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Sunday, October 02, 2005

The War at Home

There is a war going right now in America, but not the kind you might think. It’s not a war of arms, power, or territory. It’s not a war on terror, and not the one in Iraq. This is a war of ideas, of the base social and societal beliefs of our country, and I fear it is being lost.

America is nothing if not diverse. We are diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, upbringing, and ideals. Our diversity makes us strong. It not only makes us an imaginative and healthy people, it also makes us some of the most tolerant people in the world, though there are those who argue against that. Diversity is also what is causing the “Idea War” that I am speaking of.

This war about the simple premise of right and wrong. There was a time when right and wrong was clear-cut, simple, and well known, but not anymore. There is confusion about this simple concept that has reached such an extreme degree that many people can honestly say that they don’t think that anything is universally right or universally wrong.

The culprit is a concept called cultural relativism. In its simplest terms cultural relativism means that right and wrong depends solely on what people claim to be right and wrong at the moment, and that right and wrong change as people’s attitudes change. The flipside, or rather, the opposing view is universalism, which states that right and wrong are the same regardless of society and age.

The opponents of the universal view of right and wrong state that it is based on religion, specifically Christianity and Judaism, and they are partly right. The primary motivator for the concept of universality of right and wrong is that there is a higher power who is interested in the workings of man and has set certain ground rules for human conduct. Of course, there are many religions in the world all claiming to be right and almost all of them are in theological and philosophical conflict all the rest. The idea that a religion by itself has the authority of right and wrong has problems of its’ own.

This brings history into the argument. All things become clear when viewed through the lens of history, provided of course that are viewing history as it actually happened. Historically, cultures that tolerate murder have fallen into bloodshed and chaos. Therefore murder must be one of those activities which is universally wrong. Historically cultures that are sexually decadent have fallen to plague from sexually transmitted diseases, degraded the family, which caused widespread wrongdoing among successive generations, and ultimately plunged into chaos. I have simplified the results of sexual decadence for this essay, but will go into greater detail at another time. Warlike cultures have fallen to war. Thieving nations have weakened themselves from within until a warlike nation conquered them. Hatred breeds violence, murder, and war. Idolatry breeds sexual decadence and ritual murder. Selfishness breeds all wrongdoing. The list goes on for a long time, and if you look at the history of man you will see that these statements are true.

History is repeating itself today.

Cultural relativism is promoted in our media and our schools. The concept of the great “I” is becoming ingrained to the point that the vast majority of young people have no clear concept of right and wrong, just a vague idea of anything being okay as long it doesn’t hurt anyone.

This is a sad and alarming development.

We are raising generations of people who honestly think that criminal activities, laziness, and decadent living are perfectly right as long you don’t hurt anyone. So rape and murder are wrong because someone gets hurt, but selling crack is okay because the only people getting hurt are the ones hurting themselves. Stealing is also good as long you really need what you steal. Promiscuity is actually encouraged because, as we all know, it’s perfectly safe as long you use a flimsy piece of rubber to protect yourself.

Let me prove to you once and for all that these ideas are all wrong.

Unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise worldwide, and in America itself. So promiscuity cannot possibly be harmless even with a flimsy piece of rubber to protect you. America’s prisons are overflowing with criminals. Some are petty crooks, others violent fiends that really just need to die. The point is that all of them have hurt themselves, and the people they victimized were hurt in some way as well. Oh yes, they are also hurting every taxpayer in America by wasting our money on their upkeep when they really need to be out doing honest work and contributing to society, not draining it.

On a worldwide scale Muslim nations are tolerant of hatred to non-Muslims, and some even encourage it. Just look at the result of that. Terrorist bombings, shootings, and kidnappings are everywhere in the world. It seems like nineteen out of every twenty terrorists in the world is a Muslim, if not more. Even genocide is not beyond this hatred. Now I don’t want to vilify Muslim nations, but I do want to point out that they do need to take control of this situation if they hope to prevent more wars in the future. Other nations will only tolerate so much terror before they react in the strongest possible ways. Just look at The U.S. after we got attacked on September 11th 2001. We reached the limit of our tolerance, and we went to war, and will continue to be at war for God only knows how long.

My point is that there is a definite universal code of right and wrong. I am also pointing out that there is nothing that Judaism and Christianity forbid that will bring about wars, immorality, disease, generalized criminal activity, or hatred to any nation. These five problems have brought down one society after another throughout history, and even if you don’t agree with the religion that spawned the moral that inspired most American law, you should at least be able to see the value of the moral teachings. Perhaps is we focused more on teaching our children these morals than on teaching them cultural relativism America would be a better, safer, healthier place. Think on it.

4 Comments:

  • While I agree with much of your arguments about universal rights and wrongs, I think you are mistaken when you credit religion for the source of these universal beliefs.

    You make a good point early in your post when you point out that societies that have ignored basic moral issues have ultimately failed because of that lack.

    However your contention that Judeo-Christian beliefs will lead us away from "wars, immorality, disease, generalized criminal activity, or hatred to any nation" are obviously wrong. Some of the worst wars, and much hatred, has been spread under the false mantle of these beliefs.

    Murder, rape, sexual promiscuity, theft, and other negative acts are all harmful to society, and as such should be punished. We don't need a moral guide from the past to tell us that.

    Your claim that most American law is derived from the Bible is inaccurate, as I point out on my blog in my post "The Ten Commandments Role in American Law"

    While I agree with you about the problems inherent in cultural relativism I don't agree that the solution is to promote the morals of any single religion.

    By Anonymous John Allen, at 11:47 AM  

  • Nice post; I think you're deserving of a blogroll.

    By Anonymous Steve the Pirate, at 12:02 PM  

  • Well-said despite the one comment that wants to impose its own form of relativism to what you have said.

    I might add that diversity is a strength (as you say), as long as it is accompanied by assimilation into the dominant culture.

    America has an ever-growing problem with non-assimilation, which will eventually lead to the Balkanization of the United States...and the eventual demise of the American culture.

    By Blogger Semper Fi, at 1:32 PM  

  • I'm enjoying reading your thoughts, sir, although I'm often disagreeing with what I read.

    On your comments here, I have a relativistic answer: you're neither all wrong nor all right.

    Having read what you've written already, I'd guess I could probably prove you've got a bit of relativism within your own philosophy. Ponder these two questions and see if relativism doesn't rear its ugly head:

    1. Is it wrong to target civilians, as the 9/11 terrorists did?

    2. Was it wrong for the US to target civilians in Hiroshima?

    I'm guessing you'd answer 1. Yes and 2. No.

    Having tried that little experiment, I'd suggest that there are very few actual relativists. We almost all have opinions about what is right and wrong.

    Those who oppose the Iraq War do so because they believe it to be unobjectively Wrong. Not because they're relativists, but because they do have values that say pre-emptive invasions are wrong, or targeting a non-threatening county is wrong or even that war is wrong.

    Some thoughts for consideration.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 11:01 AM  

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