This post is one that's been slow cooking in my mind since the beginning of August. In fact, the topic of this post is part of the reason I have been drawn back to contemplating items of controversy on Tossing It Out. I probably should have started writing this post when the passion for the topic was burning inside me, but instead I decided to wait until the last minute after I had presented the foundation posts that will act as guides for the discussion posts yet to come. And in a sense, this current post, though possibly a matter of controversy to some, is further groundwork that will underlie the posts still to come.
Here is my conjecture based on my observations and interpretations of some of the social and political issues of recent times:
When it comes to making decisions about governance and legislation, there is a growing inclination in the modern world to reject logic, reason, or rational thinking in favor of allowing emotions and feelings to establish what is acceptable to society as a whole and what is to be considered the standard of normalcy.
Let me explain using a general example rather than pointing to anything specific. Think of any issue that has been in the spotlight of national debate which has been carried into the halls of justice and legislation. This can be a cause that you believe strongly in or something that you feel has been wrongly passed as law or that appears as though may become law in the future. Now consider whether there is an objectively practical reason for any particular law or commonly accepted attitude to exist other than to make us feel better or absolve us from any personal responsibility for our own actions.
To put this in pop terms, our world has been tainted by the "Me Generation" philosophy of living and has further passed into an age of "Hyper Ego" where self and community identity is the most important thing and anyone who cannot integrate into this system is ostracized, condemned, boycotted, and in some cases even killed.
As I was mulling over this topic of the feelings-based society, an amazing thing happened that really expanded my view. There was the incident of the violent actions of radical Muslim mobs who supposedly were incensed about the now infamous anti-Islam film that had appeared on YouTube a few months ago. The film was used as a diversionary tactic to excuse the rioting, property destruction, protests, and murder. Several statements were made pardoning these actions as the result of "having hurt the religious feelings" of certain groups. The hurt "religious feelings" of a group of people justified evil acts? Where is the logic in that statement or in those actions?
We have been seeing related type thinking on an ongoing basis for several decades now. Laws have been passed in consideration of the feelings of certain people. Language is reconstructed so that we don't make certain groups feel bad. Morality is abandoned because it rejects some folks and they feel badly about being apart from society.
Maybe this deference to feelings has been the pervasive force for longer than I realize, but it seems to have become stronger in the last forty years. I don't want to see anyone downtrodden, shunned, or punished for their beliefs, but I'm not sure to what extent it is practical to think we can include all opinions, belief systems, and desires into a workable society. Someone always has to bend, but are we caving in the wrong direction much of the time?
I'm certainly not alone in these observations. Do a web search of "feelings" or "emotion" versus "logic" or "reason" and you'll find pages of various topics that culminate in similar conclusions. And again I encourage you to do your own litmus test. Pick a cause you believe in and list some reasons why you believe in that cause. Are those reasons more related to personal feelings or is your defense based empirical data that amounts essentially to an objectivity that would be difficult for someone else to dispute?
My apologies if this post seems incoherent or incomplete, but for the sake of keeping the post short I'm providing my overview to present a general idea. In future posts I may refer to this post or expound on the topic presented here. There will be more examples presented to illustrate my point and some that may amount to absurdity. I'm going to play around with the topic, hoping at all times to keep things thoughtful and as entertaining as something like this can be. For now I'll be avoiding the more touchy topics and only enter into the more volatile realms of controversy if I feel like there are those who want to discuss them here.
My intent is not to incite incendiary comments or alienate any readers from this blog. I've been getting the sense from some comments in my most recent posts that some of you are thinking I'm trying to enter into provocative religious or political discussions. I assure you, not yet if ever. I'll emphasize what I've been alluding to in my previous posts: I merely want us to think about the roots of controversies and why people make the decisions they do. We can discuss specifics, but hopefully not fight about them.
Do you typically make decisions based more on reasoning or emotions? Would you agree that many political and social agendas tend to appeal more to feelings than practicality? Is society becoming more based on self love and gratification?