Friday, January 31, 2014

[global morality gap]

A global morality gap.

I'd never heard of the term until I read a recent article in the Spectator. It suggests that there is a significant gap in morality between two parts of our world, and that this distinction may be as or more important than other distinctions (such as First World / Third World, developed / developing, etc.) that are more commonly talked about.

This gap is between the part of the world that has been enlightened, that believes in human rights and all that we can be, and the part that maintains strict moral codes, where men are not equal to men and women are definitely less, where might is right and non-heterosexual is wrong. The part of the world where police are not your friends, where citizens are ten to one hundred times more likely to be murdered than citizens of Europe, and other nightmares are commonplace.

The author suggests that the gap is only going to get wider. Whether that is true, I don't know. On one hand, many countries in Africa are currently enacting extreme laws especially in regard to gay people. On the other hand, Nigerian author Binyavanga Wainaina, who came out recently, is hopeful that though there will be a difficult time ahead, lgbt rights "have traction". And while the western world is very keen on human rights, there are extreme elements within it which would be happy to see many of those rights removed and a more fundamentalist control re-established.

Read the whole article and give it some thought.

Update: In late January 2014, thousands of French citizens marched in the streets of Paris yelling, "Jews get out of France" while giving Nazi salutes. (source). Around the same time, there were also extensive anti-gay protests related to the government legalizing same-sex marriage. Perhaps the gap is not as clear-cut as some think...


  1. I think this is tricky.
    On one side, the western world has a nasty record with imposing their morality/culture on other parts of the world. We feel this fallout with the Residential School situation and post-colonialism. Colonialism saw part of its mission as 'civilizing' the 'savages' of the world.

    On the other side, the world is becoming increasingly smaller and we are starting to realize how interconnected we actually are. We effect each other dramatically. By buying clothes and shoes we might not realize we are supporting sweat shops, etc.

    I think this is a difficult line to walk. When do we know our morality is superior and worth imposing? And what method do we use to do that imposing?

    1. Hey Rev:

      Thanks for your comment and expanding the discussion from the existence (or not) of a global morality gap, to the question of what one does or does not do to address it.

      I certainly can see the reluctance of other parts of the world when it comes to the west imposing morality and values, especially for those whose freedom from colonialism is more recent. Hindsight is 20/20, or at least better than one's vision at the time. I think, for example, of the women who fought for the right to the vote, but who did not see their own racism in excluding women of colour. Who knows which of the things that I now do and think -- and which I think are good and right -- might be judged otherwise in the future?

      India recently rescinded -- and then reinstated -- a law that gave a 10 year prison sentence for being gay. Ironically, this law was originally put in place when India was under British rule, and it has been suggested that anti-gay values are not inherently Indian. So it is really a complex matter, isn't it.