‘Beer is the answer’ and ‘the white man did it’

    There truly is nothing like spring break away from the university to bring back the daunting realization of how different college students are from people in the real world. Many college students dislike folk of the real-world, or at least find their mainstream ideas disdainful because of these differences.

    One of the more poignant reasons college students disagree with people of the real world is that, in their perception, there are too many absolutists who believe only in the black and white and reject valid alternative ideas.

    Conversely, real-world traditionalists and absolutists distrust college students largely because college students are seen to be relativistic, wafting with the breeze and supporting “whatever feels right.” To them, students reject most of the established moral codes and status quo by rallying around slogans such as, “there is no truth,” or “how can you be sure you have the truth?” However, as convincing as this stereotype may seem to the outside world, it is not at all true. Students do not actually subscribe to moral relativism. In fact, it is quite the opposite. As proof of this statement, here is a list of the moral absolutes that nearly all students follow:

    Sexual morals based on convenience: Both the religious absolutists and the traditionalists believe that college students are experimenters of sexuality, bending morals this way and that. This is an absurd falsity. The strict sexual morals of most college students can easily be deciphered by a set code: the code of convenience.

    If, for example, it is convenient to have sex while drunk, due to the enormous amount of excuses available to avoid commitment or blame, then drunken sex it is. If it is convenient to abandon belief in committed relationships because there is someone next to you that you’re dying to sleep with, despite your commitment to another, then a strong belief in open-relationships is in order. Unfortunately, convenience tends to take a turn for the worse and results in other rationales such as the following: “If it is convenient, shamelessly combine the category of real rape with mere remorse for casual sexual activity and punish your partner accordingly.”

    War is wrong all the time: Almost every student likes to chime “war is not the answer.” If there is any risk of war involved, then clearly the situation is wrong and requires protesting. This is blatantly absolutist, in that it ignores possible complexities and alternative opinions. That is, students have to ignore the fact that war has been the answer to several major world problems, such as American slavery or the Holocaust. Only absolutists can simplify with such ease.

    Furthermore, just like most absolutists, students generally hold a bit of hypocrisy and break their own rules, quietly supporting violent revolutionary guerrillas and child suicide bombers while loudly shouting “Give Peace a Chance.”

    Beer is the solution to all of life’s problems: Don’t even ask what the problem was. This is the purest form of an absolutist’s blind faith in a truth.

    We matter: It is a firm belief on all sides of the political and social spectrum that we, undergrads at UCSD, somehow matter in the larger scheme of things. Right or wrong, the belief that every sit-in, table, protest, conference and poster sits at the base of some vast grassroots movement is absolute. This is not a value judgment on the importance of college events, but someone might very well point to the number of useless activities us college students put our hearts into. But in the minds of an absolutist, this is more than just defeatist, it’s wrong.

    The white man did it: Rarely will you see a group of people cling more dearly to a truth than students who believe that almost every problem in the history of the world was committed by people of white skin color. Every issue of the Voz Fronteriza, for example, blames white America for everything from poverty and racism to border deaths and crime rates.

    Anything we disagree with is the worst crime against humanity: Christian fundamentalists are stereotyped as condemning everyone and everything to hell if it doesn’t fit in their dogma. Students absolutely hold this value. During the lead in to the war in Iraq, student protestors shouted constructive criticism such as “Stop Bush’s Genocide.” I must have been truly ignorant not to realize that Bush’s only goal was to wipe out every last non-Kurdish Iraqi. Note also the continual use of comparing Bush to Hitler or comparing Israeli soldiers to the SS. Just like the good absolutists we are, it is clearly the best strategy to use the worst possible injustices as comparable examples to everything we disagree with. Myopic? Yes.

    Relativistic? No.

    Diversity is the holy grail: This is perhaps the most holy of moral commandments. Those who break this commandment will be excommunicated from valid thought and sentenced to a lifetime of wearing a white “R” on their chest, for racism. Diversity is wonderful, truly, but ask anyone involved with the Student Affirmative Action Committee: It is absolute and it is non-negotiable.

    This list is by no means exclusive. College students adhere to many strict absolutist moral standards. If I have forgotten any key moral codes, please e-mail the address below so that they may be properly addressed. In the end, the traditionalists of this world should not fear that their children are learning to deny “truth.” Admittedly, students have invented their own truth, but they stand by that truth as much or more so than other traditionalists. True relativism is a rare belief and generally anyone who is relativistic doesn’t care one way or another for the state of the world, because, who is to judge? And in the end, lest it seem so, this list is not political. I wish I could say that these beliefs were accountable only to difference in political ideology.

    But then, to make such a generalization would be simplifying the problem. And that would be quite absolutist of me.

    And with all this “truth” flying around, I could use some relativism.

    All other perceived student moral codes, both in earnest and in merciless criticism of the author, are gladly accepted at the following Center for Moral Instruction: Chris_in_Cork@ yahoo.com.

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