Society Contradicts Itself…

Two realities

Picture this: two lovely houses sitting at the corner of Spadina and Pinehouse Drive.  One is the home of a wealthy doctor and his wife, four kids, a cocker spaniel, and a little plaque hanging on the wall thanking him for the large donation he made towards the much-needed ER downtown.  The other houses a family with a man about the same age as our doctor – except for this guy is still living with his parents, in the basement, spending 16 hours a day immersed in upgrading his troll mage so that he can become the next World of Warcraft immortal.

Many of us see a general distinction between the two lives.  One seems to have done something worthwhile with his, the other, perhaps not so much (as thousands of online gaming enthusiasts angrily exit this page and return to their life-changing virtual exploits).

Now I ask: Why is it that we are able to make such a judgment about people’s lives?  Why is it that we put a high value on someone who has given their life to saving others, and a low value on those who just live for themselves?

You say, “that’s not how most people think, though”.  Perhaps not everyone’s value system works like that.  But I have found society does have ideas that seem to go across the board, for the most part – things that are seen in pretty black and white.

Let me give you a few more examples.  How many people, when it comes down to it, will say “I just live for money”?  Or “spending time with family and taking care of your kids is a waste of energy”?  Find even a Hollywood movie that tries to tell you that.  Almost nobody does.  How many people think suicide is a good thing?  Cheating on your spouse is okay?  Would you have friends after making fun of cancer victims or those who died for your freedom?  That’s unthinkable!


Answer quickly, and remember your answer, because society’s got a counterpunch that could knock your nice little morality into oblivion.

Ever have someone tell you something that they’re doing that sounds completely stupid?  What’s a surefire way to disarm the conversation without things getting too messy?

“Hey, I think I’m going to try out as goalie for the dart-throwing team.”

“Oh…Well hey, whatever works for you.”


That’s not the only time this sort of idea pops up.  We hear this sort of thing in various forms – “Just be yourself, don’t worry about what other people think”, “Hey, you were born that way”, “Follow your dreams”, etc.  If you trace these back to the root idea, you will find a common thread between all these ideas – they all are based on the idea that the right thing is whatever feels right.

Okay, society.  Stop right there.  First you say that sacrifice for others and saving lives is a worthy thing, but then you say “but you know, whatever floats your boat”.  Excuse me?  What if saving lives doesn’t float my boat?  What if I like my pathetic existence hiding from the sun with my trolls and wizards?  Why are you trying to force your idealistic ideas on me?

Come to think of it, why do we have ideals about anything?  People shouldn’t stick their noses into other’s businesses, right?  So what if there are poor people, people without food, water, or decent health care?  Why do we have a government?  People should just do whatever feels good, that’s the best law – forget all this legalism.  You know what, if robbers feel like robbing banks, let them.  Maybe that’s what they’re born to do.  Prostitution, human trafficking – its their bodies, leave them alone.  Stop all this “do good to other people” nonsense and just live for yourself.  Cuz…it’s all about what feels good…right?

What’s underlying all this?  The battle for the existence of truth.  C. S. Lewis once wrote, “When all that says, “it is good” has been debunked, “I want” remains.”  These are the two paths society has been trying unsuccessfully to mesh – good and bad versus whatever you feel like.  Batman versus Sloan.  Absolute truth versus relative truth.

So, which side are you on?   I didn’t actually write this article to persuade you to one or the other.   Surprise!  I really just want us to see the lines that are already drawn.  I’d like us to think about what we’re actually saying when we agree with some of society’s statements.  Whatever it is that we believe, let’s be consistent with it.  We don’t want to be speaking out of two sides of our mouth – we can all agree on that, right?  Because it’s only when we’ve chosen our path can we get a clear picture of its destination.

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