed victims of police violence. Why? Because I can empathize with the victim knowing that it could be me or someone I care about.

 

These may or may not be rational conclusions, but they are emotional responses that we are predisposed toward depending on who we are and what our experiences have been.

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Interesting topic... and one I've not given much thought other than when Christians employ it towards me when they feel that I have disrespected their god. They get kind of nasty and their attacks become personal rather than philosophical. They justify their behavior with the term "righteous indignation" and use the story of Jesus clearing the money-changers from the temple as justification. Hey, why not just use all the other times god got pissed and destroyed people or the 'fact' that he's about to reach his boiling point now and cast us all into the fiery pit to be tortured for all eternity.

 

Hell, the temple tirade was nothing but a sissy-hissy-fit in comparison!

 

I think I was far more prone to the emotion when I was a believer than I am now. I'm not sure if that is due to a different way of viewing the world or the meds I take (...just kidding!)

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I think there are many reasons for righteous indignation. Bigotry, tyranny, crime etc. It is by definition, righteous.

 

But I think that too often, some people equate righteous indignation with being offended, when all that is necessary is to ignore the offender. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can offend me without my permission." Yes, I have righteous indignation for those who have become hyper-sensitive and easily offended in this country, all in the name of political correctness. Get over it.

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These have been some interesting responses.

It's an interesting question LR. It may indeed be a conditioned response; in fact it probably is. That's what you are getting at isn't it?

I don't know that I'm trying to make a point, but I think that your suggestion is an interesting one Vigile. I've just become interested in this subject. I'm eager to find out more about it. Hopefully I can try to explain why.

 

Kurari offered this deifinition: Righteous Indignation-a moral justification for anger brought on by a percieved injustice, unkindness or meaness.

 

Wikipedia offers the following-an emotion one feels when one becomes angry over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice. They also offer this: "In some Christian doctrines, righteous indignation is considered the only form of anger which is not sinful. Conversely, it is considered sinful to fail to act upon one's righteous anger, especially if it regards blasphemy against God."

 

To hear some tell it, Christians have a corner on the market of righteous indignation. I lifted the following from here... http://pages.prodigy.net/jmiller.cb/a115.html

 

We are supposed to feel righteous indignation when we see

something wrong. God meant us to. It is a sign of spiritual

health and a good conscience. If we are so tolerant and broad-

minded that we can watch wrong and feel nothing there is

something seriously wrong with us. God himself feels angry

when he sees wrong and evil. It was in righteous indignation

that he burned Sodom and Gomorrah to the ground. And it was in

righteous indignation that Jesus threw the moneychangers out of

the temple. If we were to see some bully brutally and

sadistically clubbing some child to death it would be natural

and right for us to be angry. In the same way if we can sit

and watch immorality romanticized and glamorized on television

without feelings of anger and righteous indignation it is a

sign of spiritual sickness. If we can sit and listen to

philosophies, viewpoints and attitudes expounded on the Merv

Griffin show that are in deep conflict with the teachings of

the Bible and Christianity and not feel anger there is

something wrong. God expects us to get angry over wrong. Not

only for our own sake but for that of others. If a father

catches his child stealing and doesn't get angry about it he

does the child wrong. The child needs to see his father react

in righteous indignation. Only then can he respect and believe

in his father. The child intuitively knows he did wrong and

anger on the part of the father is the only proper reaction.

Not to get angry is to condone. Not to get angry shows a

perverted mind and heart. The same would be true if the father

were to catch his boy lying, or using profane or indecent

language, or looking at indecent pictures.

 

Recently others here and I engaged a fundamentalist in a "dialogue" over the veracity of evolution. At one point this person asked if we were open to the idea of teaching creationism alongside our various theories of evolution in public classrooms. Now maybe it is immature of me and counterproductive to the discussion, but part of me felt the twinges of righteous indignation. Why? I guess because I also believe that to fail to teach students about evolution is to deprive them of a glimpse of the majestic story of life's struggle here on Earth. Instead we are to lend credibilty to what amount to fairy tales in my opinion.

