I agree with your sentiment that topics of morality, such as “just wars”, are relative. Concepts like “justice” and “fairness” are colored with shades of grey, but I understand why people cling to these long-held labels of virtue. Human nature urges people to justify their point of view by deeming themselves the occupants of the moral high-ground. However, depending on your country or religion, what exactly is considered moral is also open for interpretation. Is it moral to fill a ditch with the bodies of those that think the wrong thoughts? My western state of mind tells me no – it isn’t moral at all. However, Uncle Joe Stalin saw the killing of bad thinkers as completely morally justifiable in the Soviet Union.
Some may take that example and exclaim, “But Joseph Stalin was evil!” Evil to whom? Evil to an American who loves Capitalism and Jesus Christ? To someone like that, Joseph Stalin may as well have been the Devil come to Earth. But, as it turns out, Joseph Stalin wasn’t an American who loved Capitalism and Jesus Christ. He was a Soviet Georgian and an atheist. Whatever actions he took were completely filtered through those lenses.
Was Joseph Stalin one of the most downright abhorrent human beings to ever walk the Earth? Indeed, he was, but it wasn’t because he was evil. It was because he was a power-hungry devotee of a failed economic pseudo-religion. Labeling Stalin as evil would also insinuate that everything he did was just for evil’s sake. Stalin was many things, but he certainly wasn’t an agent of chaos. In some warped way, Stalin thought he was doing the right thing, and he wasn’t the only one. Was every citizen of the Soviet Union evil, or were they just on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain?
What we are talking about – the relativity of morality – is a secular idea. Near the end of your previous comments, you relegated “the absolutists to their hopeful pleasures and their imaginative persuasions.” I assume – which may come back to bite me – that you’re referring to the religious population. I see religion as the source of the absolutism in public opinion and, often, even in public policy. I simply state this as how I see it, not as a condemnation.
I’ve heard various godly intellectuals, such as Dennis Prager, make the case for universal morality. Usually, the basis for their arguments are the teachings of the Judeo-Christian faith. However, I’m sure that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Hellenics all have their own versions of universal morality as well. But since we’ve already established here that morality is relative to one’s own environment, the question becomes: should morality influenced by a certain religion be forced upon those who do not follow that religion?