Recently I was confronted with the issue of “Moral High Ground”—someone was ‘taking it’, as ‘someone’ always seems to be (whether explicitly or by their airs). Who knows why. There must be some advantage.
Since this “high ground” claim usually seems to precede some extreme action or proposal, the term should be fully scrutinized. According to Wikipedia, the phrase “refers to the status of being respected for being in the right and adhering to and upholding a universally recognized standard of justice or goodness.”
Have you ever noticed how the more righteous—another particularly dubious term—the intended position becomes the more vague and subjective the terminology justifying it becomes? In the very place that one would need to find an indisputable justification, the nature of the communication becomes less specific, more subjective, and more open to question. Additionally, one will most often find that the declaration becomes artful, extreme, and elaborate to the point of being completely unbelievable.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230
Merely in the wording of the phrase “Moral High Ground,” two of the three words are subjective adjectives: Moral and high. Such words cannot be defined in a way that can be agreed upon by all. Then consider the definition of the phrase, and we sink irrecoverably into this quagmire: “the status of being respected for being in the right and adhering to and upholding a universally recognized standard of justice or goodness.”
So we begin a position that would be offered as an unassailable ethical platform on a phrase that is itself, highly subjective: “dependent on and specific to the individual, unduly egocentric.” Is there an individual living today that could justify being the criterion for such a position?
Yes, I realize that the general use of such a concept would include (though implying otherwise) a refinement of the applicable audience until there could be a practical, collective agreement of the proposed position. I see two problems with this, however. First, with so many subjective terms, the refinement necessary to come to a consensus would reduce the applicable audience to a rather limited number. Secondly, part of the implicit definition of this term is that this stance is superlative, rises above all others. Now we have a limited audience whose interest has been put forward as having risen above all others. This, however, is not the worst abuse of the phrase’s use, as this position seems quite often to be claimed by an individual—a limited audience of one.
Right about now you’d be justified in questioning whether I am attempting to assert the advantage of “High Moral Ground” without claiming it. I have to say that I cannot justify (nor wish to) this position as either moral or superlative, only as my own.
No belief system [or position] is complete without including its own antithesis.**
copyright 2008 CG Walters
Words do not contain truth, but may reflect the truth that you hold within.
This is my truth. Only you can determine if there is any value in it for you.
C.G. Walters’s current novel, Sacred Vow is a metaphysical novel about a man who responds to the mysterious call of a woman, opening the way to redefinition of both himself and his understanding of the world around him…Highly recommended. —Midwest Book Review.
In celebration of CG’s upcoming non-fiction book, **Strike a Chord of Silence, for a limited time autographed/signed copies of Sacred Vow are available for $4.00US plus shipping!– or purchase as ebook or the Amazon Kindle version