 

I am asking myself questions like... Are some muslims compelled to attack us because they feel righteously indignant? If someone gets upset because I can no longer sustain a belief in their imaginary friend that they concocted by some amalgamation of Biblical description and community heritage then is that even remotely reaonable? Didn't Gandi feel righteously indignant?

 

So the upshot of all this is that I am examining righteous indignation in myself and in others and asking myself, in some sense, if it is reasonable. Where will I tolerate it in myself and where will I dismiss or even condemn it of myself and of others? If I do feel it then how should I act on it? I don't doubt that I harbor hipocrisy about this and I still carry over the admonition to remove your own log before you address your neighbors splinter.

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Are some muslims compelled to attack us because they feel righteously indignant? .

 

Absolutely. This goes back to my point that it is a conditioned response. Muslims are conditioned to be righteously indignant of that which they perceive as great sin. We who encompass that sin are not sinners from an objective point of view, but from their's we certainly deserve death.

 

So the upshot of all this is that I am examining righteous indignation in myself and in others and asking myself, in some sense, if it is reasonable. Where will I tolerate it in myself and where will I dismiss or even condemn it of myself and of others? If I do feel it then how should I act on it? I don't doubt that I harbor hipocrisy about this and I still carry over the admonition to remove your own log before you address your neighbors splinter.

 

It's not an either/or issue I think. Some is reasonable and even valuable. Like in my response to Am, it is good for society if members of society feel indignant against biggotry. This emotion surpasses the need to reason through the issue, which some are just not able to do very well. On the other hand, as I pointed out earlier, sometimes we can misplace this emotion. Christians are surely indignant that Creation is not taught alongside evolution in schools. This emotional response is not grounded in rationality.

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This examination of righteous indignation has been very interesting to me. I have become acutely aware of other peoples attempts to argue that I should be righteously indignant about this or that.

 

It seems to me that if someone argues that you should be then in essence they are attempting to define for you your morals, values, and even your sense of self. I think too that this emotion can be heady and addictive stuff. For when you are righteously indignant you are moral, justified, and pissed off.

 

I think that I will keep a vigilant eye out for signs of righteous indignation in myself and in others.

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But is it bad to be indignant about some things? Is it always irrational?

 

I think that sometimes those who appeal to your sense of indignation are in essence appealing to your values, not necessarily trying to get you to change your values (though that's not always the case).

 

For the sake of debate let me attempt to provide an example. I'm sorry it is a controversial one, but for the moment try not to take sides on the issue since I'm only providing it to make a point about values and indignation, not to discuss the details of the issues themselves.

 

Global warming: An environmentalist might be righteously indignant about this issue and feel strongly about the massive amount of carbon we are putting into the atmosphere. Let's assume that the environmentalist has reached his conclusions through a great deal of study. This environmentalist then appeals to you and I with a sense of urgency. As he appeals to your own sense of indignation about the issue he makes an assumption that you value life on this planet and wish that a healthy nature will be left to our children's children. You and I may or may not disagree with the environmentalist about the urgency of his claims, but it is quite likely that we share his values (that of saving the planet). In other words, he is not attempting to change your morality, but is appealing to it. At the same time, if you disagree with the environmentalist's findings (rightly or wrongly) you will not be indignant. If, however, the environmentalist can make a compelling case and you objectively review his findings, you to might become indignant over the same issues as he. You did not change your morality in doing so, but rather your morality was pricked by a compelling argument regarding the urgency of the issue.

 

I would hope that people would become indignant about some issues in their lives. A total lack of this emotion seems shallow to me. This emotion calls one's self to action to make changes. Likewise, adopting this emotion without any objectivity is probably foolhardy and leads one to misplace their fury.

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....It seems to me that if someone argues that you should be then in essence they are attempting to define for you your morals, values, and even your sense of self. I think too that this emotion can be heady and addictive stuff. For when you are righteously indignant you are moral, justified, and pissed off.
It can also be used as a defense mechanism, a way to keep a closed mind tightly closed. They get righteously indignant when you challenge their pet ideas and then start attacking the person that dared to speak out against them.
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I think that was a good point Dave.

 

But is it bad to be indignant about some things? Is it always irrational?

I hope I'm not suggesting that indignation is bad or always irrational.

