“He who is lost in his passion is less lost than he who has lost his passion.” #SaintAugustine
— Theology of the Body (@JP2_TOB) March 20, 2013
“We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration. – Wikipedia (that glorious and all-knowing resource…)
Relativism. The idea that there is nothing that is absolutely true. The belief that, “what may be true for me, may not be true for you!” Perhaps the most dangerous ideology of our time.
Relativism is so dangerous because it is so easy. It is so easy to hide our principles away when we might become annoyances, or unpopular, perhaps even hated for them. Therein lies the trap. Even Hitler was passionate about his damnable cause, and even suicide bombers burn for their beliefs – literally. But relativism offers us an easy way out; it gives us the ability to say – in the finest tradition of certain politicians – “personally, I believe that this is wrong, but I’m not going to push my views on anyone else.”
It’s a lure, to “go with the crowd” because so many people just can’t be wrong!
Now, of course, distinction must be made between subjective and objective truth. “My lady is the most beautiful woman in the room,” may be subjective (well, at least for all of you (I jest (lolz no, seriously))), but I think we can all agree that, “Woman is the definition of beauty,” is an objective truth (and I will defend this). Just so, “Ubuntu is better than Windows and OS X,” or, “Broadswords are better than Katana,” are subjective and therefore relative, but, “I think, therefore I am,” and, “nothing comes from nothing,” are objectively true, no matter what anyone else thinks to the contrary. Just wanted to clear that up (I’m just waiting for someone to say “Well those ‘objective truths’ may be true to you, but I don’t believe so!” (air quotation-marks included)).
We see a lot of relativistic thinking in our world today. Perhaps the best example of this is Vice President Joe Biden’s, “Life begins at conception; that’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life; I just refuse to impose that on others.”
Isn’t it so tempting to utilize that mindset in our daily lives? “Well, I believe that cheating is wrong, personally, but it would be presumptuous of me to give my buddy a talking-to about his habit of flirting around.” etc.
Of all slopes, relativism is the most slippery. One day you’re saying, “personally, I believe trying to redefine marriage is wrong, but I’m not going to impose that belief on others,” then the next day it’s, “I’m personally opposed to incest, but who am I to judge?” and the day after that, “polygamy is wrong in my eyes, but I won’t enforce that in the lives of others,” and so on.
All law and order is based on the objective Truth of Natural Law. Why is killing “bad”? If I were to be born with desires to kill a man, would it be right for me to do so? I hope that anyone reading this would answer with a resounding no. But why? Because murder is objectively and completely wrong. The problem with relativism is that there is no such thing as an absolute truth, so it holds that murder – and by extension, every other reprehensible act – is not absolutely wrong.
As I was thinking this over, it occurred to me that as soon as we get to a relativistic view of murder, we are in real trouble. Then it hit me: we’re already at that point, and past it. Hello, abortion.
“Personally, I am against the crushing of skulls, suctioning of brains, snipping of spines, ripping off of appendages, and clean-up-by-vacuum of whatever we did to that thing (that always seems to magically turn into a human baby when we pull it out naturally) that inexplicably got inside and began to grow inside this poor woman’s womb, but I can’t impose those beliefs on others.”
Isn’t that the most horrific thing? If you knew that ^this^ – which is legal as described above in the United States of America – is actually socially acceptable, would you not be outraged? Welcome to reality.
This is not a post meant to defend the objective truths that I have mentioned above (maybe some other time). This is simply meant to highlight the necessity of conviction.
If we hold something to be true, then it is our duty to defend and uphold that truth. Though perhaps less defensible in a court of law – there is something more honest in doing something wrong while believing it to be good, than doing good while believing it to be wrong.
Is there anyone who would not be deemed a coward, who simply stands by and allows a murder, or theft, or rape to happen before him without protest? Good zombies man, wake up! We are compelled to speak up when we see wrong because it is the right thing to do. To do anything else is the height of cowardice.
This is the cowardice that relativism glorifies, because it holds personal desires as the absolute authority. It says, and causes us to say “You decide what is right and what is wrong for yourself! You decide what is truth and deception!” With this, every defense, every law, every fact of life is undermined. How can murder be absolutely wrong if there is no absolute truth? If I am driven to kill by an “uncontrollable desire” to murder, does not relativism vindicate me? I would have only been doing what was right for me! We have laws against murder set in place by the people. Is murder suddenly allowable if the people desire to overturn those laws? No!
This isn’t to say, go out and pick fights with everyone you disagree with. This is to say that our actions need to be consistent with our beliefs. No more of this lukewarm business. If you are against abortion, then fight abortion furiously. If you believe that the Catholic Church is wrong, then be furiously against the Catholic Church. Be passionate in your convictions, but seek Truth; always seek Truth. Better an honest adversary than a false friend.
The reason that Samurai liked to leave the spying and assassinations to Ninja (however cool Ninja may be) is because they perceived duplicity as supremely dishonorable and cowardly. This excerpt from the 1911 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook says it well: “It is horrible to be a coward. It is weak to yield to fear and heroic to face danger without flinching.” We are called to greatness, but there is nothing great in wavering vacillation.
May God grant us the grace to defend Truth passionately, courageously, and charitably.
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer