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Morality in the Land of the Absurd

Of course our country has been the land of the free.  And that freedom has been bought because some have been willing to pay the ultimate price so that the rest have the opportunity to live in peace.   These few have lived out Christ’s words.  ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.’ (John 15:12-15)  While those who serve often go to protect their families, those they know, they also go because of a sense of duty.  They knowingly go to protect those they do not even know.  It is the ultimate sacrifice, and an example of the greatest type of love/charity that demands our honor and respect.  God is surely pleased by their actions, as he is saddened by the need for their sacrifice - because some choose not to live in accordance to His commands.  Thank you to all who have served and all who are serving.

I bring up this topic today, because underlying the voluntary choice above is morality - action grounded in righteousness and not just words.  An action that presents such a contrast against many of our federal government’s actions today, when things seem so upside down.  The action of one potentially offering to sacrifice them self in order to save someone else.  Let me present an example to contrast against the above.

I recently saw a rerun of the The Magnificent Seven.   At the beginning, some bandits come into a poor Mexican village and begin taking things; food, money, clothes, anything of value.  Their leader talks to one of the villagers about robbing the poor box from a church and how little there was in it.  The bandit concludes that religion doesn’t make much of a difference in people’s lives anymore.  After all, he has a great responsibility to feed and clothe so many men.  Why would those in the village deny him doing that?  In other words, why are you forcing me to rob you?  This is the notion of entitlement, that you owe it to me to solve my problem; that you must sacrifice in order to save me.  There is no virtue in this position.  This is vice parading itself as virtue.

This is the difference between Augustine and Locke, between individualism and collectivism.  Augustine called those who live in the city of men dens of robbers, and when those robbers become powerful enough they take on the titles of princes and kings, or to use today’s terms titles such as President, Secretary, Senator, and Representative - among others.  This post looks at two recent events reflecting this difference.  The fact that both were done around Memorial Day is bad enough, but the way in which both have been done compounds the offense.  It is again vice wrapping itself in virtue in an attempt to claim it is virtue, but this is false - a moral affront.  It is simply the imposition of an ideology by an elitist few, the very core of collectivism, and current examples of why collectivism is so contrary to our nature and purpose.  It is a perversion of them.

The first event is the recent upheaval from the federal government’s pushing out regulations related to gender identity.  This is only the most recent outgrowth in what is claimed to be the new civil rights supportive of same sex marriage.  This specific fight includes forcing schools to allow students to choose whatever bathroom they wish based upon the gender they choose to identify with.  This is truly absurd.  This position asserts that gender identity is an internal perception as opposed to a physical trait.  Another absurdity.  It is the difference between knowing oneself (so that one will know their Creator) and denying oneself (likely so one will not know their Creator).  It is about a false choice using an equality of outcomes - bathroom access.

Just as with all collectivist notions, the means do not matter.  This time they are not only trying to force it into society in general, but also trying to force it into the schools using the funding they provide for leverage.  Really?  We have no more pressing problems than this?  We have an administration that will have added almost $10 trillion to our national debt in eight years - all by their lonesome.  We face threats externally and internally through the likes of ISIS and various anarchist movements such as Black Lives Matter. 

But just as with all other moral issues, imposed morality ceases to be moral.  All law is to be grounded in moral uprightness as the purpose of governance is to execute the virtue of justice, and justice is the giving to each what they have earned.  All human law, and what are talking about is human law, ‘is to be useful to men … namely that it is consistent with religion as corresponding with divine law, that it agrees with good discipline as corresponding to natural law, and that it furthers our welfare as corresponding to human usefulness.’[1]  The gender identity effort fails on all three counts because it is not aimed at supporting morality, but rather at destroying it.

Throughout history collectivist societies have attempted to remove morality as it often gets in the way of the elites who wish to rule a society.  This case is no different.  It is simply the means chosen to a specific end.  In recent history, collectivism has pushed and forced a compromise on its terms.  It is time that we push back and force them to compromise on terms supportive of our purpose as God’s people.  Make no mistake, this is as much a war as any conflict this country has been involved with.  The greatest difference is that this is a spiritual war, and it will take spiritual tools to win it.

The second recent event is Mr. Obama’s trip to Hiroshima.  To be sure, there are grains of truth in his statements.  People come to that site to ponder the force used, mourn for the dead, and to reflect.  However, he goes on to say that it was a war fought by the most wealthy and powerful nations, and their instincts for domination.  Such a stance implies that all were the aggressors in this war, and that is simply not the case.  Such a view removes the act from its context, and that is simply presenting another false choice.

