The Smarting Flame of Relativism


Courtesy of Tom Readings Photography

You have your truth, I have mine. – Has there ever been a more absurd yet widely accepted idea? For those of you who are not aware of this theory, it is a widespread and intrusive plague that is more or less the bane of modern society. I can imagine that this all sounds rather dramatic and hyperbolic, if you care enough, however, read this, and then translate that into how contemporary governments and civilizations act. Relativism has penetrated society under the guise of liberation and freedom, and is now a philosophy that is widely accepted but rarely admitted to, one of its greatest assets is the denial of its existence. It needs to be exposed and eradicated.

The 21st century has spawned many concepts and beliefs, most of which have originated from man’s fallen thirst for self –acceptance and desire for so called liberation. None, however, have spewed more toxic fallout than Relativism. I would even go so far as to label Relativism as the scourge of the modern era. You don’t have to look far in order to find the infectious consequences this theory has had on society. Whether it is politics, religion, or any other forum in which there is human interaction; relativism has made its mark.

Everyone has the right to live the way they want and do what they want. It’s their right! Is this not a gross self-indulgence of man’s fallen nature?  Man should be educated on what is good for his development as a human being and instructed on how to recognize and respect the innate dignity that he and every other person has from conception to natural death. This culture of “everything goes” is hedonistic, selfish, decadent and in need of replacing! We should not be afraid of hurting people’s feelings. Our global community needs to grow a backbone and stand up and say “Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is such a thing as a moral absolute!”.

I should clarify that there are various branches of Relativism and that in this particular rant I am referring to moral relativism. This is basically the idea that there is no objective right and wrong thing to do, or way to behave, and that all forms of behaviour, no matter how contentious, should be accepted and tolerated. In the timeless words of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, “Tolerance applies only to people but never to principles and Intolerance applies only to principles but never to people.” This perfectly addresses and refutes the misconception that everyone has the right to believe and live in accordance with their own personal desires and ideologies. It is vital that this distinction is made. I am not insinuating that everyone should believe the same thing and behave the same way. I am, however, adamant that instead of accepting every whimsical idea of how to live and treat others that pops into John Smith’s head, we should sit Mr. Smith down and teach him. Teach him via Ethics, Theology, History, and Philosophy, and the classical education that forms a mind in such a way that it can correctly identify right from wrong.

Whether it is Mother Theresa, Robert Mugabe, Joseph Stalin, Mahatma Gandhi or your local shop owner down the road, every man has his struggles and every man falls, it is having the courage to look that man in the face and say “that is a wrong thing to do, let me show you what is right”, that will make the difference. I’m not suggesting that there is a simple magic formula that will eradicate all the world’s problems. Nevertheless, I believe that with a combination of a proper understanding of objective truth and the courage to stand up and witness to that truth, we can sow a seed of hope that can take us to a place where mankind can look at himself in the mirror and say “Relativism is no longer a pernicious threat to our society!”

Let’s extinguish this smarting flame.

By Anthony Readings, Intern at WYA HQ New York.