Moral relativism is the act of not taking a stand, or in other instances, pushing others to accept that there’s not a correct way to do things. Sometimes things are relative, but there are limits to this and it’s trendy to ignore that reality. Consequently moral relativism becomes bias when it ignores the impact of not taking a stand. Relativism can be paralyzing, not due to fear or ignorance, but due to confusion. Relativism becomes a tactic to negotiate for one’s real point of view, lack of interest, or not knowing how to act. For example, for a teacher to say “Can’t we all just get along” when a kid is being bullied, fails to hold the classroom bully accountable. Later, the kid who was bullied brings a gun to school since respect, love, and even life have all become relative.
Another aspect of relativism is it’s negative impact on diversity. To say there is no such thing as race denigrates the struggle of others, to say all religions preach the same thing diminishes each one, to say all cultures are the same denies the value of difference.
Relativism attacks anything that dares to say “No”. Are Americans spoiled? Why are we so desperate to push limits? Is this the by-product of a century of dominance and wealth? Morality deemed wrong even if it benefits society.
Relativism has its limits as I said, but it has been a way to challenge some archaic ideas. “Do no harm” is a mantra used to limit the extremes of relativism and dictatorship. Religion provides some good examples of “Do no harm” considerations. Circumcision is a useful test case for archaic rituals. This is not an assault on the portion of Jews who circumcise males or the few Muslims who circumcise women, but is it our place to cut off a piece of a child? If the foreskin is removed with a Rabbi’s teeth, I would think so. If the surgery is botched and the child dies, definitely. But something so literally core to their religion must have some compromise, such as requiring a trained physician to perform it. Then again, if you could have aborted the boy 8 days before when they were in the womb, is it our place to say? (relativism) Now it’s different with women. To circumcise women does great harm, and not just during the act. It causes pain during sex and additional pain during childbirth for a lifetime. And I’ve read the Koran but not seen anything about cutting up a woman nor interpretations that justify it. Male circumcision may be sad but can moral relativists make a strong enough argument if they also support abortion? And why are we so focused on things like this when the sex slave trade is still so prolific? Because moral relativists have carte blanche to do whatever they want, literally. It’s cover for self-interest. Is this the 21st century version of America’s Rugged Individualism?
Relativism has even handcuffed the police. Many don’t enforce unpopular laws from what I have witnessed. Even when I’ve been attacked by a known delinquent, it’s he said she said. They are hesitant to fill out a report, though my understanding is they must if requested. Then again if they don’t enforce some laws, why would they follow this rule? So I’ve gone down and filed reports myself. Should we support pay increases for police if they fail to abandon extreme relativism and at least enforce the laws still in place. You can’t pick and choose which laws to enforce. We saw that in battling Jim Crow in the South and oppression nationwide.
Moral relativism affects all of us. I am not immune. Let’s look inside ourselves to examine our own actions; how have we used relativism to trample on the beliefs of others; as well as our own? Or if we do believe something is relative, why do we think so?