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This Memorial Day

9th Jul 2014, 12:00 AM

This Memorial Day
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kidra on 25th May 2015, 8:14 AM

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Today is Memorial Day in the United States, so I wanted to take today to just mention this wonderful quote from Amazing Spider-Man #537, which took place during Marvel's Civil War.

I thought about writing something profound here to analyze this quote more, but I think I'm just gonna let it sit and see if there's anything you guys have to say about it.

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Disloyal Subject on 25th May 2015, 4:10 PM

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As awesome as this is to read every single time, I think Cap's uncompromising attitude tends to cause more trouble than it solves. Granted, I've only read a handful of relevant comics, but if he were inclined to see things from more perspectives the Avengers probably wouldn't murder nearly as many other heroes.
Feels disrespectful to point that out, but even while holding the line, it's important to acknowledge the possibility that there's another way. Communication is usually a preferable alternative to firefights.

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Otaku on 25th May 2015, 6:30 PM

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I feel the need to seek clarification:

Is it the sentiment you question or that particular application of it where you believe Captain America was wrong?

The basic premise is absolutely correct; if you don't believe in concepts like absolute good and evil, then of course that sounds like nonsense. If someone takes a stand and they are legitimately wrong, it doesn't make the statement wrong, just their own failed application of it.

I only know a basic overview of the Civil War storyline and frankly, it is intentionally designed to be confusing in terms of who is really right or wrong. "Superheroes" as we typically think of them are usually vigilantes and not something we really deal with in the real world (though I know some try to be).

Understanding the other side of an issue is just an important thought of thinking it over. It is one of the three steps I learned:
1) Identifying what you believe and why you believe it.
2) Identifying what the other "side" believes and why they believe it.
3) Identifying what the other side believes about what you believe.

Compromise is usually best left to when two people can't agree on a restaurant, as opposed to fundamental issues of "right" and "wrong".

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kidra on 25th May 2015, 9:37 PM

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Two main thoughts to that. 1) I don't believe that Cap meant that you immediately need to start busting heads in order to stand up for your beliefs. From most of what I've seen the other party pushes things past the point of words (but maybe I'm just biased since Cap is my favorite...)
2 I agree with otaku when he says that the civil war storyline is meant to be confusing. I actually would be fully on the side of the registration were it not for their methods. They deliberately made it a gray issue in the comics.

SeriousBiz on 26th May 2015, 6:57 AM

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Excellent comments so far.

Personally, I think the phrase "stand up for what we believe" is too broad to work without the whole context and Cap's intentions (which cannot be known by people who haven't heard the context and can't read minds). It implies that having faith in something is inherently an admirable quality, when plenty of terrible people throughout history have fully believed in the righteousness of their cause. In fact, one could argue that in order to feel motivated, humans in general have to feel the need to believe that what they do matters in some way, otherwise, why do it? There is no inherent merit in believing in something.

I know little about Cap's history as a character, but from the little I've read, he always seemed to believe in the inherent value of human life (hence he fights non-lethally and without a gun). USA is an ideal to him not because he believes that his country is perfect as it is, far from it; he's working to make it more like the ideal that he believes it should be. Cap would never resort to torture, not only because it's ineffective, but because it's wrong to deliberately cause pain to another person, no matter how terrible you perceive him or her to be.

These are all good things that reflect his true beliefs, and as he believes that he can and should always become a better person, he's always ready to think things over if one of his (often old-fashioned) beliefs turn out to be based on ignorance and to be harmful to others. Being shown the error of his ways would make him grateful, not defensive, because above all, he treasures other people's well-being over his own ego. He doesn't believe in the sanctity of believing for belief's sake, and that's one of the reasons why he is a hero.

The point being that we, both as a society and as individuals, should examine our own motivations and beliefs. Why do I feel this way? Is there an inherent merit to the thing I'm standing up for, or am I just standing up for it out of the need to have something to stand up for/ because of force of habit/out of confusion/for the lulz? Am I lying to myself?

Also, agreed with kidra on the registration (as a concept standing on its own merits) actually being a good thing. It makes no sense to let masked vigilantes run amok without keeping a track on things. For much the same reason, while I do love the X-Men, I have trouble with mutants as a metaphor for minorities. If there was a minority capable of leveling mountains with a glance* and oftentimes being incapable of controlling said mutation once it manifests itself, wouldn't it make sense to keep track of said individuals and, if deemed dangerous, keep them from accidentally harming other people until something can be worked out? Presenting the government as evil fascists for doing so is not really fair. In a slightly more realistic universe, Prof. Xavier would be on the government payroll as an expert on helping mutants control their strange newfound powers, with the added bonus that there would be no need to have him be a super wealthy benefactor**.

*This is doubly troubling as historically, minorities have been attributed supernatural powers for the sake of justifying their persecution (think "magical" Romani people).

**On the other hand, this approach would go against the "I'm a super extra special snowflake and everybody is out to get me because they're meeeean" spirit that makes X-Men so popular amongst teenagers *BOOO!* *Hiss!* What? Whaaat?

Quotes like this keep popping up.

