Monday, 15 February 2016

Chronolical/Anachronistic Arrogance

From time to time I come across instances of what I have referred to as Anachronistic, or Chronological Arrogance. What I mean is the tendency of current governments, or courts, or churches,  or even individuals, to feel that somehow we have something right; something all together; that in spite of all thought given to a particular issue in the past, now, suddenly, whatever our thoughts on the matter, they are, after all this time, indisputably the correct ones.  It is the surety that thinking on some particular issue is now finally settled whereas every previous generation has been too blind to see it. This is probably not limited to the current generation. It is probably a natural human tendency, but it seems that every generation, perhaps especially this one, forgets it.

A few examples:
  • Some churches' finding that homosexual sexual activity is not wrong after all; that Scripture and 2000 years of careful Christian thought have all this time been mistaken.
  • people now have the right (and, by corollary, always have had, but unrecognized) to demand a doctor participate in putting them to death.
  • any person who feels they are a person of the opposite sex has a right to use any washroom or change room they like.
  • the right to freedom of conscience or freedom of speech does not override another person's right not to have their feelings hurt.
What brought this subject back to my mind is the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia of the US Supreme Court.  Here are his thoughts, from one of his opinions which sum up what I have tried to express, but expressed much better than I have been able:
From Here...
Much of the Court's opinion is devoted to deprecating the closed-mindedness of our forebears with regard to women's education, and even with regard to the treatment of women in areas that have nothing to do with education. Closed minded they were — as every age is, including our own, with regard to matters it cannot guess, because it simply does not consider them debatable. The virtue of a democratic system with a First Amendment is that it readily enables the people, over time, to be persuaded that what they took for granted is not so, and to change their laws accordingly. That system is destroyed if the smug assurances of each age are removed from the democratic process and written into the Constitution.
So to counterbalance the Court's criticism of our ancestors, let me say a word in their praise: they left us free to change. The same cannot be said of this most illiberal Court, which has embarked on a course of inscribing one after another of the current preferences of the society (and in some cases only the counter-majoritarian preferences of the society's law-trained elite) into our Basic Law.
Take Care

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