The main difference is that the enlightened believe that the poor criminal should be rehabilitated while the righteous believe that the immoral criminal should be locked up in jail. Since almost the only available system of rehabilitation in America is to be locked up in jail, the difference remains highly abstract.
Son, never trust a man who doesn’t drink because he’s probably a self-righteous sort, a man who thinks he knows right from wrong all the time. Some of them are good men, but in the name of goodness, they cause most of the suffering in the world. They’re the judges, the meddlers. And, son, never trust a man who drinks but refuses to get drunk. They’re usually afraid of something deep down inside, either that they’re a coward or a fool or mean and violent. You can’t trust a man who’s afraid of himself. But sometimes, son, you can trust a man who occasionally kneels before a toilet. The chances are that he is learning something about humility and his natural human foolishness, about how to survive himself. It’s damned hard for a man to take himself too seriously when he’s heaving his guts into a dirty toilet bowl.
I reckon it does take a powerful trust in the Lord to guard a fellow, though sometimes I think that Cora’s a mite over-cautious, like she was trying to crowd the other folks away and get in closer than anybody else.
I did not intend making a philippic against covetousness, a sin to which I believe no one here is addicted. Let us not, however, plume ourselves in not being guilty of a vice to which, as we have no natural bias so in not committing it, we resist no temptation. What I meant to insist on was, that exchanging a turbulent for a quiet sin, or a scandalous for an orderly one, is not reformation.
The feeling of righteousness is the core mood alteration among religious addicts. Religious addiction is a massive problem in our society. It may be the most pernicious of all addictions because it’s so hard for a person to break his delusion and denial. How can anything be wrong with loving God and giving your life for good works and service to mankind?
Faith should be a tool to set us free, not a means to fuel a fascist agenda seeking to impede the civil liberties of the "us"s. The first shall be last and the last shall be first... therefore, those who stand for their Pius self-righteousness in order to trample those they deem inferior will be the 'last' and the poor and oppressed shall be 'first.' If the self-righteous want a lesson on morality, then actually take a lesson from Jesus whose best friend was a former hooker and whose mother was a single parent.
[D]on’t cling to your self-righteous suffering, let it go. . . . Nothing is too good to be true, let yourself be forgiven. To the degree you insist that you must suffer, you insist on the suffering of others as well. (90)
When the subject is sacred, proud and clever men may come to think that the outsiders who don't know it are not merely inferior to them in skill but lower in God's eyes; as the priests said, 'All that rabble who are not experts in the Torah are accursed.' and as this pride increases, the 'subject' or study which confers such privilege will grow more and more complicated, the list of things forbidden will increase, till to get through a single day without supposed sin becomes like an elaborate step-dance, and this horrible network breeds self-righteousness in some and haunting anxiety in others.
When you think yours is the only true path you forever chain yourself to judging others and narrow the vision of God. The road to righteousness and arrogance is a parallel road that can intersect each other several times throughout a person's life. It’s often hard to recognize one road from another. What makes them different is the road to righteousness is paved with the love of humanity. The road to arrogance is paved with the love of self.
You don't read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.