Updated: Dec 27, 2022
The Ethical Lexicon #5: Cure toxic culture without falling victim to unreasonable expectations
Over the last several years, schools around the country have changed Christmas Vacation to Winter Vacation. As an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, I want to go on the record:
Christmas is not merely a Christian religious festival. It’s also a United States Federal holiday. And well it should be.
The Framers recognized that a functioning society is built on a foundation of immutable universal values that transcend human reason and the popular morality of any given generation.
Ah, what of the so-called wall of separation between church and state? Clearly, they saw no contradiction:
“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the bible.” — George Washington
“For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which, without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.”
— Alexander Hamilton
Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe.
— James Madison
In our generation, the freedom of religious practice has been twisted into freedom from exposure to religious ideas. Ironically, at a time when our society has elevated diversity to the status of a religious value, there seems to be no place for religious values in our society.
Which is bizarre and, to some degree, pathological. What is there to be afraid of? The influence of Christian culture on the formation of the United States is undeniable, and to ignore it is an offense against both history and moral philosophy.
Yes, it can be uncomfortable to accommodate beliefs and ideals different from our own. But that is the only way a pluralistic society can survive, let alone thrive.
To think that vastly different types of people can live together without occasionally bumping into one another is to engage in the kind of irrational utopianism that, with tragic irony, is leading us toward a dystopian future by eroding the bedrock of collective core values.
Let’s not be afraid of differences or tension. Rather, let’s resist becoming so fearful of being offended or giving offense that we purge all meaning and substance from our lives. Let’s learn to balance the greatest possible freedom against the differences that compel us to expand our perspectives and our thinking.
To do so makes for better work, a better life, and a better world. And that's the introduction to my column this week in Fast Company.