There are many writers, poets and philosophers who bemoan the alienation of man in modern society – our becoming Zombies to Global Market Communism. Some proffer further progressive social and political action; some proffer exerting one’s freedom to express oneself; some sheer rebellion against the world.
But in everyday life what do we do? If we do not have any objective higher good to aim for: no flag-waving; no institutional markers; no cultural, religious or ethnic authorities to guide us, we assuage our passions. We get a job for fulfilment and above all money to stay alive; we find pleasure where and whenever we can find it: sex, music, friends, projects, drinking and drugs. And fill our lives with distractions – and this technologically-driven world of ours can supply an almost infinite variety of distractions. All is changeable, and solipsistic.
Now distractions are healthy if there is some objective truth, beauty, and goodness in them: that these past-times make the world a better place; but the modern world offers us no ideal, no end, nothing in its distractions to ennoble us, to uplift us – we instead become immersed in the void. Cultural Nihilism prevails.
We find some kind of stability in pairing-up, marriage if you will, and possibly, children and a family, which in itself creates a kind of higher good. The question then becomes: Does this state of being create a moral obligation above the demands of ever-changing passion? If so, then one has accepted the Old Order! If not, then the kind of love which had drawn us into a relationship is nothing but the temporary curse of passion. Or if the situation is never resolved – neither of us are really put to the test of the moral demands of the higher good – to sacrifice all of one’s self, total commitment to the pairing. We circle round the issue and avoid situations which put our commitment to the test. In many cases there is this underlying unease, a sense of basic insecurity that it may all explode.
The Old Order treated the pairing of man and woman as higher than each individual. The two form a social bond with rights above the demands of each one; and subsequent duties to the higher good. Unbreakable, socially stable and the origin of all other private goods. Marriage was sacred. Individual passions must be subordinated to the good of the whole. And all of society then supported the bond.
The trouble with us ordinary people is that almost every kind of information, data, we receive – all the cultural, social, political, media data – is opposed to the very idea of stability, of accepting higher goods above the needs of the individual.
There are many crocodile tears shed for marriage and family breakdown but no real solution is proposed because any real solution would imply that the whole Liberal, Socialist, Capitalist agenda is a mirage!
At bottom is the great unease of an unexamined life. To dwell deeper into ourselves calls forth our demons. That is why silence is forbidden: we surround ourselves with noise and constant prattle, hubbub. And if we confront our demons, we fall: into drink, drugs, sex, anger, violence …
Pascal said: “Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be completely at rest, without passions, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness. There will immediately arise from the depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation, despair.”
One may, indeed, retort that this state of affairs is the same for all of us.
Yes indeed, but some of us know that we are living East of Eden, in this Vale of tears, which the Fall of Mankind has brought about.
Yes, the basis of lives is insecure, we were born to be uneasy.
Yes, we live distracted lives.
Yes, the demons are still there forming a gate around our hearts.
Yes, it is extremely difficult to control our passions.
Yes, to live a good life is a continual struggle.
But, some of us live in Christian Faith and Hope. We know that right under all – to the very depths of our hearts Goodness, Beauty, Love and Wholeness resides and loves us no matter what. Even though the demons try to keep the Gate of our Hearts closed, He gives us peace and the strength to overcome our passions with a Love greater than all possible loves. There is a greater Good above all the other higher goods that this world offers. We can only gain that highest Good by total sacrifice of ourselves in carrying whatever crosses may come in the hope which He brings.
Relationships may break down; our children may rebel; lawless violence at home and in the streets may increase and overcome our lives; but that Love takes up residence in our hearts forever if we will. Death itself has been conquered.
Each minute of our lives is then given ultimate meaning: to work in love towards the Good, the True, the Beautiful. Life then is the ground to seek and to grow in love of the highest good. Distractions become a challenge for us to divert the diversions to goodness.
Silence becomes a challenge to face up to the demons and dispel them with love of the Cross, embracing the demons themselves for they do not know what they do!
All then is for Love and to keep returning to the source of that Love. Love, with a capital letter “L” is love of the highest good, Good, God, much higher than sentimental love, which is a frail imitation of the real thing.
The End. Ecstatic union with Incarnate Love Himself. This then is the Peace that the world cannot give.