Finding a Path in the Absence of Truth
With billions of people and millions of cultures all simultaneously inhabiting the world today, a universal truth seems entirely impossible. Every culture has had its own collective mass of experiences unique to them, which have shaped the manner in which they view and participate in our shared world. Often times these groups even have truths which conflict with those of other groups, but as we have learned over the past semester those conflicting stories are all true to the people who believe them. We cannot place them in a hierarchy because ultimately they are simply the functional and evolving stories that are the most practical for each group. Yet having accepted that no story is better than another leads the global community no closer to figuring out how to handle these conflicting stories. When peoples’ lives and well-being become threatened by these stories it becomes even more pressing to be able to find a functional and fair manner in which the world can govern itself. In recent years the predominantly African practice of excising the clitoris has become increasingly debated in the global community. This traditional practice has come to be called, amongst human rights activists and then later organizations such as the United Nation and the World health organization, female genital mutilation (FGM). Outside of Africa there is a general feeling of disgust at the practice of FGM, but there has also been the opposing argument that this is simply another case of economically powerful nations imposing their own moral judgments upon a folk lifestyle. Defenders of female genital mutilation, or female genital cutting, range from many of the African women who have undergone the operation to western academics who believe that we cannot fully understand the practice and therefore cannot judge it. While this practice may be an integral part of a complex culture in which women are glad to undergo the pain and trauma, in its current form female genital cutting is life threatening to the women who endure it. It has become critical to find a tiebreaker amongst all the stories. Education and freedom of information are that tiebreaker. The women of Africa should be allowed to decide their own future, but they should be informed enough to do so. Currently, the overwhelming lack of accurate information is contributing to the existence of female genital cutting, and that is where the true problem lies.