Wrong Lessons from Trojan War
It is frequently stated that Helen and Paris brought on the Trojan War. But what actually started the war was Menelaus's possessiveness. I've gone to great lengths to do away with possessive tendencies in myself, out of a calculus that the world will be better without such things.
And, for me, it has been.
If people have greater personal freedom, the world will be a better place. To make possible personal freedom, it is necessary to do away with what stands in the way of personal freedom. Jealousy and possessiveness in relationships is one of the major obstacles to personal freedom; and for a better world to exist this must be done away with.
Who is more in the wrong: Someone who falls in love with a married woman, or someone who bothers the whole country to go to war because his wife has left? My wife has left. I am not bothering anyone about it. Instead I wish her well and help out with the kids when I can.
If I can do this, then so can the next man. The Trojan epic has influenced the world wrongly, glorifying jealousy and possessiveness and persecuting freedom and love. The world will be a better place if the wrongful lessons of the Trojan war be unlearned, and the matter be put into perspective: Namely that the cause of that war was not Helen and Paris falling in love, but Menelaus thinking that his possessiveness justified getting the whole country into war and destroying a whole city.
One claim we frequently see is that Helen and Paris were guilty of "hubris." Much greater hubris is shown by the person who thinks that his possessive interests justify having tens of thousands people killed. Indeed the same kind of hubris is shown by most people who attack what they think to be "vanity." We see for example in many schools children attacking serious students because they think that they are "know-it-alls" or "think they're better than everyone else." Who is more guilty of hubris: The serious student or the person who thinks that he speaks for "everyone else" - 7 billion people, most of them nothing like him? Real hubris is shown by those who think that their possessive interests justify violence and oppression. And it is a far greater hubris than any of which they accuse their enemies.
In the real world, the worst hubris is shown by those who think that they are enforcing "social norms." It is one thing to enforce real, written laws; but when one claims to enforce rules that are unwritten, one becomes a de facto totalitarian. The person who thinks that he speaks for tradition, or the person who thinks that he speaks for society, is doing not much more than conceptualizing and enforcing unconstitutional oppression. If a rule is not honest enough to be written, then it is not honest enough to be followed. And enforcing such things, once again, constitutes far greater hubris than does transgressing them.
Indeed not only should it be people's right to transgress this kind of usurpatory oppression, but it should be their duty before liberty to do so. The more people are free from false and unwritten regulations, the more there is of liberty and transparency. And this creates a far more valid climate: A climate in which people have meaningful choice over their lives and in which they can do more good with this real liberty.
The question to ask in matters of social progress is, What leads to greater freedom and greater benefit? One thing that does wonders for both of the above is doing away with possessiveness. Adults should enjoy whatever relationships they can work out among one another. And I say this regardless of any personal interest in the matter, but out of consideration as to how much better the world can be.