A Call to Sanity
Fatima Staff Report
October 4, 2017
The first half of the 20th Century witnessed several attempts to move the human race toward a perfection then presumed possible. Many “isms” rose and fell, and in both their ascent and demise much suffering was entailed. Various ideologies, from communism to Nazism to fascism to nationalism, have raised their flags and rallied their armies, determined to realize their vision of a better world no matter what the interim cost in blood and misery.
We stand now amid the skeletal remains of decayed utopian schemes, with the specters that haunt the graveyards of history still beckoning and still finding a following. Why? Should we not have realized by now that no mere re-arrangement of economic and government machinery will produce the earthly paradise that such programs promise? That the result is always quite the opposite from what was envisioned?
There is, however, a persistent illusion that gives rise to our ceaseless social engineering. It is rooted in the denial of original sin. There is overwhelming evidence that human beings are the heirs of a primal calamity that induces us to think we can be self-sufficient; that we are, in some sense, self-created and can in consequence shape our world according to our own notions. We still hold to the lie told to Eve in the Garden: that we can become as God.
We were tempted to bite the apple that would give us knowledge of good and evil. And we not only bit it; we swallowed it, core and seed. The knowledge of good is natural to us: it is the knowledge of truth, of that which exists. The knowledge of evil had to be acquired, which means it is unnatural to us: it is the knowledge of falsehood, of that which does not exist.
Now that which is natural to us is that which we can never lose. We know goodness, which is God, and this knowledge is something that even the damned will never be without. It is, in fact, the source of their pain: to be cut off from that which they long for by nature and to be joined to that which is unnatural and which all their being rejects. We experience this in life. When we are in the state of grace, we rest in our nature as God designed it, although we need the help of supernatural grace to sustain it in this fallen world. When we are steeped in sin, we cannot rest in our nature as God designed it. We are quite literally restless, which is why the modern world is always in frantic motion.
The idea that all the suffering we endure is due to external and remediable causes ignores that primal calamity that we call original sin. God made us in His image, and in that sense we were perfect; but we then distorted that image with our own invention, and because of this our perfection was perverted, literally turned away from itself. Grace is the necessary reorientation to our nature as created in the image of God.
Any scheme of social organization that locates evil in external structures rather than in our own fallen nature is based on a false premise. Every modern ideology, and the governments that espouse them, rest on falsehood. Some ideologies are worse than others — that is, further removed from the truth — but all systems founded on a fundamental lie will sooner or later fail. When they do, the bottom drops out of the world they fabricated and much misery results.
We are now witnessing the demise of modern Europe, which was built on the socialist ideology that the state can justly allocate resources to guarantee the well-being of all its citizens. To accomplish this, however, the state needs a great deal of power, which means the individual has much less power; and the state needs a great deal of money, which means the individual must surrender a large part of his income for redistribution according to the state’s decrees. Such a system is essentially materialistic: it assumes that man is a material being and organizes itself around this assumption. As this is not the case, socialism fails to produce the peace and prosperity, let alone the economic justice, it promises.
Europe now is drowning in debt, in economic stagnation, in people accustomed to looking to government to make them whole and happy. And it has opened its borders to indigent populations of unassimilable Muslims who not only must be fed and housed at public expense, but many of whom are hostile to their host country and its native culture. There is nothing in the present structure of Europe that can stand. We are seeing it collapse, as its leaders continue to mouth their stale and fatuous rhetoric even as they stand amid the mounting ruins.
In the United States, the divisions are becoming ever more pronounced, although the battle lines are not always well-defined. But whether it is the Left with its socialist vision, or the Make America Great Again faction with its reconstituted capitalism, the focus is still principally materialistic. There are moral overtones, of course. The Left despises traditional morality; the right has some attachment to conventional norms. But ill-defined abstractions such as globalism and populism obscure the nature of the essential problem, which has to do with the truth about human nature: original sin. So long as we fail to be clear about the enduring truth on which all possible solutions to passing problems must rest, we will continue to founder in a sea of confusion.
To suggest that the remedy to social and economic ills can only be found in religious truths appears to many as an evasion of the immediate need for practical action. But can any action be truly practical unless it is founded in reality? Is it impractical to say that the only way the world can have peace is by obeying Our Lady of Fatima? Is it more practical to propose United Nations resolutions, Climate Change accords, synods and summits and endless meetings of every description among people without shared values? Who is really being impractical?
The world has had many painful object lessons in what does not work, including two world wars and countless lesser conflicts. Yet we continue to act as though what has failed us in the past will somehow work in the future. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. The world is clearly insane. It is time we tried what will work: Let’s turn to Our Lady and do as She has asked. It’s time to be sane, to be sound, to be realistic; that is, to recall that we are made in the image of God and to return to our God-given nature through the grace that is offered us.