Friday, July 3, 2009

Identity, Liberty, and Multiculturalism/Postmodernity

Many in the academic world have made much of the "talk" of postmodernity, or multiculturalism. This view affirms what defines "context", "groups of identity", and the values that these adhere to in behavioral standards. While I agree that all groups have to be defined, and that identification factors are not invalid, is there something that is "more" important and on what basis does one determine what is most important?

Yesterday, I wrote about how I was struck by Jenny Sandford. She had defined herself apart from these group identifiers, at least in her principles. She was able to evaluate a situation that was very personal from an objective viewpoint. She has her boundaries, although she respected others their right and understood that right in giving a "negative response" to the press.

Last night I listened to one of the contributors on a blog site I follow, American Creation. His name is Jonathan Rowe. He is libertarian in political commitment, but the others on this blog site range in their political commitment from fundamentalist evangelical, Mormonism, to agnostic. These political commitment are direct corrolaries to their individual understandings of the Founder's intent in regards to American principles.

Jonathan said that the Establishment Clause has not been definitively defined by the Supreme Court. The Establishment Clause has to do with religious freedom and the State and whether our country is a "Christian nation" or not. The Founders personally had various religious convictions, or commitments. This is why I believe they were libertarian in their understanding of religious traiditions.

While religious freedom defines our founding and protected the individual's conscience within a group identity, I am concerned about these very freedoms being undermined when it comes to certain ideals, as it concerns the Enlightenment. These ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are universal. But, is the universal personal, or is the universal communal?

I believe that the universal is personal within a communal/universal context. Therefore, individual/civil liberties trump communal/religious rights. This view protects or upholds human rights. And I believe that those who value women should adhere to this view. Traditions do not value women, for the most part.

Does the State protect religious conviction when human rights to education, medical care, and dignity are de-meaned, ignored, suppressed or subverted? And yet, where will religious freedom be, if there is not freedom from State intervention? Civil liberties protect both human rights and religious freedom. Freedom of conscience as it regards these issues is the most important value, in my opinion.

So, today's discussion is over the individual/personal, group identification/ multiculturalism, postmodernity/ modernity, dichotomies. Where do you think the lines should be when it comes to religious freedom, individual conscience, multiculturalism, immigration policy, assimilation, etc. All of these issues are at stake in our free society. We must address them to remain free.

No comments: