People are more than ever creating their own realitiesby Declan Ganley / November 29, 2016 / Leave a comment
The foundational document of the United States, in declaring that country’s independence, claims for every man the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These fundamental rights, asserted in the face of oppression and paid for in blood, have been the cornerstone not only of American democracy but of western civilisation for the duration of our lives. The idea that government derives its power from the consent of the people, and that politicians of a different party are “my opponent, not my enemy,” as Bob Dole said in his concession speech in 1996, have been the source of the west’s moral and economic strength since the end of the second world war.
Today, these values and principles are under threat. In an age where people have been given unprecedented power to create their own realities, the political opposition is the enemy to many US citizens. When major party candidates for the most powerful job on earth are calling for each other to be imprisoned, declaring the election rigged, or denouncing each other’s supporters as “deplorable,” it is unsurprising when the losing candidate’s supporters react to defeat by rioting and protesting in the streets.
We live in an age where universal values are maligned. During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of a “dictatorship of relativism” and “an attack on truth” that defined the modern era. This is on display when a candidate with close financial ties to despotic middle eastern regimes can be the flag bearer of liberal feminists, while cultural and religious conservatives line up behind a candidate who brags about dodging sexually transmitted diseases being “his personal Vietnam” and who was recorded boasting about committing sexual assault.
It is now possible to choose media sources so as to never read or watch a news story that challenges one’s point of view. This is a problem that affects both sides of the political divide. Its consequence is first and foremost a devastating loss of empathy in our society—an increased intolerance for dissenting views and voices that is seen in the comments sections of conservative websites and the safe spaces on our college campuses. Fewer and fewer values are viewed as common, shared or…