What was not mentioned is that the Japanese society of today is very different from that in the 1930’s.  It was a totalitarian state built upon fascism and nationalism.  A belief that the Japanese society was superior to all others.  Within that society men possessed more rights than women, and those who were outside of that society were not fit enough to have rights - they were not human.  These are the collectivist views as expressed by the Greek philosophers, and many since.  They ignore the equality of our human nature and instead assert that some are more equal than others.  They present two incompatible and contradictory views, one regarding our Creator given nature and the other man’s ideology.  If this society sounds a lot like ISIS and the tenets of Islam, it is because in many ways they share the same root, and if they share the same root they will surely follow a similar path.

So let us look briefly at the history of this period, so we can weigh the decision within its context.  That is the only way to ascertain the morality of such a grave decision.  The war in the eastern theater began in September, 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria.  Japan had a large population, but few resources, and the natural resources in the Asian mainland presented a great attraction to resolve that problem.  Japan began a more general war with the rest of China in 1937.  The presence of the British and US forces in this part of the world curbed Japanese nationalist aggression, and the US placed economic sanctions on Japan creating resource shortages within that country.

In response, Japan attacked the British and US forces in an attempt to take resources from other countries in Southeast Asia.  Japanese forces treated captured soldiers and civilians in brutal fashion.  Many were killed outright, tortured, raped, and mutilated.  The following estimates of total military and civilian deaths comes from the National WWII Museum.[2]

·         China                                     20,000,000 (although estimates are as high as 50,000,000)

·         Dutch East Indies                3 - 4,000,000

·         French Indochina                1 - 1,500,000

·         Korea                                    378,000 - 473,000

·         Philippines                           500,000 - 1,000,000

US and British involvement in the war came as a result of Japanese attacks upon them.  This is the basis for moral war described by Augustine, where one party refuses to acknowledge the humanity of another and to impose its will by force, ignoring the equality of nature that we each possess and the rights that are inherent to all within that notion.  Further, the Japanese were unwilling to relinquish their ideology, as the battles of Guadalcanal, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa indicate.  Estimates run as high as 1,000,000 total deaths if an invasion of the Japanese mainland were to occur.  This is the context which must be remembered when talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So what was Mr. Obama’s solution?  As human beings we have a core contradiction, a capacity that sets us apart from the rest of nature and along with that a capacity for unmatched destruction.  He called for an evolution of human institutions and a moral revolution.  That Hiroshima should be the start of a moral awakening.  This last is true.  However, it is not an evolution or revolution that is needed, but instead an admission of who we really are, an acknowledgement to whom we belong, and a return to our purpose.  This can only happen when we return to understanding both the languages of reason and faith.  When we once again look to our nature instead of ideology.

I will close with a quote from John Stuart Mill.  While there is much that I believe he got wrong in his writing, I think he found truth in this statement, and we should look for the truth wherever it may be found.

‘The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.’[3]

However, it is a freedom that must be connected to our Creator as only He is the source of morality.  ‘In this world, therefore, the dominion of good men is profitable, not so much for themselves as for human affairs.  But the dominion of bad men is hurtful chiefly to themselves who rule, for they destroy their own souls by greater license in wickedness; while those who are put under them in service are not hurt except by their own iniquity.  For to the just all the evils imposed on them by unjust rulers are not the punishment of crime, but the test of virtue.  Therefore the good man, although a slave, is free; but the bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices.’[4]



[1] Aquinas, Thomas, Summa Theologicae, Volume 28, p. 109, 1a2ae, 94, 6.

[2] http://www.nationalww2museum.org/learn/education/for-students/ww2-history/ww2-by-the-numbers/world-wide-deaths.html.  Accessed May, 2016.

[3] Mill, John Stuart, On Liberty, Introduction, http://www.bartleby.com/130/1.html.  Accessed May, 2016.

[4] Schaff, Philip, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, Augustin:  City of God, Christian Doctrine, p. 66, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.  Book IV, Chapter 3.

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About Dan Wolf

Dan WolfMy goal is that my writing will help you to get started on your own journey of discovery, or help you along the way on a journey you may have already begun. Our Founders considered education, religion, morality, and virtue to be the cornerstones for any successful society. Being successful requires understanding both the languages of reason and faith; reason alone is insufficient.