June 2008


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Archive for June 13th, 2008

Rational Evil III

Friday, June 13th, 2008 by Elgin Hushbeck

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This week I continue my discussion of the development of secular thought following the holocaust. Last week I looked at how the foundation for Human Rights went from equal in the eyes of God to equal without any real definition as to how we are equal; and how for some equal then became the same, where any difference was to be denied; the example being the belief that men and women are the same. But there was a different and somewhat conflicting approach taken simultaneously: rather than deny any differences, differences were to be celebrated.

At first celebrating diversity might seem to be a somewhat problematic answer to the question of how we are equal.  But at the core of the celebration of differences is the ideal that differences do not really matter, for all differences are fundamentally the same.

This idea of diversity has been so ingrained, that many might even be wondering how I could see this as a problem. The reasons are twofold.  First, the idea that all differences are fundamentally equal is as untrue as the idea that differences do not exist, and both have led to a great deal of suffering and harm. Despite what the supporters of diversity preach, not all differences are equal. While some differences are irrelevant, many differences are significant.

When it comes to food, I think the celebration of differences is a good thing, though even here there would be some significant differences in food, at least in regards to health. But some difference, be they individual or cultural are not only significant, but some are clearly better than others, particularly when it comes to differences that touch on morality. While this may be heresy to those who support diversity, it remains nevertheless true and it is under the guise of cultural diversity that a lot of suffering and injustice is allowed continue.

For example, as I discussed last week, the belief that men and women are equal in the eyes of God is a Biblical truth taught in both the Old and New Testaments. As a result, I believe that cultures that follow this truth are better, at least in regards to their treatment of women, than societies that do not.

While this may seem a straight forward conclusion, for many strongly influenced by modern secular thought, it is one they find difficult to make. In order to maintain the notion of equality among differences, no judgment about those differences can be permitted. They may fight strongly for equality in their own country, but things that would otherwise be condemn such as the subjugation of women, dictatorship, and other forms of oppression in other countries often get little more that a response of “who are we to judge?”

Things that cannot be accepted, even under the guise of respecting cultural diversity, are frequently just ignored. Yet as cultures intermix, this becomes increasingly difficult. Honor killing is the ability or even duty of a father or brother to kill a woman who is believed to have brought dishonor to the family.  The dishonor, need not even be through some act committed directly by the woman, as victims of rape are seen has have brought dishonor upon the family.

While common in ancient cultures, honor killings were forbidden by the Old Testament in the Laws given by Moses. As Judeo-Christian values came to dominate, honor killings disappeared from Western Civilization. Yet they remain a part Arab culture even today.

While largely ignored when it occurred elsewhere, with immigration, it is now becoming a growing problem in the Western Cultures such as the United States, Canada, and Europe, though here there is an attempt to downplay these honor killings as merely “domestic violence” lest it appear that Western Civilization is somehow better.

This attitude of ‘who are we to judge’ has been taught to our children, and unfortunately, it is a lesson that some have learned far too well. For example, in late 2007 when a teenager learned that his friend had just murdered several people at a mall in Omaha, he had no judgment about the lives taken. No judgment about the family and friends whose lives would never be the same because of the loss of a loved one. No judgment about the wounded or their pain and suffering.  Instead he said, “I don’t think anything less of him… he wanted to go out in style.”

So in order to maintain equality among differences, one approach has been to celebrate differences without any judgment about them, which is fine when dealing with non-moral choices such as food. But when dealing with differences that have a moral component, it inevitable means ignoring pain and suffering, and in some cases even evil.

As Western Civilization has been casting off it Judeo-Christian roots, it would seem that it has also cast off the Bibles injunction; “Do not stand by while your brother’s blood is shed” (Leviticus 19:6), for we do now stand by, often in the name of cultural diversity.

This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.