End on 27th May 2015, 6:22 AM

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Oh dear sweet God that quote is horrible and idiotic.
Its not about fighting for what you THINK is right, its about fighting for something that is ACTUALLY right. If you fight with all your might for the wrong thing you are the villain. Thinking is far more important than fighting.
Here is a list of real world villains that fought for what they believed in: All of them. Every single one. Eh, that was a short list.
Its odd that Cap would say this given that he fought Nazis and The Klan at various points and those guys firmly believe they are right. They don't care what the press, or the law, or science, or basic logic has to say... they are right and they are going to fight for what they believe in god dammit.
For crud sake, Cap fought against the Imperial Japanese (I think) and nobody, absolutely NOBODY, has ever fought as hard and fanatically and as unyieldingly as those guys. At the end of WW2 their allies Germany/Italy were defeated, all of their islands were gone, Russia was weeks away from entering the war and one of their major military cities had just been hit with a literal sci-fi doomsday weapon and their response was "we don't give up". Their unwillingness to give up is one of the main things that made them so reprehensible. When things were going bad the Nazis surrendered in droves which was great because fewer Allies died and fewer Germans died and there was less collateral damage. The German commander in Paris gave it up despite being ordered to torch it. And since the war Germany looked at themselves and realized they were bad and have been apologizing since then. But Japan was so sure of themselves that to this day they basically think they were in the right.
The US Army Rangers fighting against impossible odds to secure Hill 400 was heroic because they were liberating Europe from tyranny. The Japanese throwing a military coup after Nagasaki because they would rather die than surrender to the "racial inferior whites" isn't heroic.

Being able to fight hard is half the battle, the other half of the battle is knowing that you are fighting for the right side by thinking about it.

Also: try negotiations, subterfuge, compromise, tree hugging before fighting if possible blah blah blah.

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kidra on 27th May 2015, 1:59 PM

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So how do you propose that someone KNOW that what they believe is right? There are also a lot of people who fought (as I said before, I don't believe that "fight" always means combat) for their beliefs who are revered, such as Ghandi, Martin Luther King, everyone who fought against the Nazis, etc. Should we not "fight" for our beliefs because there are others who disagree with us, or because there's controversy around it? I agree that all those people you mentioned were wrong, it just seems that with your logic then nobody can really fight for what they believe in for the writer that they're actually wrong.

End on 28th May 2015, 4:47 AM

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Finding out what is right is the trick isn't it.
The basic version is the difference between the childish "I'm a good guy because I say so" and a mature, highly self-critical, well thought out, "I'm right because of the following reasons" and are willing to change on a dime.
Long version is
* I believe in conclusion X because of facts Y viewed through underlying moral principles Z.
* My opponents believes in conclusion A because of facts B viewed through underlying moral principles C.
* Compare the conclusions, fact and principle sets against each other. Make up new conclusion, fact, principles set if needed.
* Look for inconsistencies. {Its bad when you steal/kill/etc but its OK when I do it because...} That "because" had better be really good otherwise you have to start over.
* Run your new conclusion, fact and principle set through the motions again. If they hold stick to them otherwise change them.
{ I just realized this is almost the same as fellow commenter Otaku's post but I still like what I got }.

The main thing is that one needs to be able to come to the correct outcome. Either on their first try or later on if things change / new info arises. You might be right, your opponent might be right, you both might be wrong.

But the quote that I don't like very much says the opposite. The only thing that matters is that you fight hard. Not that you fight smart or realize you are fighting for the wrong side, as long as you are fighting you are good.

A great example of this would be (coincidently enough for this webcomic) the first Thor movie. Thor is a great fighter and sticks to his principles no matter what anyone (including his dad) says. But his principles are stupid and dangerous (Thor is basically a villain) so his dad removes his powers (Thor is now neutral). Eventually Thor gets better principles at which point he regains his exact same power set (Thor is now a good guy).
At the start and end of the movie Thor thinks he is a good guy, but only at the end after thinking about it is he actually a good guy.

Martin Luther King and Ghandi (who as you mention are great examples of fighters outside of combat) exemplify why the quote is bad. Since birth most white people are fed the generic racist lines and then one day they read the paper and see police violently assaulting peaceful protesters. At this point the white reader can
* accept that they are wrong and have been fighting for the wrong side and now join the right side
* stick to their guns (like the quote said) and not change their racist views.

Knowing is half the battle. Fighting is the other half. Once you have thought it through and come to a good conclusion then you must fight and fight hard.
We should not fight for out beliefs because others disagree with it or because of controversy, we should fight because our beliefs are right. And we think they are right because we think critically and reject 'I think I'm right therefore I am right' mentality.

The quote basically says that scoring goals in soccer is good. No, scoring goals against your opponent is good. Scoring goals against your team is bad. Who you are scoring goals against is as important as your ability to score goals.

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kidra on 28th May 2015, 6:44 AM

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I can understand your logic but personally I never felt like the quote says anything about the process of deciding what is right and wrong. It just said that when you know something is right you fight for it.

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Otaku on 28th May 2015, 8:12 AM

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End, your comments are a great example of something I struggle with: overthinking a matter. I don't disagree with all that you said, but most of what I agree with falls under "goes without saying".

If you are going to go into this much detail, it is important to remember that even when it comes to fighting for a wrong cause... fighting for what you believe in itself wasn't wrong. Being wrong was wrong. It is also much better to fight for a wrong cause you believe in than to fight for a wrong cause you do not believe in. It is best not to fight for a wrong cause.

The quote isn't just about fighting hard. It expressly states to fight hard for what you believe in, with the implications you've done your homework. Do a lot of people fail at that? You bet. I know I have before and I'll probably do it again... but that is generally understood.

You might want to review your post for areas where you didn't apply the same scrutiny you are asking others to apply. Using examples likely to add further controversy are not good; there are things I believe that I have tested with logic and yet I know not to throw them at wounded people that are thoroughly deceived... because instead of breaking through I'll just break them (be that feigning agreement to avoid conflict or inciting open hostility).
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