Keep Right with Ralph K. Ginorio MEANS VERSES ENDS

Are we each, as individual human beings, an end unto ourselves or a means to a greater end? Does the universe exist to serve us, or do we exist to serve the universe?

For example, most men and women would willingly sacrifice of themselves in order to save a child. Boys and girls must be protected as the greatest of treasures, or they might be easily exploited, enslaved, or even extinguished. Parents willingly make themselves the means to the end of providing for a child’s wellbeing.

On the other hand, Communists say that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Empowered Marxists compel everyone to sacrifice of their own opportunities to ensure the collective good. Individuals are the means to attain the collective’s ends.

Today, some advocate for the complete fluidity of gender, and its divorce from biological sex, as a means to the end of normalizing the lives of people whose sexuality lies beyond the traditional mainstream within human civilizations. Society must constantly conform to the mutually exclusive demands of each distinct individual.

For Christians, the “Little Gospel” (John 3:16) offers insight. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The good of human beings seems to be God’s intent.

All Monotheists assert that every human is made in God’s image. Each one of us is animated by a spark of the Divinity. What makes us alive is a direct connection to God.

Because of this, the Judeo-Christian tradition at the heart of our Western Civilization insists that every human being without exception has dignity and priceless value.

The Enlightenment Philosophers who inspired our American Revolution emphasized Natural Rights. The most influential of these, John Locke, reasoned that “life, liberty, and property” were God-given, self-evident, and inalienable Natural Rights.

Within the Western tradition, life is sacred. Excepting war, execution, and self-defense, individuals are forbidden from ending human life. Only legitimate governments are empowered to deal death, and then only through legal means and as a last resort.

Liberty, the freedom to make important decisions, should be as broad as possible within the requirements of a civil society. Only convicted criminals, whose abuses have harmed others, should have the scope of their choices curtailed.

Property is the reward of our enterprise and our primary security against human and natural threats. People without property are helpless, needing the wealthy and powerful to provide the means for their ongoing survival. Only when we are entitled to keep what we earn can we secure for ourselves the means to survive.

Jefferson later altered Locke’s third inalienable right, property, into the more vague pursuit of happiness. He did this because, like many of the Founding Fathers, he wanted to prevent slavery within our newly independent nation. However, other Southerners made it clear that any attempt to manumit the slaves would cause them to abandon the rebellion.

So, Jefferson altered his words so that future advocates of slavery could not use his Declaration as justification. He understood that property is the indispensable means by which we can achieve a modicum of happiness.

Each and every human being is, indeed, an end. However, if we take this notion too far, the inevitable result is Narcissism. This unhealthy and unlimited self-absorption treats everything and everyone beyond the all-important self as a mere means to their own personal satisfaction.

Entire categories of evil are rooted in Narcissism. The worst excesses in contemporary culture come from an insistence by self-obsessed people that the world must instantly conform to every one of their transitory whims.

Narcissists are incapable of living lives of responsible freedom. Their choices inevitably lead to decadence and self-destruction. The pleasure principle has an insatiable need for novelty. Eventually, it becomes impossible to discover new sensations. The inevitable result of protracted Narcissism is despair. Worse, while all of this frantic play was being indulged, none of the necessary work was being done.

Our humanity is stillborn until we personally accept the duty to serve a greater good. Only when we exert ourselves in duty to our convictions do our lives have meaning. Only then do we become adults.

Only adults are fit for freedom. Only those who are mature enough to be responsible are willing to do the difficult work to earn survival and prosperity. Only people who are internally motivated by empathy, ethics, morality, philosophy, and faith will reliably do the right thing in the absence of immediate reward or punishment.

If the cultural institutions within our American Republic continue to emphasize Narcissism over adulthood, our freedoms will evaporate into a new slavery. We must acculturate more adults than Narcissists if we hope to remain free.

* * *

In Maine and then Idaho, Ralph K. Ginorio has taught the history of Western Civilization to High School students for about a quarter-century. He is an “out-of-the-closet” Conservative educator with experience in Special Education, Public Schools, and Charter Schools, Grades 6-12. He has lived in Coeur d’Alene since 2014. "Keep Right with Ralph K. Ginorio" is available on the "Idaho Speaks" and "Conservatives' Guide" podcast networks, as well as in the "Kootenai Journal" newspaper. Email:

Recent Posts

See All

Our American Republic is in the midst of a series of historical crises that will determine whether or not we each will continue to be economically and politically free members of a recognizable Judeo-