Monday, October 13, 2014

Change the World

I watched the trailer for a new Disney movie called "Tomorrowland." It was narrated by George Cluny and in the midst of this enigmatic narrating you here him say "a place... where you could actually change the world." You here a lot about changing the world, but if it were up to me, I would balk at the chance. Where's that little bit of humility that says you don't know what you are doing with your own life, so where do you get off thinking you can and should change the world? Be the change you desire or something like that, said Gandhi, as you see it quoted all the time on Facebook and everywhere else. It's even on my kids' daily planner for their Catholic school. I guess they ran out of inspiring Catholic things to print.

The idea of changing the world came, I'd say, from Bacon and all those who picked up his utilitarian stream of thought, but what have these social engineers actually pulled off? Man is not better than he was. He lives longer, but he is just as violent as he ever was, if not more so. And things can only get worse as we loose respect for the mystery of human life as made int eh image and likeness of God. Obama thought he was going to change the world and was rewarded with a Nobel Prize even before he did anything at all. And what has six years brought? Chaos in Iraq and Ukraine. It's economy is in turmoil. Unemployment has skyrocketed along with its debt.

This is what happens when you lack humility. It's hard to accept the world on its own terms. There is sickness, poverty, ignorance, pollution and hatred. Who can stop it? Only God, of course, and He chooses to work through people on a one-on-one basis. People who can't even run their own lives (me, all of us), how do we dare dream of imposing our wills on others. The people who criticize big business never have business degrees, but somehow still think they have all the solutions. I mean Trudeau is an even worse example of this than Obama. People who want to impose their wills on others by means of force of law are scary. Plato and Aristotle were the wisest men in their whole cultures and yet never gave up asking and thinking about how to fix things. And the types of questions they asked we never the specific plans of the engineers. This is what you are to eat, what you are to plant, how you are going to work, what you are going to wear, drive, believe. That is scary enough coming from a parent who loves his children and who knows them better than anyone else in the world; imagine then how scary it is when someone arrogates this kind of decision-making prerogative to themselves!

Please, do not, Lord, allow me to build a tower so high that I come to have within my field of vision the whole expanse of the universe, for then, how could I fail to consider than I now know it all and can therefore tell the whole world how it must behave?

It never ceases to amaze a friend of mine how frequently people assume that a body of knowledge coincides with their knowledge of it, or just slightly beyond it. I have read X number of books on Catholicism, Therefore total knowledge of the subject must be not greater than X + 1. The best professors I have had were always those who hardly would dare to speak outside of their own very limited field with any kind of definitiveness. I always tried to act this way, and, as you know, some of my students didn't respect me for it, saw it as a sign of weakness, a flaw, because, ultimately, it meant that neither would they be able to learn it all, to figure everything out.

Regardless of their political stripe, ideologues are the worst kind of people. They all want to change the world. Let us hope that men never do this again.

They are very different kinds of people, are they not, on the one hand, those who pick themselves up every day and kind of shake off their mistakes, even with a laugh, and say, whoops, that didn't work out so well, and they muster up the kind of courage to try again tomorrow, and those, on the other hand, to whom it never occurs that they have no right to mess with the lives of others, who bound from great thing to great thing, never having realized that the fault in success and in failure was that they thought they had a right to do so? I need to keep coming back to St. Paul's wish that we should live a quiet kind of life. It is hard, especially during this whole marriage synod debacle. But it's none of my business. Nothing is any of my business beyond living according to God's word and bringing this word to my family and to whomever else cared to listen, or perhaps even needed to listen.


  1. Well, there goes tonight's dinner conversation! I will trash the Gandhi-themed napkins and pull out the birthday-balloon ones for you.

  2. personally, i love Gandhi. I am probs the only person I know who has read his autobiography. But all my other points remain.

  3. Colin's deafening silence on the synod clearly indicates he wholeheartedly agrees with everything that is going on.

    Ok, just trying to goad you into writing about it...

  4. haha. did you go to OLSWA, by chance?

    For peace of mind I need to ignore the Synod. How am I doing? That good huh?