"On the one hand, humankind is a single entity. All human persons stand in solidarity before God. But on the other hand, humankind is a community, male and female." Neither alone is the full image, thus the community of Israel, the body of Christ, and marriage, each of which illuminates the part/whole relation: we ourselves are only whole when we are part of something larger. Which goes to the trinitarian nature of the Godhead.
Thus, Jesus "is not an idea which lives in a cosmological vacuum." Rather, "it is an explicit call to form a new kind of human community in which the members, after the manner of the gracious God, are attentive in calling each other to full being in fellowship."
Or in other words, we help each other to become more human, to actualize our potential, to become who we are, to discover our idiom.
This can only be accompliced in the proper community. In fact, most communities not only do not facilitate these things, but actively block them. I know that's how it was for me in my depressing slog through public education: it digested me rather than vice versa.
And it's only getting worse. In Psychology Today, of all places, there's a perceptive piece on how fragile students have become:
"[S]tudents’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading. Some [teachers] said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices. Many students, they said, now view a C, or sometimes even a B, as failure, and they interpret such 'failure' as the end of the world."
Teachers "described an increased tendency to see a poor grade as reason to complain rather than as reason to study more, or more effectively. Much of the discussions had to do with the amount of handholding faculty should do versus the degree to which the response should be something like, 'Buck up, this is college.'
"Students are afraid to fail; they do not take risks; they need to be certain about things. For many of them, failure is seen as catastrophic and unacceptable. External measures of success are more important than learning and autonomous development.
"We have raised a generation of young people who have not been given the opportunity to learn how to solve their own problems. They have not been given the opportunity to get into trouble and find their own way out, to experience failure and realize they can survive it, to be called bad names by others and learn how to respond without adult intervention. So now, here’s what we have: Young people, 18 years and older, going to college still unable or unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, still feeling that if a problem arises they need an adult to solve it."
Tell me about it. This may be my last season of coaching baseball, because I cannot believe what I am seeing: eleven or twelve year old boys who cry when they are called out, or who ask to sit out an inning because they are "too hot," or who insist on pitching when it will only hurt the team because they can't freaking throw a strike.
Before the first game, when we were handing out uniforms, one kid started crying because he wanted a different number. He became petulant and refused the jersey, even though the number he wanted was on a much larger jersey and would have looked like a dress on him. I could go on and on... But how are we producing these dysfunctional pussies? If you tell them to be a man, they genuinely have no idea what you're talking about!
The implications are not trivial, because I think this is ultimately how we end up with a president Obama. Mitt Romney received 62% of the white male vote in 2012, which translates to 100% of the white male vote.
Another unblogged book sitting on my desk is Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child. It's only so-so, but I'll bet it goes to some of what was just said above.
Esolen addresses the critical distinction between freedom and compulsion. For example, back in my day, no kid would have been "free" to pout and refuse his jersey. It was beyond the horizon of anyone's imagination, unless the kid were retarded or something. So what was this brat exhibiting, if not freedom? Such boneless wonders are "in the deadly habit of simultaneously exalting themselves and making themselves puny" (speaking of Obama!).
"I believe we are bringing children up not for the freedom we enjoy but for the compulsions we suffer. Some of those compulsion we even mistake for freedom, so that the more of them we win, the more tightly we bind ourselves, body and soul." So if that kid wins the Battle of the Jersey, he really loses, as he remains mired in his infantile compulsion.
I have to admit, I could have handled the situation better. I was so taken aback that I was caught somewhat speechless. If I could go back and do it again, I would have simply dropped the jersey at his feet, said "man up," "not my problem," or "deal with it, Private Snowball," and moved on. After all, that is what he desperately needs.
Esolen: "To be 'free' is not to do as you please but rather to realize the fulfillment of your natural and created being, without impediments." The "drive for love and truth is itself [man's] liberty." This is opposed to a range of counterfeit choices that convince the person he is free, when he really dwells "in a cramped world, spiritually and intellectually and humanly speaking."
Esolen implicitly touches on the subject of mind parasites. As we have discussed in the past (and in the book), when you are under the compulsion of a mind parasite, it can be accompanied by a subjective sense of freedom. But its freedom is really your compulsion; thus, they "make us less than human. They bind us to automatisms. They give us choice in what is evil or foolish or trivial, just as the keepers of an asylum will let their charges watch television or play poker for pennies."
This is the same liberal stupidity that sets you free. It is a wholly negative freedom, or a freedom without content, direction, or telos. Thus it is the very quintessence of nihilism, literally another word for disordered or worthless or futile. And it is, by the way, the same freedom promised by the serpent in our nonlocal garden.
"Freedom, in the end, is an intrinsic virtue, not an extrinsic condition, an accident of politics. It is not a negative -- freedom from. Instead it is positive -- freedom for." It is "the unimpeded capacity of a creature to make real the fulfillment that is built into its very nature" (Esolen).