When I was a teenager I loved listening to comedians – Steve Martin, “Father Guido Sarducci” from Saturday Night Live fame, and Robin Williams. Whereas today’s comedians cannot say three words without dropping the “f bomb,” these guys were a little more reserved – most of the time. Robin Williams’ first comedy album was called “Reality: What a Concept.” I don’t remember any of the content, but I do remember the title because it was so unusual … and ironic. By definition “reality” cannot be a “concept.” A concept is abstract where as reality is objective … or at least it used to be.
Robin Williams’ statement is in stark contrast to Aristotle’s Law of Identity. (Bet you never thought you’d read about Robin Williams and Aristotle in the same sentence!) The Law of Identity is pretty simple: A is A. This means A cannot be B or C or anything other than A. A bicycle may blue or red, but it cannot be both. Okay, may it can be partly blue and partly red, but the blue part cannot also be red and the red part cannot also be blue. A banana is not a monkey. A shoe is not a foot. A saddle is not a horse. A is A … or at least it used to be.
We live in a culture where reality and concept have been jammed together into a cultural blender creating something mushy. Right and wrong are no longer concrete realities. They are merely subjective concepts that change with the winds. A can be B or C or Z. To demand that A is A would mean that you are insensitive and intolerant. No! Everything must be relative – reality is a concept – one which may vary from person to person and which morphs based on changing circumstances.
This kind of thinking is antithetical to biblical revelation. The Jews held fast to the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” For the Jews A was A. There was no other God but God! Christians declare “Jesus is Lord.” A is A. There is no other Lord but Jesus. Yet in today’s culture you can worship the god of your choice and Jesus can be whomever you’d like him to be. A can be B or 12 or &^*! for that matter.
In a world devoid of absolutes and awash in relativity, it is no wonder that that people live according to whatever standard is convenient at the moment. It is no longer uncommon to hear of pregnant 9 year olds or parents using their young children as prostitutes to get drug money or teens murdering their parents or teachers. Right and wrong have been utterly blurred, and there is little to restrain behavior that was once considered aberrant.
Sad? Yes. Shocking? Not so much. But let us be reminded of a piece of wisdom passed down to us that has survived the centuries: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)