Ends Justify The Means
We are a nation of laws, not of men
There are always motivations to do what is wrong in order to gain something. Maybe it’s lying on a resumé to get a job or taking something from someone that doesn’t belong to you just because you needed it. Perhaps it’s not speaking out against injustice or not defending someone who couldn’t defend themselves, just because you wanted to be politically correct and not make waves.
Maybe you’re Gen. Mark A. Milley, the four-star Army general who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You went rogue in defiance of the president by calling our chief adversary, China, because you thought you were protecting the country from an accidental war.
Perhaps you’re Joe Biden, and in order to “honor” a self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, you left thousands of Americans behind enemy lines as hostages.
Maybe you’re in favor of making vaccinations mandatory because they save lives, even if it may violate the freedom of religious, spiritual and personal beliefs, as protected by law.
It could be that you’re in favor of an open southern border (which is illegal, by the way) to provide care and comfort to those seeking asylum in the U.S., even though there have been explosive increases in human, sex and drug trafficking as a result, not to mention the record number of illegal immigrants (just in 2021) who are expected to die on their journey to the U.S.
Maybe you are in favor of “taxing the rich” to give more to the poor because the rich just get richer, even though the U.S. already has one of the most progressive tax systems in the free world, and the top 10% of income earners pay 71 percent of all federal income taxes.
Maybe you are in favor of eliminating fossil fuels because those like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say, “the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” Even though eliminating fossil fuels will increase inflation and the cost of electricity and natural gas to every household (rich and poor alike) and destroy 10 million jobs in the energy sector alone.
Perhaps you are in favor of defunding the police (because they are supposedly more corrupt and abusive than not), even though violent crime across the country spiked last year as a result.
In these instances, some would say, “Well, you see, the ends justify the means.”
But do they? Or does this philosophy merely give us an excuse to do what we know is not right?
Indeed it’s an ethical dilemma because saying “the ends justify the means” rationalizes small injustices to achieve what one perceives as the “greater good.” It makes the rules subjective to our desires and disregards the consequences to others. It’s a way for us to take the law into our own hands.
And this is why the ends cannot justify the means. It leads to chaos, as each person or group begins deciding what is “right” or “wrong” based on their situation or perspective and not based on the law. After all, in the words of John Adams, we are “a nation of laws and not of men.”
An “ends justifies the means” philosophy is a threat to the freedom of ALL Americans, regardless of your political party. If the U.S. government can manipulate politics and the law to withhold basic freedoms or implement policies that are more about the political agenda of the controlling party rather than what’s best for the people (Americans and non-Americans alike), in that case, there is no end to what they will do to control our society.
We must all resist this temptation, for whatever tactic is used against any of us today will undoubtedly be used against another of us tomorrow.
The “ends justifying the means” has never worked for any society – at least not for very long.
Democracy, after all, is about the means.
Dictatorship is about the ends. And what possibly is worth justifying for that?
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.