 

I would hope that people would become indignant about some issues in their lives.

I would too.

 

This emotion calls one's self to action to make changes.

I agree, it's a powerful emotion.

 

Likewise, adopting this emotion without any objectivity is probably foolhardy and leads one to misplace their fury.

I think therein lies the rub. I am beginning to suspect that "righteous" indignation is the stuff of saints and monsters.

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....I think therein lies the rub. I am beginning to suspect that "righteous" indignation is the stuff of saints and monsters.
It's the "righteous" part that the saints and monsters (they're usually the same thing depending on which side you're on) use to either stifle any disagreement or to keep their tightly closed mind protected. And it's not limited to religions. That big fat idiot limbaugh is an expert at it. All of the talking behinds on Faux news learned from him.
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And it's not limited to religions.

I absolutely agree with this Dave. I am not even sure that righteous indignation can be said to be a uniquely human emotion.

 

Correctly or incorrectly, I often associate righteous indignation as emanating from a desire to protect others and not necessarily myself. That’s what makes it righteous in some sense. But I think a great number of various things might cause one to feel that one’s indignation is justified and righteous. And does not some part of us want to feel righteously indignant? Are you not at that point part of something much larger than yourself? I think that many may seek out things to be righteously indignant about.

 

And I also think that the things a person or society becomes righteously indignant about reveals a great deal about that person or people. For instance, I will not tell you guys about some of the things that move me to this emotion because it would reveal too many things about me.

 

Another thought occurred to me. Perhaps someone with a better overview of history will jump in here and help me out. At the time that Jesus was manifest, whether in myth or reality, wasn’t Israel just being occupied by a foreign power? If so, why couldn’t we view his presence as a manifestation of their righteous indignation?

 

Well, as you guys may surmise I am finding this to be an interesting subject. Thanks for the input.

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Correctly or incorrectly, I often associate righteous indignation as emanating from a desire to protect others and not necessarily myself. That’s what makes it righteous in some sense. But I think a great number of various things might cause one to feel that one’s indignation is justified and righteous. And does not some part of us want to feel righteously indignant? Are you not at that point part of something much larger than yourself? I think that many may seek out things to be righteously indignant about.
Some of those just want to be included in the flock. Look at the recent sexual "predator' panic. If you are not on board with that you are seen as protecting them. You can see the hatred in their words and you can actually see that some are trying to out hate the other. The person that hates these 'predators' the most is the best person. Their righteous indignation makes them feel good and makes them look better in the eyes of others. It doesn't matter that their hatred and actions are way out of line with the actual threat.

 

There are other examples too; even seen how Vegans use righteous indignation? Christians? Sometimes it seems that the less rational point one has the more righteously indignant they have to get to protect it.

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Some of those just want to be included in the flock.

Yeah, I can see that this might be the case.

Look at the recent sexual "predator' panic. If you are not on board with that you are seen as protecting them.

Well I happen to feel that this indignation is justified. Maybe some do go over the top, but in general I think they have legitimate cause.

 

This may be be axiomatic or self-evident to many, but I suppose that those things that cause a person to become righteously indignant naturally delineates that person's allies. That is, we can more readily identify and band together with those who are moved by common issues to righteous indignation.

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Some of those just want to be included in the flock.

Yeah, I can see that this might be the case.

Look at the recent sexual "predator' panic. If you are not on board with that you are seen as protecting them.

Well I happen to feel that this indignation is justified. Maybe some do go over the top, but in general I think they have legitimate cause.

With a 2% recidivism rate for the majority of sex offenders, any kid has more of a chance of being abused by a drug offender than a sex offender. 99.9% of those that do re-offend, they do so with family members. The facts don't support the level of persecution. This panic is only for political purposes, and has NOTHING to do with protecting any child.
This may be be axiomatic or self-evident to many, but I suppose that those things that cause a person to become righteously indignant naturally delineates that person's allies. That is, we can more readily identify and band together with those who are moved by common issues to righteous indignation.
I see it as the other way around. People jump on bandwagons when it's popular. When it becomes unpopular, or of no benefit to them, they jump ship as soon as they can.
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