Change is continual and ranges from minor to major to overwhelming. What apparently is now occurring in North America will soon, probably, be overwhelming.
I have seen first hand the adoption of changed definitions of Right and Wrong. USA cultural understanding of right and wrong used to be commonly understood as specific and accepted definitions rooted in historical understandings. Most civil law used these definitions in law and interpersonal relationships. These were able to be applied in legal, personal, and civic situations. Personal understandings were rejected unless they agreed, or at least accepted, those definitions. True that in some cultures there are a few different specific definitions, but the vast bulk are similar.
This morning in elementary school I witnessed three remarkable and unexpected actions from students. In every situation, their behaviors completely surprised me.
The first child, a kindergartener, was throwing a physical fit in the hallway. That was not that unusual. The principal was carefully restraining her as needed to avoid injury to himself and her, and then two teachers joined in. Soon they all disappeared out of my sight.
The second child was walking down the hallway with an administrator. She turned off the hallway lights. Teacher turns them on. Child turned them immediately off again. Sequence repeated three or four times. Teacher manages to coax child into the next section of the hallway, and closes the doors to that section. Child ponders this, then notices another light switch and turns it off. Several more repetitions before I was called away.
The third student was refusing to obey instructions of the test giver, over and over, then began to run away from the teacher. I happened to block the isle and moved us forward toward the student’s assigned seat. He suddenly bolted under the connected desks students were using for their computer tests, and doubled back behind me. He finally was escorted to the office.
The current rules governing our USA school systems regarding discipline of students have been transformed. Today, positive discipline is all the rage. Negative words or actions are forbidden except for self-protection. Teacher options for dealing with student disobedience are now very mild.
One of the reasons for this is the change of the definition of Right/Wrong.
Rather than an objective unchanging definition, the rule for determining Right/Wrong now depends on the individual feeling of what is allowed or not allowed. Emotional feelings and decisions are now the standard for determining such values. Recently, there is significant onus put on those who are unwilling to join with these shifting value judgements. Bigotry, prejudice, and other disparaging states are placed on those who disagree with our new cultural norms.
Thus, for example, the freedom of deciding which rest room anyone can enter now is the individual’s choice, regardless of sex. This is taken as solely the individual’s decision. To disagree is, at the least, insensitive and narrow, small minded prejudice.
Just some thoughts on current state of affairs here in Michigan and the USA.
Bruce Kirkpatrick, aka Fr. Orthohippo