The Secret Lives of Diaries

Thunder & Lightning

Posted in Society by secretlives on April 22, 2006


April 21, 2006

In a small strip mall up the block from where I work, a man, with his young son in tow, took a base-ball bat to the head of a cabbie.  There was profuse bleeding, the trauma to the son was great, the RCMP were diligent, and despite the fact that I work with profound trauma in the clients who seek my help, despite my insight into the source of this violence, despite the thousands of stories like this one that have been vented across the space of my groups, despite all of this, I still shake my head and wonder what in the heck this man was doing – not to himself, not to the cabbie, but to his son.

There is an explanation.  But no matter how well the dynamics and the historical triggers for this behaviour can be explained, there is still no excuse for it.  An unhappy childhood is no excuse for poor behaviour.

We have become a society of adult children: no restraint, little sense of what is 'right and wrong' as opposed to what is pragmatic – a culture of highly educated, intelligent barbarians.  The development of character, dignity, integrity, duty, social responsibility, and a moral education have been overshadowed by the tyranny of one opinion being as good as any other.  We are a civilization untied from its moorings, embodying clearly the prophesy W.B. Yates foresaw in his poem The Second Coming. 



4 Responses to 'Thunder & Lightning'

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  1. peg said,

    Giovanni – Alas, you are so right. You know what is sad? I’d wager that dad would answer that he was proving to his son that he (the dad) was a Real Man and showing him how to “deal with” someone who crossed him.

    “the tyranny of one opinion being as good as any other.”

    Very provocative statement. What do you mean by “good” here? Will benefit society if acted upon? Right? Valuable? Is this what you think is at the root of the loss of character etc in our society?

    I’m holding that kiddo “in the light” as we say in Quakerism.

    almost 48

  2. secretlives said,

    The answer to your question is a long one that involves my views on relativism in particular and post-modernism in general. In answering your question in this limited medium I run the risk of being misunderstood; but I’ll try any way.

    In short…there has been a war between world views since the so-called “Enlightenment” (18th century). These views are captured by contending mottos. On one hand Scientific Materialism would have us believe that Man is the measure of all things while those who embrace ‘revealed truth’ (God) would have us believe that God is at the centre ‘He’ is the measure of all things.

    Within the former view, truth is unknowable. One cannot say “I have the truth” one can only say “I have A truth”. The latter view says that God is The Truth and reveals ‘Himself’ over time.

    Again…the former would have us believe that ‘one opinion is as good as any other’ while the latter would say ‘ absolute truth as revealed by God’ is not based on opinion; it is simply TRUE.

    From the former comes relativism and much of the moral chaos introduced by post-modernism. From the latter also comes the chaos of an imperfect understanding of divine truth.

    And where do I stand…I believe in relativism within the context of revealed truth. Therefore, I don’t believe that ‘one opinion is as good as another’. For instance, post-modernism would say that the sexual world view of a pedophile is just one opinion amongst many others. I just don’t see it that way. The standard on which I base my life says that the pedophile is a perversion of a healthy and vibrant sexuality. The pedophile is ‘absolutely’ wrong.

    When I refer to ‘the tyranny of one opinion…’ I am referring to the Fascism of ideas promulgated by the intelligentsia. For them there is nothing abosulte except the fact that there is nothing absolute: truth is unknowable. And if you you are not in submission to their world view then you are unenlightened and to be held in contempt.

    And so, I end here with so much unsaid.


  3. peg said,

    Very interesting. You do a good job of explaining, I think. I started to explain how I basically agree with you, but found myself in a corner. I’ll have to think about it some more.

    Certainly I believe that each person can find their own truth, if by that you mean what is right for them, what values and precepts they want to base their life on, what is important for them. As long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process, their truth can be very different from their neighbor’s.

    Absolute Right and Wrong? Hmmm. I can feel in my gut when I think something is Wrong (pedophilia is a good example). But is the pedophile Bad? Or is he/she a product of a twisted upbringing and/or disordered neurochemistry?


  4. secretlives said,

    So many of us stumble over the proposition that there are absolutes when it comes to morality. We in this 21st century, and former 20th century, are so enamored with the belief that truth is unknowable. I see this supremacy of the individual as an adolescent rebellion in which the rebel insists that there is no absolute truth because if he were to acknowledge it, he would have to place himself in submission to a higher authority than himself. such a belief would ‘cramp his style’ and prevent him from doing whatever he wants. Anyone who proposes absolutes is viewed as biased, bigoted and even tyrannical. In fact, it is the ‘absolute’ belief that there are no ‘absolutes’ and the insistence of this belief – even the imposition of this belief – that is tyrannical, dogmatic and insisted upon with an evangelical zeal that outstrips any of the absolute propositions put forward by spiritual systems like Christianity and Judaism.

    Is the ‘pedophile’ bad? Everyone falls short of perfection; therefore, we are all flawed. Is he a product of his twisted upbringing? A poor childhood is no excuse for poor behaviour; each one of us is accountable for his behaviour, no matter how poor our upbringing. Is the person not responsible because of disorderd neurochemistry? He is responsible to the degree to which he can make choices.

    Let’s eliminate the presence of psychopathy for a moment. Let’s say that the person is not a clinically diagnosed ‘pedophile’ but is instead a 35 year old man who likes to place GHB in the drinks of women he meets at a bar, and who later rapes them while they are incapacitated. Is this not ‘absolutely’ wrong? If it is, then we posit the existence of ‘absolute’ truth.

    Finally, I believe that within the context of ‘absolute’ truth there is room for ‘relative’, personal truth that is directed by conscience. This is called relativity within morality. What my post-modern antagonists declare, ‘absolutely’, is that I cannot say this because truth is unknowable; there is only relative truth. They shake their finger and say that I should declare that I have A truth, not ‘The Truth’.


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