Thursday, September 25, 2014

Modesty: An Example of Why Everything Must be in Balance

Dressing modestly is about being respectful, I believe. It's a kind of respect seen too rarely in mainstream popular culture these days. In particular, it's a kind of respect to people committed to the abstinence lifestyle, and to people who are uncomfortable about flaunting their bodies in public.

However, like all good things in the world, it is only one good, not necessarily the highest or the most dominant good. Therefore, it must be considered in conjunction with, rather than over, all other goods.

What if we set strict standards for modesty, and exclude everyone and every cultural phenomenon that does not fit the standard? From what I know, some parents have done this regarding the culture allowed in their homes. Homeschooling parents in particular may find it quite easy to do this. The results? The young adults raised this way often complain that they missed out on years of popular cultural references and feel like an immigrant in their own country, learning a new culture. Obviously this would impact on their socialisation.

I guess we can also take this one step further. When people are not comfortable interacting in the mainstream, they often stick to their own subculture. And subcultures where people 'cannot' leave anyway are vulnerable to being controlled by crazy leaders, I believe. I'm not saying that it will happen - but it may just happen.

Live and dress modestly, and have plenty of modesty in your life, if that's what you believe. I certainly do myself. But going to great lengths to exclude the rest of the world is not worth it, and may even be a dangerous idea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Ex-Conservative Perspective

I was raised in a conservative culture. I was once a conservative. Now I am not, at least politically.

I still have the values of my upbringing. I value family, commitment, freedom from social engineering and the like, as much as when I was younger. I have nothing against the values underpinning 'conservatism' (at least social conservatism). It's the way I was brought up, and it's my values. However, the way political and cultural conservatism is carried out is often counterproductive, and I would like to see more adaptive ways of applying the values.

I would like society to have a conversation about these and many more conservative values and ideals. They are ideas that I have thought about again and again, and I would have a lot to say about them. My positions are based on preserving the spirit of those values but in a way that is adaptive so that it benefits the diverse people and cultures of the modern world, something that conservatism cannot do. As we share the same values, I look forward to talking to conservatives about why I believe in my application of such values rather than the conservative way.

In conclusion, I don't support conservatism as a complete ideology anymore, but I sure still support those values. It's all about applying them in a better way, I guess.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Non-judgmentalism in Balance: Judge Values, Not Actions

My generation in the West is known for being non-judgmental. And I agree it's a good thing. The culture I was brought up in was known for its judgementalness, and freedom and truth get lost in the way. And unlike what some people thought, it wasn't just freedom to live a 'loose lifestyle' that gets lost. It's the freedom required to do the right thing that matters. For example, peer pressure against supporting marriage equality would be too great to overcome for most people in the aforementioned culture.

Non-judgmentalism has been challenged on the grounds that it doesn't make sense, since we judge in one way or another anyway. My generation is especially prone to judge against people who are racist or homophobic, for example. I think the important thing is that we should judge people's values, rather than their individual actions. Non-judgmentalism is respect for people's chosen identity and chosen course of action in life. It is to respect the dignity of others, even when they choose differently than you do. It should be applied to everyone.

However, even in this spirit, there will always be issues where worldviews clash. To avoid this is just escapism. I'd rather we just deal with that openly. In fact, dealing with values people hold and frankly saying that you agree or disagree with them is a very respectful thing, as long as the values in question are clearly actually held by your 'opponent'. This is because dealing with people based on an identity they themselves uphold is the most respectful way of dealing with people in this world. (By extension, we should not judge others' actions to imply that they hold particular values, unless they clearly do so. For example, support for marijuana legalisation may come from those with a positive attitude to recreational drug use, but it may also come from those with a general libertarian attitude. Assuming the wrong values in people is therefore too easy to do, and must be avoided.)

Saying that, for example, unwed mothers are irresponsible people is very judgemental indeed, as you don't know why someone became an unwed mother, either by choice or by circumstance. You don't know their values, you don't know their life. However, standing up for one's values in an argument is another thing altogether. If we do not do this, there will be no values left in this world. I know my own values, and I know that things as diverse as racism, discrimination against single parents, political correctness, homophobia, and 'sex positive radical feminism' will never sit well with such values. Therefore, I am prepared to take up the argument against such values when they are presented. There is no judging particular people's actions in and of themselves in doing this. I may end up criticising particular actions, but it will be because they clearly stem from values I don't agree with, and I am merely using those actions as an example.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Am I A Feminist?

After some of my recent posts, some people have asked me this question: are you a feminist?

I usually don't like labels. However, to answer this question, I think I'll have to use some. You see, there are two main types of feminism: liberal feminism and radical feminism. As with all things liberal vs radical, I support all of liberal feminism but none of radical feminism.

Liberal feminism, as with all things liberal, is about removing inequalities that are clearly identified in the system, for example unequal education opportunities for women or unequal pay for women for the same job. These inequalities are objective, and are clearly unfair. Fortunately, the work of liberal feminism is over in the West, but we always have to keep the cause up for the sake of women living outside the West.

Radical feminism, on the other hand, is all about a perceived structure to society that disfavours women and must be changed, even when there are no clearly identified inequalities. In radical feminism, people and society are analysed by looking at who has more 'privilege'. Trouble is, this is highly subjective. Thus radical feminism is a subjective ideology. I personally have a particular problem with subjective ideologies - that thing called 'conservatism' that I ran away from was just such an ideology. Conservatism is always able to justify itself, even without looking at objective results, which is often the misery of other people. Radical feminism, for me, carries the same worries. Therefore, it is something I just cannot support.

I'm sure radical feminists are well intentioned. But so are conservatives. And it doesn't mean they aren't wrong. Social engineering, especially when working with anything other than objective evidence, is dangerous.