The small dust of the balance


Just over 30 years ago now Allan Bloom published his bestselling critical analysis of American modern society titled ‘The Closing of the American Mind’

In it, he postulated that a total embrace of relativism had given birth to a new generation of people who no longer were able to think critically.Quote

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.

If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2+2=4. These are things you don’t think about.

The students’ backgrounds are as various as America can provide. Some are religious, some atheists; some are to the left, some to the right; some intend to be scientists, some humanists or professionals or businessmen; some are poor, some rich.

They are unified only in their relativism and in their allegiance to equality. And the two are related in a moral intention.

The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it.” – Allan Bloom, ‘The Closing of the American Mind’ End of quote.

The emergence in recent years of the ‘active shooter’ phenomenon in America, is in my opinion, a symptom of a much more profound and significant problem. The immediate reaction to these horrible events is an ongoing debate about ‘gun culture’ and the restriction of firearms to American citizens but this is a rather superficial argument and does not address the real fundamental issue which leads to such events occurring in the first place.

Let us all be absolutely clear as to why these horrific crimes are happening. It is because the value of human life has been largely lost. This is the only rational explanation for the random and brutal nature of these mass shootings. Which begs the question, why? Why has the value of life been so eroded?

Why has American society lost so much respect and value for human life?

In my opinion Blooms’ analysis did not go far enough. His emphasis was on the inevitable results of an absence of critical thinking leading to a negation of objective truth. I am arguing that while critical thinking is important it is in our spiritual nature that we are most fundamentally influenced. For the students had another thing in common, something we all do. We are all going to die.

This may sound rather morbid but it’s very true and the history of humanity is an eternal story of how we not only manage this existential crisis of being but also find meaning within it.

The emergence of relativism in the 19th century and its complete adoption as a fundamental truth has created a population of people who are no longer able to remove themselves from the centre of their existence and weigh thoughts and reason against something infinite and external.

Everything we are and think of these days is done from an entirely person-centered perspective. Even objective reasoning is taught and measured through the filter of ourselves as being the center of the universe with no thought whatsoever given to a universal moral compass giving us a fixed point of reference to work from.

Some two thousand years ago a man walked upon the earth who spoke of many things among them being: faith; hope and love.

He asked the question ‘if you only ever love those who love you back then where is the reward?’

The main point of this man’s teachings, as I understand it to be, was to both recognise and celebrate the divine nature of others’ lives and by doing so achieve a path to inner peace and salvation.

While it is somewhat impossible to achieve the ideals outlined in the teachings of Christ, it nevertheless is an ideal which can be strived for and in the action of doing so create a much more harmonious life for both ourselves and those we come into contact with every day.

It is I believe a great irony that a bulk of the new generations thirst for justice is in itself a highly egotistical action in itself, completely tied up with an entirely subjective reasoning with no mind towards a greater and more noble ideal. Heads down instead of up. looking at screens. Not at each other.

Not all: but many.

The abandonment of Christian virtue has been replaced by a sense of moral relativism whose ultimate destination is: pride; isolation; anger; fear; greed; envy and the inevitable loss of value for ourselves and our environment.

When looking at how America has endeavoured to manage this loss of belief it is unsurprising and saddening to see the high levels of drug addiction and violence.

Rampant individualism has led to a society whose values have shifted from the moral certainty offered by the teachings of Christ to materialism and inevitable spiritual decay. No longer is life valued and honoured by charitable virtue and generosity of spirit but rather by how much money one earns and how many possessions we own.

Add to this malaise of the soul both prescription and illicit drug taking and you have a recipe for absolute disaster.

In order for American society to become a safer and more inclusive one, it needs to begin acting in a much more counter-intuitive fashion in regards to the emphasis on the ‘Individual’ its’ constitution enshrines.

Only a return to a tendency for humility of thought and action will arrest the rot already set in.

We are living in times of untold bondage. The number of people living in slavery. People trafficked. People living in poverty on such a scale that seems unimaginable.

But the scale of such impossibility is a perfect place for miracles to take shape. Every day.

It’s the oldest story we know and no amount of evil can outweigh the small moments of gratitude and simplicity which we share with each other in every moment.

The moments that make the difference: measured in the small dust of the balance.



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  • Fifth generation Kiwi, social-political writer who left the Left sometime back and turned right. Heavily reliant on spell check with hopefully the intelligence to admit when he’s wrong and the humility to see the truth, irrespective of where it’s found.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.