As Michael Novak recently note in his article Caritapolis: A New Global Vision the powers that be have been over the last century “preoccupied with two questions: one political, one economic.” And behind those two questions lies a philosophy that defines humans as all biology and no soul, or if there is a soul, a personality, there must be a DNA sequence that rules it, even though we’ve been unable to find it. To a degree this is some advanced thinking and should not be ignored. There is no doubt we’ve benefitted from it, but this type of thinking will all be for naught if in the end we, as Novak states, “lived like pigs, enslaved to our desires without reflection”. And it will all be for naught if we increasing become uncivil and never come closer to a voluntary peace among neighbors, communities and nations.
To define humans as only biological brutes who are only motivated by political or economic survival is like driving a vehicle with huge blind spot. You are apt to recklessly miss out on a big part of what it means to be human and miss out on a more complete understanding the human condition. Your will mostly likely fail to understand that we are all pilgrims of the universe, we are all part of that ancient song, all part of the sea and the stars, part of the mountains, the moon and Mars. In other words, we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, more grand than we can fathom. To define human and human motivation as only biology is like defining music only in terms of notes, scales, and measures, when what makes music special is its transcendent ability to express what we cannot with only words. To be only limited to biology, denies the divine that is common in all of us that is most often expressed in our relationships with our families and our friends, most found in our rare expressions of unconditional love towards others. It is what gives each of our individual stories context and meaning, no matter who we are. There are no genes for love, honesty, kindness, work, faith, charity, and humility. Just as there is no genes for greed, avarice, hate, sloth, doubt, and anger. These are not merely survival techniques or biological adaptation or mutations that make us no different from amoebas.
Trying to solve humanity’s problems in only political or economic terms has proven to be divisive and dangerous to whoever is on the wrong side of the powerful because it is has become extremely ideological and ignores what is common between us and foolishly ignores that there is a natural moral law that we all benefit from adhering to.
Instead all things are relative and there is no right or wrong and as a consequence there is no common good to rally around. And what we get is a venal democracy where politicians argue back and forth about their favorite shades of grey and freedom becomes a shallow expression of consumerism and “doing your own thing”, instead of a means to moral and personal excellence. What we need most is more people, especially our young people, striving to do the right thing for the right reasons being able to see beyond what is expedient, convenient or popular with the majority. Our country needs more and more people, no matter where they come from, who are spiritually animated by the pursuit of truth, happiness and liberty and understand their moral and transcendental dimensions.
Our world would be much improved if our solutions included a spiritual dimension that recognized the divinity and dignity in all humans. An enlightened humanity that recognized humans, despite all their faults and perfections, as Thomas Aquinas noted, the most beautiful creature of all creation especially when in their battle between good and evil, freely choose the good.