Philosophical Debate in Vienna
On my study abroad in Vienna, I had all sorts of interesting conversations with my "host dad" about our differing world views. I loved talking with him even though (and perhaps especially because) we saw everything from completely opposite ends of almost every spectrum. His view of America's founding, for example, was such that it reduced all who came to settle our country as dishonest, rebellious, traitorous, fortune-seeking criminals. *Cough.*
One morning at breakfast, we had a rousing debate about the issue of absolute truth vs. moral relativism. He boldly declared with a mischievous smile, "You tell me something that you think is always wrong, and I will show you a situation where it is right!" With my wobbly German, I was never able to express as eloquently to my host father then, what has become so much clearer in my mind and tongue in recent years, "How could you so brazenly claim to be able to discern how the application of any choice might be 'right' or 'wrong' at all, if you have truly rejected the idea of absolute truth?"
(Not-so-common, even, Counter-culture) Common Sense
The answer: not without hypocrisy that totally undermines the whole notion that truth is relative. It is impossible to make the argument that there can be a right or wrong to any question, when one's guiding premise is that there is no force which governs morality in the universe.
In my experience with my host dad, and myriad others, I have discovered a pattern of thought in debate. Essentially, all positions can be boiled down to one of these two world views:
- Universal, unchanging truth exists. If Right and Wrong were appropriately used to guide our decisions, there would be more joy and prosperity for all humanity and more bounty on the Earth.
- There is no right and wrong, only preferences. All ideas and value systems and choices are equal. "Only (ironically, hypocritically) those who believe in right and wrong are, 'wrong.'"
Only one (and I'll let you use your best guess to determine which) of those two world views can hold up to critical thought. Only one values the power of the rational human mind, and encourages people to live on a higher moral plane than animals. Only one, quite surprisingly and beautifully, allows for diversity of ideas. That one is True. The other view is a bold-faced lie that people have been lapping up from the sewers of progressive ideology for far too long, and our society is now sick from that rancid water. Sick, because more people than don't, now actually believe (or live) as though it doesn't matter what you believe or how you live, you should just do whatever "feels" right to you.
The Society of the Blind
Our society has essentially been brainwashed into this Lie. I say brainwashed, because once this idea that "all ideas, values systems, and choices are equal" is accepted, the host has pretty much forfeited his/her ability to reason critically.
When someone, such as myself, presents something they believe is true, ultimately, those who very much subscribe to the Lie that all beliefs are equally valid (while denying the validity of mine . . .) only have this pitiful submission to offer, "You are just being so judgmental and so close-minded! You're so extreme! You live in an echo chamber! Live and let live! Other people think different stuff, too! You're a meanie!"
I can't express how many times I have engaged in a debate where I offer rational thought, evidence, and solid rebuttals to weak suggestions, against which the opposite side only responds with Argumentem Ad Hominem (distracting attacks on the opponent, to avoid discussing the actual topic) including jokes about my faith.
As one who steadfastly holds to the world view that there is Truth and Lie, Right and Wrong, I take pause to examine, each time I share an opinion and am undoubtedly accused from the opposition, whether I have truly been an unjust "meanie." Because, you see, I believe there is a right and wrong way to share an idea - and I - like everyone else, will be held accountable for how I did that, as well as whether the message I was trying to spread was correct (as far as my understanding of the issue allowed me to discern.)
But seriously, the hypocrisy of progressive ideologues labeling me with distasteful names every time I expound on an issue I believe to be Right or Wrong, is amusing at best. If a person can't do wrong, if all ideas are equal, then how could anything I do or say be categorized as mean? How could I be judgmental? How could I be close-minded? Let alone, "wrong." No negative or positive labels should exist for an honest proponent of moral relativism. There is no such thing as an honest proponent of such a philosophical lie. I'm not saying that to be "mean," either. It's just the plain Truth.
Truth Subscribers should also be Truth-Seekers
I feel sad when I read personal attacks from moral relativists. They get me and other truth-subscribers so wrong. Because - truth be told - quite contrary to the suggestion from those who oppose my world views, I love to learn the Truth about every issue I possibly can. The Truth about all the issues matter to me. As a person who subscribes to the idea that there is Truth, it is in my very nature to be a truth-seeker. And you know what?
As a truth-seeker, I love to hear other truth-seekers expound on what matters most to them. I believe that every person who believes in truth, has some truth and light to offer to me, to you and to the world. And sometimes, when those individuals who subscribe to moral relativism choose to be philosophical hypocrites, even they offer snippets of truth, too. ;)
We all care about different bits of truth:
some about how certain foods and exercise affect our bodies,
some about how animals are treated before they are processed into the food we eat,
some about which wars we are engaging in or that we engage in them at all,
some about how school systems are run,
some about how best to be self-reliant,
some about what equality between the sexes looks like,
some about how most ethically to run a business,
some about the problems with the health industry,
some about how we should treat and interact with others,
some about which God(s) we should worship and how,
some about how much we choose to spend our spare time,
some about how we view sexuality,
some about how we give birth to and raise our children,
some about how to maintain freedom,
some about how we feel about human life,
some about how we maintain our vehicles or homes,
some about the size of our home and the number of possessions we have,
some about how we define marriage,
some about how we develop our character,
some about how certain companies or banks manage their (our) money,
some about how we manage our own money and resources,
some about how we care for the Earth
and on and on and on and on.
And I? "Close-minded", "judgmental" little me who lives in a so-called, "echo chamber?" I want to hear it all. Put it out there. Put it out there for the world to read and to see and to dissect. Put it out there and honest truth-seekers will gain from it. I will gain from it. And I'll share my bits of truth right along with you.
If you believe something is true so much so that you believe if others believed and lived like you do, that the world would be a better place - I want to hear about it, and other people should hear about it, too. You won't hear me call you names, that's for certain. If you present it in a debate format, and I feel passionately some other way, I may prod where I see holes, in the nicest and most civil way I can, of course. Visa versa, too, I would hope. And that is a wonderful thing. This is how good ideas grow and spread. That's how truth is discovered. Not at the end of debate threads, laced with lazy ad hominem attacks.
I love people who are willing to open themselves up to share the things they believe are true, that they believe others would benefit from knowing and living. It takes a whole heck of a lot more courage to share something you feel to be morally true, than to deny any existence of truth.
Moral relativists on the other hand - the so-called "open-minded" ones so rampant in modern-day society - those are the ones who try so desperately to get me and you to shut up. Name-calling, intimidation, PC policing, whining - they do it all. They give their hypocritical affirming nods or "likes" on facebook to those who write comments that try to stifle truth-speakers. It's irritating. It's grating. It's tiring.
Speak up anyway.
Ultimately, it is the truth-subscribers/seekers who gain most from conversations about the morality of certain choices or views. They will be enriched and grow as they learn the actual meaning of tolerance - you know, living peaceably with people, even though they espouse and openly express and live different ideas about what the Truth to every question is. They will also undoubtedly come closer to the real truth on every issue.
While at the end of the day, we probably won't agree on every (or perhaps even any issue), we will have done our duty: we will have been honest keepers of the truth - because honest keepers of truth, share it.
Yes, in today's morally-relativistic culture: true rebels share their opinions, and they do it with great confidence. So if you want to be a rebel - courageously and boldly believe in something, be as true as you can in living it - and then share it until you're blue in the face. I'll give a listen, I'll let my mind chew on it for a while, and if it makes it through my chewing process, I might add it into my sharing repertoire. One thing is certain, you can be confident that my face will be bright blue, right next to yours.
Tell me Subscribers-to-truth: What would you shout from the rooftops if you could? What bit(s) of Truth do you care about most?