The Solution to Institutional Stupidity: No Child Left Below
What I mean is that the element of time must be considered, and as we all know, time takes time, and eternity even more. Things don't happen instantaneously, as if by magic. An acorn doesn't just "decide" to be a tree, and then skip the process of actually becoming one.
Rather, there is a maturational or formative process that operates from the inside out via formal and final causation. Thus, on a personal level it is very much analogous to the belief in liberty and spontaneous order as opposed to the conviction that it is preferable for one's life to be ordered by distant, top-down decision makers. Left to your own devices, you'll only mess things up.
Obviously there is a great deal of truth in the latter, as many, if not most, people will misuse, abuse, or otherwise waste the freedom their smarter-than-average furbears fought so bravely to secure. But liberty is no picnic, especially for people with spines of jelly and no stones.
This becomes especially problematic once the habits of freedom are lost, stolen, or betrayed. People inevitably behave less responsibly when there is no penalty for doing so, which is then used as evidence by the left to prove that citizens cannot cope with liberty, and require an intrusive state to care for them. It's a great little scam they have going.
An obvious example is our contemporary "urban culture." These people are so obviously messed up and dysfunctional, how could you be so heartless as to deny them the help they need from mommy government? And when we say "urban culture," we are not only referring to inner city Americans. Rather, the identical phenomenon has occurred in England and other western welfare states, as compellingly described in Dalrymple's Life at the Bottom. From the review at the top:
"[T]his volume puts forth a vision of the modern world and of intellectualized modernism as hell," describing an underclass that is "'not poor... by the standards of human history' but trapped in 'a special wretchedness' from which it cannot emerge."
Ironically, the clueless liberal reviewer at Publisher's Weakling doesn't like it, in part because Dalyrymple "offers few concrete or theoretical solutions." In other words, s/h/it will concede that Dr. Dalrymple's diagnosis of the failings of liberalism is both astute and provocative, but hey, how come he doesn't offer any liberal prescriptions? Doy!
Either the problem is in man, or the problem is in "institutions" and other collectivities. The left locates the problem in abstractions such as "institutional racism," but the much deeper problem facing the underclass is the institutional stupidity its members have imbibed from the left. To put it another way, members of the underclass who refuse to absorb left wing institutional stupidity will not remain there long.
This can be demonstrated empirically with statistics showing that there is no such thing as "the poor" in any reified sense. Rather, it is only an abstraction created by the left, and which specifically eliminates the temporal element in order to create the illusion of stasis.
But the plain fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Americans are not still in the "underclass" five or ten years later, which means that there is really no such thing, and therefore no basis for their class warfare.
In other words the left wants the people who fill the lower quintile or decile at any given moment to abandon the well-understood behaviors and values that will lift them out of the underclass, and instead do battle with those "selfish" people who have already successfully risen out of it.
And if this abstraction doesn't succeed, there is never a shortage of individual exceptions, of heartbreaking stories provided by the media to "prove" that The System Doesn't Work, and that we need a huge welfare state to help their Cavalcade of Victims.
But nearly five decades since the War on Poverty commenced with the shit heard 'round the world, there is, curiously, the same percentage of people in the bottom quintile. How can this be? Can't we just empty out that quintile and put everyone in the top 75%? Can't we give all Americans a free college education, so that half the population will no longer be fated to a life of below average intelligence? Let's do it! While we're at it, let's make every man tall and handsome, and every woman a California Girl!
When I say that our educational system consists of liberal seminaries, I am not only being quite literal, but plagiarizing Dennis Prager. I think the only way one can recognize what is otherwise a banality is to hold a different set of values. Then one sees quite vividly that children are being forced by law to undergo statist indoctrination (unless one can afford a private school).
Prager mentioned another recent example, with an Orwellian story from Maryland about how children can no longer graduate high school without being "environmentally literate." You can be sure that this will not revolve around sober and skeptical questioning of Algore-style hysteria and pseudo-science, just as the California requirement that children be "culturally literate" doesn't involve learning just how crappy most cultures are. Indeed, it is against the law to depict any culture in an unflattering light, which means that the left has succeeded in making it against the law to think.
My kid has only finished kindergarten, but he has already imbibed a number of precious values that will stand him in good stead for the rest of his life. This is because in his religious school there is not only an emphasis on intellectual formation but of moral formation, or the articulation and development of the conscience (which in many ways is the marker of genuine psychospiritual maturity). Throughout the year he learned that life consists of choices and that he is free to choose between them. This is on the one hand liberating, but also a burden, in that it means that we are responsible.
To propagate the opposite lesson -- that we have no meaningful freedom and that we are oppressed and victimized by "the system" -- is a form of child abuse, because it not only stunts but warps moral development, since it legitimizes violent action to right the injustice.
Frankly, violence is indeed justified against a tyrannical regime, but the left's misuse of this valid principle results in frivolous Europeans rioting because they might not be able to retire in state-funded affluence at the age of 50. Once one is "entitled," then removing the entitlement is felt as a form of persecution and oppression, as when the civil right to a lavish pension at taxpayers' expense is threatened. No appeasement of greed, no peace!
We got off on this tangent as a result of mentioning the temporal element in the divine life. It occurred to me while flipping through the John Paul bio we've been discussing. It describes the years during which he underwent his "priestly formation," as one does not, and cannot, simply "decide" to become a priest. For one thing, the decision is not ours to make. Rather, it is a calling to a vocation which can only gradually be heard and revealed.
For John Paul it was "an evolutionary process of gradual clarification or 'interior illumination.'" As the process unfolded, there was a simultaneous "progressive detachment from my earlier plans."
You might say that as the interior priest "grew," the exterior ego shrank. He began to recognize that "the people who had touched his life most profoundly... were not fragmentary incidents in a life, but signposts along a path pointing in the direction of the priesthood." And if one draws out the implications of this ontology, then they were also pointing to his papacy and even to this very post, among literally countless other "goods" that resulted (yes, I realize it may not be good for you, but that's just the way God rolls).
But there is also effort or willed cooperation with the call (↑). Elsewhere it describes how he later encountered a certain philosopher, and how "after two months of hacking my way through this vegetation I came to a clearing, to the discovery of the deep reasons for what until then I had only lived and felt.... What intuition and sensibility had until then taught me about the world found solid confirmation."
This describes the Raccoon's familiar transition to post-egoic knowing, or what we might call the conviction of the mind by the intellect. After that, one is capable of "thinking in God" as opposed to just feeling, sensing, or being attracted.
In a way, one might say that John Paul was pulled into the vortex of O, and that innumerable others have been pulled along with him, as if in his wake. In fact, I think this is a good analogy of how the nonlocal saints are able to exert such a profound influence upon our lives. One doesn't just enter "a book," but in a sense enters them.
This, of course, would be the inner meaning of Jesus' statements about "preparing the way," or of living "in" him. A friend once told me that he drove cross country by staying close behind large trucks pulling him in their wake, thus saving lots on gas.
Reminds us of an old post, Breaker Breaker, Anyone With a Copy, Come On. It's from January 2006, and its subtext is that I had already reached the outer limits of my self, and was running short on ideas. Fortunately, I gave up trying to come up with any, which is what has made the subsequent 1,691 posts possible. I very much feel as if both I and this corpulent corpus were given shape through deriving below some big ol' mothertrucker in the sky. Of course, your smileage may vary.
An apt aphorism or two of Don Colacho come to mind: of how in genuine spiritual development "the materials are not fused in a new alloy; they are integrated into a new element," and how "The quality of an intelligence depends less on what it understands than on what makes it smile."
Guess I must be semi-crazy: