I think about these things a lot and I read about them and I’m sure that it is because within each of us, as human persons, there is a natural affinity for humanity. In all of this there is a conundrum. It begins with the post-modern fragmentation of humanity and takes on the form of movement in the modern term tolerance. In the Enlightenment the emphasis was on the individual as self-determining and detached from any external authority. Beauty and truth is in the eye of the beholder became the banner cry. From there the individual (the subjective) is liberated from authority (the objective.) At that point humanity is at a precarious juncture. Like a puppy that has broken free of its leash and finds itself in the wide, wide world but does not know where to go or what to do. So it does what any free spirit does, it begins to run around aimlessly with no purpose but that it is not on the leash anymore.
Back to humanity, newly freed in the enlightenment, the individual in the vast world of individualism finds itself in and amongst other individuals, running free and trying to find identity and purpose. But they soon notice that there are some people who did not take advantage of the liberation and cling to the objective, to the free, they seem to be fools. (This is no longer the hypothetical puppy, but real progression of human society in the past 300 years.) Soon this free society comes together, and begins acknowledging their freedom within the group, even though each individual is not about to conform to any group agreement. So the only thing to do is to agree to remain free individuals, tolerating (here’s the key word of the conundrum) each other in the other’s freedom, but there are those “out there” who foolishly think there is objective truth that binds all human beings. Now, there is something to rally around. “Let’s get together and force them to tolerate us. They must be intolerant of us or they would be with us, as we are our self among others “selfs.” We cannot tolerate this intolerance!” Now at this point, we see the circular self-contradiction of modernity gone post-modern. By its very charter, it will always come to a self-contradiction, the unfortunate things is they don’t even recognize the self-contradiction. If there is no objective truth, then this statement, “there is no truth” declares itself false, or is it true, no I think it is false . . .
So we find ourselves, all of us (humanity: we are all part of that group,) in the reality of the 21st century, in a tug of war between intolerance of intolerance, which demands tolerance and will not tolerate anything else.
Here’s the conundrum. If there is a movement to solve a problem and the problem needs solving, but the movement has bad methodology, when we speak out against the methodology, we are accused of not wanting to solve the problem. It reaches a point that this becomes an intentional tactic. One side deliberately proposes bad methodology to solve a universal problem knowing the other side will complain about the methodology and is immediately open to accusation. On and on it goes. It is a conundrum because there is little we can do to overcome the double wall (methodology-problem)bound together with ideological glue. Shoot at one, you are going to hit the other because they are made to be “one” for the shooting gallery.
The conundrum remains until we can find a way to speak into the double layer of method and problem, and that has not happened yet. In the culture struggle with same-gender “marriage” for example. The greatest of scholars came to the forefront armed with the Natural Law argument which for all prognosticators was a sure win. What we forgot or had not learned yet was that post-modernity, in its fragmentary individualism, is a moving target.
Confronted with the Natural Law argument, post-modernity simply stepped aside and said, “that doesn’t apply to me/us.” “But it applies to all human beings,” we shouted, it is the essence of human nature. Again the response was simple and effective: “that doesn’t apply to me/us, human nature is a construct of the authoritative overlord that you continue to cling to. We broke free of that years ago. There is no such thing as human nature, I am an individual, liberated, self-determining person; not bound to a nature or any such laws. I am free!”
So goes or went the short lived debate against same-gender “marriage.” We lost. We lost the dodge-ball match because we thought they were supposed to stand still. Now, we find ourselves an easy target for accusation of intolerance, again. What are we to do? That is the conundrum!
If you say the Muslim religion is based on violence in the name of Ala, they respond, “I’ll kill you for saying that!” We are surrounded by a fragmented humanity with, each fragment demanding subjective tolerance from the objective position. The problem is, objectivity, by definition takes a stand, whereas subjectivity has the advantage of moving around, disappearing and reappearing, re-inventing itself, grouping together or standing as one, it’s just not a fair game. Our only hope is in the end game.
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I was envious of the arrogant when I saw their prosperity. For they suffer no pain; their bodies are healthy and sleek. They are free of the burdens of life; they are not afflicted like others. Thus pride adorns them as a necklace; violence clothes them as a robe.
They scoff and spout their malice; from on high they utter threats. They set their mouths against the heavens, their tongues roam the earth.
Is it in vain that I have kept my heart pure, washed my hands in innocence?
For I am afflicted day after day, chastised every morning.
Had I thought, “I will speak as they do,” I would have betrayed this generation of your children.
Though I tried to understand all this, it was too difficult for me, Till I entered the sanctuary of God and came to understand their end.
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We must continue to take our stand in the fortress of objective truth, beauty and goodness. We must gather our young into our fold and comfort them with the blanket of truth. The struggle is within our ramparts even as we send out warriors to proclaim the truth to the arrogant, and that we must do. The truth is our defense as well as a sanctuary for lost souls. It is what it is, even as it is scoffed with the age old question, “Truth, what is truth?” When arrogance and ignorance speak to Truth, the argument is only won in silence.