After population control, the biggest problem Man faces is the never-ending friction between the absolute and the relative. Too much belief in absolutes produces intolerance, argument, pogrom and war. And the casual acceptance of relativism leads to indifference, muddle and depravity. Allow only one answer, and sooner or later there will be injustice. Accept everything without thought for the consequences, and sooner or later there will be injustice.
Perhaps therefore the only way to achieve tranquility in life is
simply to say, “There will be injustice”. Perhaps. For even here, one
can say, “There will always be injustice, but we must try nevertheless
to eradicate it”; or alternatively, “There will always be injustice,
grow up and get over it”. I am in the former camp, and would be the
first to admit it is a smallish minority. For most people, a reasonable
enough combination of being busy, distracted, poor, creative, selfish
and/or neurotic restricts much of their thinking to the immediate, the
urgent, the family, and the bills.
The real trouble starts when societies seem to be divided between
tyrannical absolutism and cynical relativism. The overwhelming majority
of ‘advanced’ Western cultures display this riven structure today, and
it is far greater than it was in my youth. Thirty years before my
adolescence, it was in turn riven to an extent that led to war; a
hundred years before that it was omnipresent. It was really only during
the period 1950-1970 that consensus politics reigned in much of the
West. Not unrelated to this (I believe) is the fact that human
socio-material advance has never been more widespread than it was in
that era. As to which was the chicken and which the egg, we could debate
for years and still not reach a definitive answer.
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