The most opposite modern views of the world share the same starting point: the denial of the natural ethical law and the reduction of the world to ‘mere’ facts.
‘We can change the world. Rearrange the world… Rules and regulations who needs them? Open up the door…’ The
, Stills, Nash, and Young song
remains the unofficial theme song of our times. We have been proudly ‘opening up doors’ for centuries now, changing and rearranging and jettisoning all rules with… well, I was going to say ‘with impunity’ but I don’t think it quite works that way.
Some of those doors have monsters behind them. Other doors were fire doors, holding back the annihilating forces of nature. Other doors were trap doors leading to oubliettes, and our flinging open of those means millions of forgotten ones have plunged down into the abyss of obliteration.
When we jettison the natural law—that is, when we start from the premise that there is no ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’ built into the nature of things, the very structure of reality—then we are left in a world of facts and figures, forces of energy and brute matter. But this world of facts proves to be far more cruel and pitiless than any moral system ever developed.
We proudly uphold ‘reproductive freedom’, meaning the aggressive separation of sexual activity from pro-creation. Birth rates plunge throughout the developed world, virtually to extinction points in some countries. And so the demographic crisis heightens and tightens and worsens… and in a few years we will start euthanizing our elderly, the same elderly who in their youth proudly chose the path of contraception and abortion. The children they didn’t have are now unable to care for them and love them in their declining years. Rules and regulations, who needs them?
Oh yeah, we do… the same holds true for the looming global economic crisis. For years, decades now we (that is, our governments) have been living on credit and fancy bookkeeping and borrowing from our children and grandchildren to pay for a prosperous lifestyle. Well, our children and grandchildren have proven to be no-shows (see above paragraph for explanation). And the debt is coming due; the money is running out. What does this mean and what does will look like? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else does, either.
And the environment… ‘we can change the world…’ can we change how food grows from the earth? Can we change the nature of living creatures? Can we really sustain the current system of food production, the heavily urbanized civilization which requires a global network of food supply chains, fewer and fewer farmers feeding an ever-growing non-food growing population? When the money runs out (see above paragraph), how is all this food going to keep moving as it must?
Anyhow, sorry to be a downer on Canada Day. But we need to reclaim this ethical sense, this sense that in the very nature of things, given by God, is a structure, an order, a truth which yields a genuine good, a truth and goodness which respected and lived from yields a genuine beauty. Otherwise, we are at the mercy of pitiless ‘facts’, a tsunami of facts that is, in fact, rushing at our civilization fairly quickly now, and will swamp us in the coming decades.
God is merciful; nature is not. The moral law is a gift of mercy from God, to teach us how to live in this world so that ‘nature’ is our friend and companion, our intimate teacher of the ways of God and our nursemaid in the ways of the Spirit (I have much more to say on that subject, but for another time…).
Without that moral law, and the sense that it flows directly from the natural order, we are terribly vulnerable, terribly endangered, and I fear that all of us—my beloved nation of Canada very much at the top of the list—are going to feel the weight of mere facts very soon indeed, if we do not recover the true values coming from the heart of God.