6 With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6.6-8)
These were the verses mentioned in a men’s breakfast I attended. Verses 6-7 refer to what some people, during the time of Micah, thought might be appropriate behavior for drawing close to Jehovah – animal sacrifices, gifts of immense amounts of olive oil, and even the human sacrifice of one’s first born child. This kind of behavior is rejected. Rather, we are to do justice, practice mercy and be humble.
Justice, mercy and humility are necessary now; they were necessary then. To do justice, one stands up for what might not be a popular position, at least as far as the power holders and brokers are concerned. In fact, even the general population might not want justice in all respects; it could discomfit the majority who benefit from the injustice practiced by the few in positions of power.
Humility challenges the validity of self-centeredness. In reality, self-centeredness is self-destructive. When one wants life to be “all about me”, it can only work if not everyone is permitted to adhere to the “all about me” philosophy. If everyone followed it, we would live in anarchy that destroys society, at least until people were willing to do some self sacrifice to achieve some kind of social contract.
Selfishness to any degree is destructive, and complete selfishness destroys all social relationships. Picture with me for just a moment what would happen if complete selfishness were taken as normative, reaching the status of Kant’s categorical imperative or Jesus’ Golden Rule. Society would be in free-fall with chaos reigning supreme!! Selfishness can only work if not everyone is permitted to be selfish!!! Poor Nietzsche was so wrong!!!