"Many believe we now enter a new dark age in which the skills and abilities, depths and beauties, treasures and wisdoms, of American culture as we’ve known it will be undermined, forgotten and largely lost due to our own malaise and neglect."
There’s a world of difference between tolerance and relativism. Many seem to be confused about the distinctions. In fact, seems many are just plain confused, having traded in a true sense of tolerance for the false nonsense of relativism.
Tolerance embraces. It is a thoughtful, fair and healthy detachment from self interests, expressed in simple acts of charity: Forbearance of (without being overwhelmed or taken in by) others’ troubles or foibles; respect for (without being threatened by or trying to change) personal or cultural differences; appreciation of (without having to like or be like) fellow humans who are unique in themselves and each a child of God. Tolerance operates within a tried-and true, hard-earned set of civilized social norms and laws; and it assumes and promotes goodness and unity among people.
Relativism corrupts. It is a contorted way of thinking, firmly grounded in selfish motives and acted out in bold transgressions: A belief that standards of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and lies are not absolute but changeable to suit the challenger’s wishes or lifestyle choices. Relativists confront the standard bearers and demand that exceptions be made to accommodate them. Rather than change themselves to conform or fit in, relativists expect everyone else to embrace their eccentricities; and they’re forceful about it. Those who resist relativists’ divisive advances are labeled “intolerant.”
Relativism is popular today – mostly euphemized as “tolerance,” which was a good idea in the 1990s that promoted an understanding for diversity among cultures in America. Rather than advancing unity among diverse people, though, -- “out of many, one” -- relativism pulls and magnifies the one out of the many and pushes that selfish agenda to force compromises that butt law and common sense and generate turmoil, confusion and chaos – within the social and individual psyches. Relativism threatens to reverse the evolution of law and religion, civilization and civility, wherever it persists.
Many believe we now enter a new dark age in which the skills and abilities, depths and beauties, treasures and wisdoms, of American culture as we’ve known it will be undermined, forgotten and largely lost due to our own malaise and neglect. Many also believe we can – indeed, must -- take steps to preserve our way of life and, in a sense, save samples and store seeds to be sown again when the dark age passes.
In his book, Crunchy Cons, a catchy title to describe “earthy conservatives” -- not members of a political movement, but rather back-to-basics folks of like-mind from all creeds and cultures who strive to conserve what is best about America (family, faith, tradition; goodness, truth, beauty) -- Rod Dreher urges readers to re-learn practical facts and skills and build interconnected communities and families that are devoted to each other and to passing on knowledge and common sense to future generations.
Dreher, a journalist, doesn’t call for a concerted retreat from the wiles of the world. Rather, he urges engagement in a sort of concentric approach to living healthfully and interdependently in greater awareness of how individual choices and actions affect the people, the environment and the economy around us. His is an interesting view on the direction in which we might choose that our world could go.
(copyright Nancy E. Thoerig 08-15-2008)