Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dissecting relativism, The Base (II): Second generation post-moderns

A few interesting news items for sharing:

- Pope Benedict is not letting off on relativism: "A 'weak' (ed. relativist, post-modern) vision of the person, which would leave room for every conception, even the most bizarre, only apparently favors peace. In reality, it hinders authentic dialogue and opens the way to authoritarian impositions, ultimately leaving the person defenceless and, as a result, easy prey to oppression and violence." Thanks to John Allen for the daily dose of sanity!

- George Weigel has an uncanny ability to say what I mean: "... no program of state-sponsored assistance or massive philanthropic endeavour can ever replace individual acts of compassion". It is a thought too subtle for a Batavian to get his brain around, I fear.
Unrelated, but it reminded me of the criticism of being "unprofessional" that Mother Theresa once received from a heavily state-sponsored well-do-society - those that are the first to leave when the going gets rough ...! The media then report that "NGO so and so has left the country as it is no longer possible to do their work properly". The paradoxes of our time: armies and relief workers that quit because "it is too dangerous". It's like cooks that no longer want to work in the kitchen, as it tends to get too hot in there!

- Chairman of the European Council of Bishops Conferences (COMECE), Rotterdam bishop Adriaan van Luyn, on Monday issued a statement to the effect that citizens should get more involved in the project of "European unity". Hear, hear!

- Back to the Middle East where it is becoming apparent that the Sunni Arab countries are getting more nervous by the day of the Iranian sable rattling. This article in The Daily Star mentions in passing that apart from - encouraging Saudi youngsters to go fight in Iraq - anti-royal Shiite Ahmadinejad is "demolishing all the efforts that (former Iranian President) Khatami made to allay the Arab's fears ...". The article mentions as well - and the Americans are advised to take note - that "cries of treason are elicited from the Arab world when Americans change track and invite Iran into Iraq to pacify it". Frankly, I am at a total loss to understand how an apparent set of intelligent, elderly statesmen like the members of the Iraq Study Group, can come up with such a shocking idea (for want of a more diplomatic word). It's stunning! I hope George Bush is his normal self and puts it where it belongs.

Now back to our series, dissecting relativism:
Dissecting relativism, The base (II), continued
The subconscious moral Christian remnants are already much less in evidence in these children: okay, killing and stealing isn't done, but the odd white lie shouldn't be a problem, especially if it is in a good cause, like not hurting some body's feelings or getting away with a minor transgression, and such. They also choose other causes to support, not the Red Cross but Green Peace, not Churches for African Mission but Amnesty International or Doctors Without Borders. They feel that homelessness is more often a life-style than anything else, and some people shouldn't wallow so much in self pity.

By the time this generation is in turn ready to start a family, which is late in the day, they probably won't marry at all but co-habit, girls will have had a reasonable education and have jobs, their affluence has risen exponentially, while moral has become a rarely used dirty word and a spiritual life is on the back-burner. The general attitude towards society is one of "anything goes, as long as nobody gets (physically) hurt" and the principle of non-interference is expected to be reciprocated (trespassers, and that includes the whole of society, from relatives to politicians and other public figures who dare question their specific life-style of choice, are asked who the @&# they think they are).

Their children won't have any roots left at all in the old, Christian ethics and values that once ruled the life of their forebears. Morality is undefined and a hotchpotch of vague notions, picked up here and there from foreign faiths and persuasions, which we are told, are all equally valid. Their personal ethic code is shelved in something, resembling a conscience, which tells them they shouldn't be doing one thing or another, but do it all the same because it is easier. At best there is the liberal yardstick, of the garden reaching to where the neighbour's begins. But most people do not even go as far as that. Society's moral guidelines are almost entirely made up of what the law of the realm stipulates, which is a danger in itself. Forgiveness and reconciling is no longer an obvious solution for resolving conflicts; a total break is found easier, while vengeance is no problem. Self obsessed behavior and egocentricity have replaced the foremost Christian principle "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Sexuality and related areas I am leaving here out of the equation altogether: even I do not have that much time. But I understand from a new report that with the addition of the Internet into the sexual playground, humanity has reached new depths in the separation of Eros and Agapi (in the sense of new demotic Greek, not the Pope's terminology).

The reader is advised to make a mental mark (!) at this point, as we shall come back here often in these pages. This is the point were society - bumped and bruised, not knowing anymore where they are after the umpteenth social experiment of jilting old values for new ones - truly flies unawares off the rails! For easy identification I call it crisis point.
It is also the point where liberals start hitting the tiles and get red in the face when confronted with their lack of moral backbone. They assure us they have one and the Bible-based mustn't think they are the only ones with a moral code, just because they have a book ... which is usually left at that.
To be continued.

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