I’m one of those pretentious young things whose God is Science, and bible the declaration of human rights. I’m white, middle class, and young. So naturally I think the world should think like I do.
Not when it comes to individual choices. The individual can do what they want (yay for tolerance!) But when it comes to broad level assumptions, on topics like morality or science. Here, I am one of those people who believe everyone should subscribe to liberalism, objective morality, human rights and organic yoghurt.
I’m the people they invented skinny mochas for. People who argue passionately for things they’ve never experienced (Immigration policy, state schools, benefits.) People who buy paisley print harem pants from The Warehouse.
Being in Sri Lanka has made me aware of how irritating people like me are. My Sri Lankan friend pointed out that New Zealanders like me think that everything can have a peaceful conclusion.
She also explained that growing up in a war torn country makes you cynical. You stop believing that it can be talked out over a nice cuppa. Not everyone can be happy all the time. There is no clean solution.
This made me feel like a green little bunny.
Now I’m not saying that she’s right, or I’m right, or that this is something that can be easily solved. But the observation rammed home to me that whilst I think my beliefs are right, they’re entirely based on my experiences in Australia, New Zealand and England.
So how can I expect the world to agree with me, when the world forms their opinions from their experiences? I’m not going to go all first year arts student on you, and tell you everything is subjective. (“All morality it relative…Nothing is fixed…accept your inner albatross …”) But when experiences play such a role in determining your beliefs, I’m naïve if I think everyone’s going to agree with me.
This means that my reputation, for smug, morally superior tolerance, may have become a little less deserved. I hope it means I’m a little more open to other views, a little more understanding of disagreeing parties, a little closer to enlightenment, man.
But I’m not getting hopeful. It’s probably just a summer fling with a more mature world.