I am fed up with the “We live in a conservative eastern society” card people raise whenever they stumble upon something that defies their own moral code. This red card is not just raised in small towns in the Jordan Valley for instance, but it is also used in major cities like Amman and the whole middle east regardless of the diversity of sub cultures and societies that have emerged in the past few years.
Do we really live in a conservative society?
What kind of measurements do we have? Is it just a notion that he has risen to believe in, or is it something we relate to according to the set of mainstream social values we have inherited? What about the relativity of conservatism and the spectrum of its nature where extremists at both ends are not tolerated with the same degree?
Ya sidi, let’s assume that our society conservatism is at large in line with the person’s moral who is raising this card. Don’t we, as a liberal minority, have the right to speak up our minds and work on gaining ground in the place we have always lived in and loved? It does bring up the same question of national identity I introduced in a pervious post and how legitimate is it for a state citizen to work against the basic structure of the state. Here, it goes like, how legitimate it is for a group of people to work against the core moral of the society they live in?
The dilemma between societies and individual needs comes up. For ages, it has been society’s best interests more sacred than individuals’ best interests, and thus minorities have been out casted, individuals have been sacrificed, and women have been dominated. It was not until the mid of last century where individualism started to arise, and the value of every single human being gained ground.
Unfortunately the rise of individualism conflicted with the societies best interests. For instance, if anyone is entitled to do what ever he believes is right, and knowing that people don’t usually agree on that, then who would govern the relationships between individuals living in the same society when there is a conflict of interests? One would kill another under the name of extreme individualism the same way he would do it under the name of extreme socialism.
It is worth adding that Arabic societies still tally in terms of individualism. It is picking up due to the nature of globalization and the communication revolution, but resistance against it is very huge.
The world is different today. Modern societies hardly reached a middle ground between individual rights and social rights. Countries are governing the interaction of its citizens based on laws derived from different sources. Usually it is still the majority that rules, but universal human rights law has come to exist in order to protect the rights of the under dog. Human rights organizations are working heavily to ensure the safety of the sacrificed individuals all over the world.
Humans most prominent instinct is the desire to survive and thus the right of living in safety emerged to be the most sacred human right. Speech has been one of the major excuses that been used to violate this right, and thus the freedom of expression emerged to be a very important right that is called upon all over the world.
At the level of myself as an individual, living in a so called conservative society, and a so called liberal sub society where my family and friends and acquaintances don’t adhere to the mainstream claimed moral codes, at the same time living in a modern country that have global agreement and are to hold responsibilities towards the global society. I find myself having every right to speak out myself and work towards what I see better for the people I live between and cherish and love.
So next time anyone raises the conservative card society in my face, I would just raise my middle finger to answer him.