In reaction to the part about J.L. Mackie’s argument of naming the real life Suckers as the “Christian” and calling Jesus as an example of such: I think that he failed in citing the right example. It’s either he misunderstood Jesus or he misunderstood complete altruism. But I won’t blame him if he incurred such misunderstanding since it has been stated that the Man Jesus is both a lamb and lion. In the context of Jesus being a lamb, I think one will really get a picture of what complete altruism is – one willing to lay down his life even for ones who are utterly undeserving. However, looking at just that side of the person is missing the entire person. Because Jesus also talked about being a Judge and it can easily be seen how he is against most of the religious leaders of his time even calling them vipers.
And considering the claim Jesus made that He is God, I’d like to take note that the God He is referring to be is a God of both justice and grace. Saying that the extreme altruist substitutes the Golden Rule, “If you want the other fellow to scratch your back, you scratch his – even if he won’t reciprocate,” I think is stated out of a very important factor (considering that we’re still talking about Christians and Jesus being the Suckers) – love (and with it comes faith). It’s noted that instead of the negative “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you,” Jesus told his disciples a positive statement, “Do unto others what you want others do unto you.” This doesn’t simply imply “even if they won’t reciprocate,” but “even if they don’t reciprocate immediately.” The positive stated Golden rule is rooted in having faith on a person’s goodness, and with that, one is to initiate doing good.
It’s not just about doing good for goodness sake nor just for the immediate benefit of another person but for him or her to experience goodness and for this to grow his/her character (which in the end leads to a greater benefit for him and others). Being good might just be the encouragement others need to be good as well. I say, Jesus would have it as “If you want the other fellow to scratch your back, you scratch his – and believe that he will do the same (and it doesn’t even have to be your back)!” And I would also like to point out that he teaches “Don’t be overcome evil but overcome evil by good.”
The grooming that the Suckers do for the Cheaters is actually an invitation to the Cheaters to become Suckers as well. And I also think that getting what one deserves doesn’t depend on being a Sucker or a Cheater or a Grudger because it’s a principle of the universe, it’s just how things work. I mean, even if the Cheater hardens himself and decides to not pay back the goodness given him in any way (whether towards the person who did him good or towards others), the Sucker will still have his reward if not immediately, but in the end (the rationality given the pay-off of eternal life as stated on the essay, though a person could go beyond having future rewards as his/her motivation for doing good).
And as for the Cheater, he would have to suffer the consequences of the injustice that he lives on. And the Grudgers, I think they are of the same danger as the others and their way is a way to isolation too (which might eventually lead to extinction). I would have to agree to the last paragraph before the conclusion about the wisdom that is I think is not just subtlety hinted but directly and clearly commanded by Jesus in living among others in this world. And practically, our priority of taking care of other’s welfare should be directed to the ones who are closest to us but we should not limit ourselves to them. And looking back at the example of Jesus (and some of his martyr followers), he didn’t just died martyr or like a gullible man. His death wasn’t just actually a result of the prevailing injustice on the current system or a manipulation of some people of power but in one of the greatest paradox in history, it was his way of countering the death-leading system.
He wasn’t on a default ‘die-for-others-because-that’s-the-noble-thing-to-do’ mode. He thought about it, and he thought (with high wisdom at that) that it is the best way to defeat suffering and injustice. And I can see that he greatly succeeded on that. And also, he gave and sacrificed because in the first place, he had something to give and offer. I think this is actually a call to a high standard of living. The Suckers are the ones who have something to give in the first place. Taking into consideration the existence of the Divine, the Suckers might then be the channel for the sustenance and growth of life. The essay was a good read but as I mentioned earlier, I think Mackie just failed in giving the right real-life examples (or maybe those are the kinds of Christians he saw). As I consider myself a follower of Christ, I am very much sure that Jesus doesn’t want me to be a gullible to evil and his words
are commanding me to walk in wisdom and even promises to give me wisdom. As I came to understand more, His will is to let everyone live the life he intended for them – life to the fullest and with such big task considering the billions of peoples and the different cultures and upbringings of people, he is giving and requiring the use of strategies – not just zeal but wisdom as well. He is a lamb in gentleness and mercy but is a roaring untamed lion in raging war for the people he loves. And there are cases (like what happened on the cross) where the strategy will look like it is a mindless surrender to evil’s manipulation but in the end, will result in the defeat of evil and everything causing people to be selfish and die.