Recent Posts

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

On subjectivity, relativism, narcissism and victim thinking

I have been listening to the speech of the person in the street, and in particular groupings, such as church congregations, either at coffee mornings or in the cyber cafes and so on. One of the things that has been noticeable, is that young people and older alike, are perceiving the language in a new way. This way once would have been described "defensive behavior", attributed to a few people who we all have met, who are "prickly", take every statement personally, and psychologically are on the "defensive". In the past, before, I would note, two years ago, this type of response to facts was a rare occasion. Now, the response is widespread, and I am convinced is related to three things.

The first is that the younger generations, in their 20s and 30s, have not been trained in logical discourse, also known as critical thinking, and do not think or hear objectively. For example, a friend of mine was in a grocery store in the Autumn and a mother was abusive to both of her children by literally screaming at them in the store and these children were very small. She merely said to the woman with her, "The woman is yelling at her children"; she was considering whether the extent of the problem was serious enough for her to step in. The children were afraid of the mother. The companion said, "Oh, do not judge her." My friend had not. She had made a statement of truth-noting that a mother was yelling at her children. Again, with a young man in his twenties, I noted that "Caroline is going into hospital for mental illness and we need to pray for her." The response was, again, "Do not criticize." Factual statements are being taken as judgement, which in times past, was not the case. Again, I noted the other day that more Coptic Christians were being persecuted in the continent of Africa. The response, "Well, we shouldn't judge." If one shares facts, without comment, without harsh or even unambiguously objective words, such things are taken as "criticisms" or judgement.

I label that the lack of objective thinking and the lack of separating fact from criticism. 

The second reason for this phenomenon is that the modern mind has been formed by relativism and narcissism.  Despite the fact of objectivity being a lost as a rational art, relativism has permitted a cultural attitude, now reflected in language, where one cannot say anything about differences or categories. Example, I was in a conversation with two seminarians about hell and the heresy of universal salvation, the most common heresy in the West and a serious problem in at least two seminaries in the States.

We were looking at the Scriptures relating to Judas, and the statements said by Christ, that he was the "son of perdition"-John 17:12, and that The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him. But woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born--Matthew 26:24.

In fact, modern Protestant Biblical Criticism does not interpret that passage as referring to Judas at all. One of the young men said we could not judge. My response is that we were looking at the passages and trying to understand what Christ meant. I said that the possibility of Judas been in hell can be discussed.

If one has cogent or necessary criticisms, the problem is worse, as one cannot even appeal to hierarchies of any kind. This is not merely a street problem but one of academia. Last year, some of my peers were afraid to discuss certain political issues in the coffee room, as others were responding "personally", taking offense at the common parlance of politics.

The third reason is the victim attitude of a many, many people, who perceive themselves and others as victims of circumstances, of financial difficulties, in relationships, etc. Victim attitudes are clear in the way one particular "false religion" relates to the Western governmental philosophies. This playing of the victim card, this blaming others for one's discomfort or perceived lack of freedoms, has been encouraged by the present governments of Britain and America. This problem of groups seeing themselves as victims of Western political ideals, democracy or religion will increase with the growing narcissism of the mind set of the young and old who cannot think objectively, do not have moral or religious frameworks with which to judge correctly, and who are so politically correct that they will lose their own freedoms to the more aggressive groups.

1 comment:

Anita Moore said...

As a public defender, I can attest that the victim attitude is deliberately cultivated in the criminal justice system by means of "victims' rights" legislation. This has spawned a whole victim industry: victim-witness coordinators, counselors, pet therapy (so help me, even in the courtroom), training courses for victims, etc., etc., etc. Prosecutors cede their discretion to victims and often fear to extend a plea offer that victims don't like, even though it would be a just resolution of the case. And, of course, victims have to have a chance to address the court. It has led to the Oprahfication of the criminal justice system, to the detriment of true justice.

I need hardly add that the "victim" mentality in many defendants leads, among other things, to their treating their court-appointed counsel like something the cat dragged in.