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Old 03-18-2008, 07:24 PM   #61
Ellis Amdur
 
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Culture

Marc writes:
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That is OUR view point that represents OUR culture. Their are NO moral absolutes in how cultures assign worth to people, regardless of age or gender.
Moral relativism. Such a "correct" shibboleth that it shuts the conversation down. One must not dare go against such a powerful weapon.
There has been a radical shift in a large segment of Islamic culture, where suicide once forbidden, is now given sanction, if one is killing one's enemies, defined only by ethnic or religious grounds, and this is given religious approval by some of the top religious leaders in various countries. But there's no moral absolute. Shred bodies as you will - that's the new cultural rule, so there's nothing to condemn.
Interestingly, the Dyak of Borneo used to headhunt. Originally, it was a war trophy, but it got so a young man couldn't marry without presenting his inamorata with a head. So they would sneak into the next valley and slaughter the nearest unaware old person, woman or child. It became a pernicious addiction, that compulsively continued, generation after generation. The English, when they colonized Bornea stopped it, on pain of death. A very famous Dyak chief expressed gratitude saying that they were sick with blood and could not stop by themselves. (Those awful English absolutists).
There is a long-standing group of cultures in New Guinea that believe that males grow strong through the ingestion of sperm. So the young boys are taken from their mother's into the long-houses and used every day for oral sex until they grow up and do it, in turn to young boys themselves. The young boys are taught to believe the value and brag about how much they are "given." They grow up and marry. This is a profoundly violent society, particularly in regards to women with women, using them to procreate more boys for more . . . But how dare we condemn it! It's their culture.
Perhaps another book is in order - the marvelous SICK SOCIETIES by Robert Edgerton, which looks at various cultures as being damaging or healthy to their members.
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I shall first define it as the failure of a population or its culture to survive because of the inadequacy or harmfulness of one or more of its beliefs or institutions. Second, maladaption will be said to exist when enough members of a population are sufficiently dissatisfied with one or more of their social institutions or cultural beliefs that the viability of their society is threatened. Finally, it will be considered to be maladaptive when a population maintains beliefs or practices that so seriously impair the physical or mental health of its members that they cannot adequately meet their own needs or maintain their social and cultural system.
So cultural rules can actually damage people severely, and if you look around the world, women are the first, foremost and almost always victims.
So let us bring up ancient Rome, one of the most genocidal cultures ever to exist on the face of the earth, where Hitler and Goering would have been unremarkable, typical Roman generals, and Stalin a marvelous Emperor. Young girls were married off young, with no say in the matter. Fathers also had the right to kill their sons at any time or age, for any reason they chose. There was no concept of "majority" - you were your father's boy until he died. Perhaps not the best example to validate age of consent.
In many "primitive" cultures, the life expectancy is 30 years old. Not surprisingly, one marries when fertile. You will likely be dead around the time your child is ready to reproduce. Biology will out.
Are we, today, simply biological beings? No, in addition to genes, we have "memes," cultural rules and values passed on from generation to generation. And one of them is age appropriateness. A 13 year old girl or boy is terribly ill suited to the role of reproduction in the complexities of modern life, AND, terribly ill-suited to the experiences that he or she will have in a sexual relationship with an adult. Thus, going back to Edgerton, we see that an adult initiating a relationship with a child - which is surely to satisfy his or her own needs and not taking the child's needs into account - or taking into account the potential, very likely damage - is profoundly selfish.
There are evil people, because every act they do is calculated to do harm, willfully so. And there are many many ordinary people who do evil things. So returning to William Hazen's brave note. I wouldn't call his teacher evil. But what she did - meeting her own needs at a child's expense - is an evil thing to do. That she also helped a young boy who so terribly needed help means that there was more to her than what she was doing to him. But that help that she offered could have been given without the sex.
How dare I be so harsh and judgmental? Should I be more supportive to help people's self esteem? Calling an act evil might make them feel bad?
In my world, I simply do not trust people who are not willing to make moral choices - and not merely about their own child, as in, "Look, there are many cultures and many rules and many perspectives. If it was my own daughter, of course . . ." Why not someone else's daughter or son?
Why is this so difficult?

What is good? An act that is concerned with more than oneself. One does something not out of selfishness, to meet one's own needs - lust for example, or a need for power. One considers the implications of one's acts as they affect others. (Oh, perhaps that is part of Ueshiba's aikido - it's contributing to something larger than just one's own selfish needs? No, let us not go there, because we'd be shunning the selfish and they need our love . Let us make aikido "unconditional positive regard." ).
What is evil? That which only is considered with satisfying one's own needs without concern or care for another, or the damage you cause. Or further, the deliberate considered, cultivated, planned, choice to commit such an act, damn what consequences to the other person.
Yes, there are different cultures. Am I a racist or ethnocentric individual - America uber all? One culture that manifests profound sickness (per Edgerton) is our own. Read Boys Adrift by Sax - one of the most important books of the 21st century about the profound damage to a generation of males in Western society, and how it endangers everything in our culture, now and in the future. But if we can look at our own and see profoundly flawed values that damage people in our own, then we can do the same regarding other cultures. Or the short version, just because some cultures say it is fine and dandy for the adult males to take young girls and f*** them because it feels good and they want to, no matter what psychological - or physical damage it causes - doesn't make it right.
Best

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 03-18-2008 at 07:30 PM.

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