The word is defined as follows: the acceptance of or belief in absolute principles in political, philosophical, ethical, or theological matters.
It appears to me that we live in an age of absolute beliefs or opinions. The is no room for intelligent discourse, for presenting facts, to argue in a debate and present a counter point. It looks like we are either for or against and with someone or group or against said person or group. People want a solution to any problem which has to be final and absolute, solve this thing once and for all. Problem is we live in an imperfect world but no matter it’s got to be fixed now. How did we ever get to this point? The age of miracles is past, as the song goes, no matter we demand miracles from our elected officials, from anyone in authority. Otherwise we are not happy, it is almost a nihilistic approach to life, a total rejection of Laws and Institutions or beliefs unless they prove they can provide us with the solution to a better world where everyone is treated fairly and without prejudice or preference.
In discussions people are pigeonholed along gender lines, economic or educational lines, religious beliefs though many claim not to have any and political view points. You are with the left or the right, you cannot be with the centre in terms of opinions. Age and generations is also another great divide, one group blaming the other and vice versa, usually the elderly are to blame for all the problems of the world.
If that was not enough, the media is also trying to tell you how to think and what to think under the guise of informing you. On social media you are afraid to leave a comment because the caustic reply you will get is well beyond any intelligent reasoning.
There have been other ages in human history where absolute thinking has prevailed. In Europe with the protestant Reformation an age of extreme intolerance, war and violence, tens of thousand died and this happened in the age of the Renaissance and Baroque period. In the 20th century extreme ideologies surfaced all over Europe and in Asia with the results we know.
Now in the 21th century a new phenomenon, populist ideology and concepts coming mostly from North America. In Canada with the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, Canadians saw a huge change in how they perceive themselves and how they see their country. Enshrine in the Canadian Constitution, the Charter has taken on a life of its own, with unforeseen results. It rectified many wrongs and demolished pre-conceived ideas of how society functions. Many of us profited from the advances brought about by the Charter. Politicians also used it to push the concept of equality amongst all people. By 1995 equality was replaced by equity, not the same thing and not the same meaning either in legal terms, however few paid attention to this change, confusing equality with equity. Equity is a great example of a word that started out with a general sense that developed more specific senses over time. In Canada today it generally means giving all to one group as compensation for centuries of perceived wrong doing by the other privilege group. A general rejection of the past and historical figures, they were wrong and awful people. We judge the dead, in some cases the long dead and accuse them today of crimes, using today’s standards. I wonder what we will be accused of in 60 years.
As the concept of equity took hold of Canadian society, some thought they could export this concept to other continents, in the spirit of look how good I am, I will show you how to correct the mistakes in your society. A rather arrogant idea coming from people who do not think in terms of justice but in terms of social revolution fuelled by self-absorbed thinking.
In the last 3 years in Canada we have seen the rise of a movement which advocates that women who are victims of violence, sexual or domestic must be believed no matter what the evidence of lack thereof may be. The simple fact that an allegation is made is sufficient to have the judicial system kick into gear. This movement with the help of the media has alleged that all police force in Canada is corrupt and or non-responsive, the Judicial system is broken and dominated by white old men with patriarchal tendencies, our politicians are accused of being biased. Now Margaret Atwood, the famous feminist writer and acclaimed author is accused by the very same group of being anti-women because she believes in due process of the Law and said that mere allegations against anyone in the #MeToo movement are dangerous for us all, if no investigation takes place and the allegations are not proven in a Court of Law if they are ever pursued at that level how is society to progress. One activist said to Atwood, maybe you should listen to young vulnerable females who are powerless, Atwood shot back that she had been listening for 63 years. Another activist wrote on Twitter that she was not interested in Justice or due process but in burning down the building of society and starting from scratch, in other word complete revolution, cannot see to many followers of that idea, but the media loves to broadcast the idea. As one editor told me, we are always on the look out for that story that gets public attention.
What is interesting in all this, was the comment made by a feminist writer and jurist who being interviewed explained that Society at large is simply not following the issue of equality or equity and public attitudes are not changing as fast as some would like. So despite the activists, media and some politicians who would like to see a re-ordering of society with new pro-feminist attitudes, few in Society, men and women are actually following or paying attention to any of it. Passing laws, social engineering, imposing quotas in hiring base on gender alone, demanding that private corporations have a balance ration of men and women on boards, or that Courts of Law have an equal balance of men and women sitting on the bench, etc all of it may have a more surface impact than a deeper attitude changing impact on Society at large. I am still appalled by television Sport channels and hockey in Canada to see the same toxic macho attitudes being presented and watch in bar, pubs and at home, no one says a word about this, hey hockey and sports in general are sacred institutions. Change will come eventually but change in peoples attitudes to any social question will come at snail pace. You cannot legislate how people think.
However in this age of absolute beliefs and instant solutions, one has to be very careful to either say nothing on social media or parsing one’s words carefully as to not offend the activists who believe they hold the truth. As a lawyer said to me, this is the result of the electronic age and the internet. That is scary.