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May 6, 2017 / Congau

Keeping up with the Times

The times are changing and demand our attention. We also have to change if we are to keep up with the world for who wants to fall behind?

Some of the requirements are quite harmless. We can adjust to new technologies and put up with new routines in our environment. That is just about how we practically do things and it changes little in our fundamental thinking.

The fashions are also constantly fluctuating of course and we may be excused to think that that is also something external and only touches us on the surface. After all, what does it matter what we wear and one style is as good as any other. But we may not be quite that indifferent. As style and vogue are altered, we actually modify our own personal taste. We seem to think that the latest mode is a real improvement and we are sometimes both amused and sorry when reflecting on our own lack of taste just a few years back. Our perception of beauty and ugliness is actually subject to change and thereby somewhat deeper traits of our personality are touched.

Our esthetic judgments are not at all as steady as we might like to think, but if that is a discouraging observation, it may be even more disheartening to recognize how our ethical sentiments are stirred by the passing of time. If what was once valuable to us loses its significance, it must cause serious doubts about the strength of our beliefs.

We should want our convictions to be based on a solid fundament, being a firm part of our personal character and not something that the winds of time can blow away. Yet we notice how even serious moralists may relax their attitude as the social norms are loosened.

There is something sad about such a development. Even if I personally thought that the moralist in question had been wrong in the beginning, I would regret to see that his change of heart was caused by something as irrelevant as time. Even if the majority of people moved from one persuasion to another and social customs and habits changed, that should have no bearing on your convictions. If something is wrong, it is always wrong (or if right always right). Only rational consideration should be relevant for the choice of values. Of course we know that everybody is not all that rational, but that is different from actually encouraging people always to keep up with the times.

The times may be wrong. In that case, don’t keep up with them.

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