Cultural differences have existed as long as humanity. Our social forms and norms defined by place, time and strength of voice— dictating ethics for everyone belonging to a particular society or group. In the past, we would look at other cultures, see their ways, and make arguments for or against, but generally, as we rarely commingled, we left well enough alone.
In the 80’s or 90’s, as we became more global, the idea of cultural relativism gained ground. Our lives intersected more and more with people different from our own, and with this came a certain level of understanding and acceptance…not perfect by any means, but there was a desire by many groups to get along. In those days, we marched to ensure society as a whole would respect each other’s differences and ensure equal treatment under the law and in our workplaces. Diversity became popular.
Over time, many went further to say all cultures with their various beliefs and norms, were equal– equally good, on par with any other in terms of their rights to practice whatever. Every way became relative. This is when things began to get a bit contentious as it became hard to agree on the righteousness of it all.
I think we have reached some sort of tipping point where little is making sense and we’ve lost our civility. As humanity we are actually devoluting into marching masses fighting for kitchen sink of “causes”– anything we are or are not in terms of gender, sexuality, religion (except for Christians and certainly not the dreaded “evangelicals” who have beliefs that are too far right and unaccepting apparently…) and “status” such as legal, migrant, illegal etc.
Having studied philosophy, I’ve argued for and against positions just for the fun of it– without personal investment. Each position was taken based on foundational principles that were grounded– proven by ancient thinker who laid them first. You could choose a foundation and begin to build and reflect upon a structure of thought. The outcomes differed based on the chose base argument and comparisons could be made as to the merits. This is what is slipping away…a respect for well-grounded thought and the ability to logically discern any truth.
No. Let me correct myself on that. Society is not losing the ability to discern any truth, we are condemning the idea that there is “a truth.”
In fact, it has become popular to consider anyone who declares a cornerstone for living their life, as narrow-minded when in fact they have thought through their mere human existence, admitted they are limited in knowledge, and have sought a higher authority.
Ask yourself, is a self-reliant know-it-all who defines their reality really intelligent? On the other hand, what about the person who is afraid to commit to any real truth, who jumps on whatever bandwagon because it is the popular thing to do and in the next turn contradicts their former position because it is a new day? Or could it be, that the individual who chooses a particular certainty, even an unprovable one, and commits to their chosen overarching truth as the truth by which they can live and die, the one thinking this life well through?
When you march for everything you are in a sense marching for nothing at all, because without a foundation, the first cause as it were, the sand under your feet will eventually shift leaving you groundless.