Day 18: Emmy goes N.U.T.S.

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I started looking for these a few days ago. Here are a few select N.U.T.S. (Non-negotiable, unalterable terms):

“I believe in moral and ethical development, and I pursue it daily.”
“I explore and consider my privilege, and do the same for others if they do not do it themselves.”
“The personal is (always) political.”
“I am neither a liberal nor a utilitarian.”
“I keep a kosher kitchen and a Shabbat-observant home.”
“I am no one’s bitch.”
“I honor my mother and father, and respect my sister.”
“I believe in a Jewish State in the Land of Israel.”
“I do not hit or kick anyone unless it is in self-defense or part of an organized activity with pre-determined conventions (aka sports).”
“I do not shame anyone publicly.”


12 thoughts on “Day 18: Emmy goes N.U.T.S.

  1. chortlevork says:

    “The personal is (always) political.”

    This is intriguing, and I probably would have agreed as recently as two weeks ago, but I’m not sure any more. Could you elaborate?

    • Emmy says:

      By that, I mean that everything one does has political implications, and one cannot separate action from political consequence.

      For example: as a feminist, I refrain from treating people in certain ways or supporting certain institutions in any way, due to political convictions. If I do the things that I refrain from as a feminist, then I am not being a good feminist. All action has consequences, and how I act, even in the slightest decision I make, should (ideally) reflect how I want the world to look like, and how I want others to act, and I believe I can be held accountable to this standard, and I hold others to this standard when evaluating their politics.

      Ya dig?

      • chortlevork says:

        There’s the issue of ethical consistency, which I agree with. If I oppose the sale of previously affordable apartment complexes to a notorious redeveloper, I cannot then move into the sweet new condo that he builds (This is actually a potential issue in my life.) Feminism includes many good examples of this.

        But not all actions have political consequences, right? More to the point, lots of problems don’t have solutions that can be realized by individual action. If you’re addressing yourself to such a problem, you’re morally bound to take collective action. Example, if you’re looking to reduce garbage waste, it would be inconsistent not to take every possible opportunity to reuse or recycle. But your actions will on their own not have significant consequences, and thus it would also be MORALLY unacceptable NOT to INSIST that friends, relatives, acquaintances and STRANGERS do similarly. In fact, reducing one’s own waste output without taking measures to reduce society’s waste output is nothing more than ego.

      • chortlevork says:

        What I mean to argue by that example is that while the personal may often be political, politics is broadly impersonal.

  2. vicuña says:

    what’s wrong with public shaming and violence? I don’t find such universal imperatives accurate-after all, one could easily imagine conditions in which public shaming or unprovoked violence are entirely reasonable. Also, in what way do you pursue moral development daily, I’m curious how this works.
    and in general, it’s a good list, I was surprised by the number we agree on (to the extent I agree on anything labeled as non-negotiable)

    • Emmy says:

      Hmm.. When would publicly shaming an individual do any good? I think it wouldn’t do any more good than confronting the individual privately, or addressing other issues publicly that don’t have to do with shaming if it’s something so bad.

      As for unprovoked violence, when would it be okay? I can sympathize with destroying property in public protest, but I can’t see any reason in which it would be okay to strike someone for the hell of it or to prove a point.

      By pursuing moral improvement every day, I mean reading some sort of ethical work, evaluating my weaknesses and mistakes, a prayer regimen, and speaking with good friends about moral dilemnas.

      • vicuña says:

        I think that this issue gets at notions of personhood. And we should recognize that people also represent ideas (among other things) and that a response to such ideas can justify violence or public shaming. So for instance, I would have no trouble assaulting Stalin on a street corner or publicly shaming him. By attacking him and his ideas I think it would be possible to lead the world in a better direction, either by force or persuasion (or both).

  3. LadyG says:

    I think this is a great assignment and a wonderful list. I have already come to admire you for your commitment to each of these!

    Like vicuña, I am interested in the number we agree on. Can’t wait to make my own sometime!

    “I am neither a liberal nor a utilitarian.”

    Me neither, but perhaps it might be a stronger statement if you put it in the positive? Or is it more important to define yourself AGAINST these two pervasive ideologies? (If so, that’s very Jewish of you.)

    • Emmy says:

      “…perhaps it might be a stronger statement if you put it in the positive? Or is it more important to define yourself AGAINST these two pervasive ideologies? ”

      This is an interesting point, and I’ve been thinking about it. In terms of liberalism and utilitarianism, I _must_ put this value in the negative, because of how evil they are. Putting it in the negative also allows me much more freedom to change later on as long as I don’t cross this red line. While I may be a socialist/Religious Labor Zionist/etc.etc.etc. now, I may not be these things in the future, and stating a public commitment to a positive in this case would either set me up for failure or constrain thought. It’s like saying “I will not become an alcoholic” rather than saying “I will drink root beer, 7UP, and Pepsi.” I might not like any of these in the future, but “I will not become an alcoholic ” is more helpful.

  4. Emmy says:

    @vicuña: In the case of Stalin, if you were to run into him, you’d probably have a good case for attacking him because of self-defense and defense of others (I forgot to mention that this also applies as self-defense in my book). Also, to attack his ideas is not to publicly shame. By publicly shame I mean to strike a low blow, like to release naked pictures of some president I disagree with or whatever, which has nothing to do with the issues people could have raised about their presidency. Most people stand publicly for their public ideas and actions, but do not and should not stand publicly for their private lives.

  5. Emmy says:

    @chortlevork: You make good points. Of course one has a responsibility to convince their surrounding neighbors/family/friends/colleagues/etc. to do the same. However, I am not sure that effectiveness is the goal of ethics or politics (In Nixon voice: “I am not a utilitarian”). I must draw a separation between the terms “consequence” and “effectiveness” here. If, say, I fail to convince others to do this thing that I am doing, and thus have no effect on the scheme of things, I am still doing the ethically right thing since (my apologies to Kant) the decision still results in an ethically significant action directed at a political vision. (With further apologies to Kant,) I, ideally, act on the principle that if everyone did this the world would be a better place.

  6. Emmy says:

    Also @vicuña, civil disobedience counts, at least in my book, as “an organized activity with pre-determined conventions.” Although I probably don’t have the strength to beat Stalin up, I would definitely push back at someone trying to hose me or my friends down with a firetruck. I was referring more specifically to not just like, hitting anyone because I’m mad or kicking someone for the hell of it even when joking around. Violent reactions in personal settings can be a slippery slope.

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