A Foreign Student’s Take on Relativism in American Society

War-Blog

By Unini Odaibo

As an international student coming into the United States from Nigeria, I expected some level of culture shock, especially after watching a number of YouTube videos. Upon getting here and interacting with people, I realized what the videos hadn’t prepared me for: “intellectual and moral” shock.

I had a hard time, and I still do, comprehending the logic behind the excessive use of the phrases “That’s your opinion, not mine,” “What’s right for you might not be right for me,” “That is your own truth, not mine,” and my favorite, “Don’t judge!” Am I the only one that thinks people who say this have already judged themselves?

I believe American society is getting it all mixed up. “Openness,” as I know it, in the words of Allan Bloom, is “the virtue that permits us to seek the good by using reason. It now means accepting everything and denying reason’s power.” As a country that is founded on the principle of freedom, I would expect America to maximize the freedom to learn, to grow and to get better. Imagine my surprise seeing how uninspired and unchallenged the minds of the American youths are to seek truth, question thoughts, build constructive arguments, and appreciate judgments, thanks to the dictatorship of relativism. I fear for the quality of political, civic, and business leaders my generation is en route to producing.

The relativism I have seen here makes talk of “strengthening American society” rather ironic. The habits and values of the citizens significantly determine the strength of a society. Somehow, the question “how can I be better?” has been replaced with the question “Why are you judging me?” What happened to the standards and moral principles that inspired the hope of a better state or place? I remember thinking to myself that if this is what it means to be “for freedom,” then my country is better off the way it is.

I guess this explains why African parents in the U.S send their kids back home, in their teenage years, to get some moral principles ingrained in the fabric of their lives, or as we call it- “home training.”


Unini Odaibo is graduate student of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. She currently interns with the Center for Higher education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and holds a B.sc in Economics from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

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