Time for Moral Inventory in the West

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As the United States and its allies have responded to the inexcusable terrorist attacks against innocent civilians perpetrated by misguided and bad men, there has been no shortage of attempts to uncover the reasons which may account for the hatred of so many against the west, particularly against the USA. And while most of the analysis has focused on the perceived imperial intentions of the American empire, its lopsided relationship to Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people, etc., too little analysis, I believe, has focused on an even more fundamental and urgent problem: the ubiquity of American decadence which is being exported all over the globe under the messianic banners of “freedom” and “diversity”.

Many political “progressives” and social activists cannot appropriately respond to this problem precisely because they too often share the “values” which Catholics can only view as gross abuses of freedom. They view these decadent forms of American freedom as integral to a constitutional form of government. These political progressives simply do not understand how and to what extent these anti-values offend so much of the world.

This is tragic.

Even the more politically “conservative,” starting with President Bush himself, have simplistically cast this war against terrorism as a battle “between good and evil,” as if all the good were on our side and all evil on the side of the terrorists. This demonizing of the “enemy” may be useful propaganda in wartime, but it will do little to ensure that those offended by such decadent notions of “freedom” will not seethe with resentment against the west until new forms of terrorism emerge in the decades ahead.

If we are serious about going to the roots of the most recent manifestations of terrorist hatred, we in the west had better look within ourselves and take the time for serious moral and cultural inventory. And soon. We must distinguish genuine freedom from corrupt, libertine, anti-family interpretations of the concept; for these are not necessary consequences of political freedom / democracy; and it should not surprise us that many nations and religions will never accept a “New World Order” which amounts to the collapse of traditional values rooted in the common moral consensus of humankind which has prevailed, all cultural and secondary differences aside, in the world’s major religions and even in many important secular philosophies.

I believe that it is incontestable that modern decadence, as manifest in such things as the philosophical attacks against life (as in abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, etc. ), in contempt for gender, in pornography, homosexuality, same-sex “marriage,” transgender philosophies and surgeries, —to name just a few western interpretations of “freedom”—are an affront to the major religions and traditional cultures of much of the world. Indeed they are an assault on nature and creation, reflecting a contempt for the world itself. Such transgressive philosophies threaten whole peoples and contradict the radical feminist’s alleged appreciation for diversity. We ignore this fact at our own peril.

When the United Nations, under the auspices of radical feminism(**), urges “reproductive freedom” (read: unnatural contraceptive chemical interference with women, as well as abortion and programs of population “control”) as the new moral imperatives, is it any wonder that so-called Third World peoples interpret such things as the systematic attempt to eliminate and control them, in order that the “First” World rich nations can maintain their power, materialistism and nihilistic standards of living?

The peoples who are the subjects of such assaults against pro-family values are not fooled by the altruistic rhetoric and co-opting of essentially religious concepts such as “compassion” and “justice,” which presumptuously accompanies such radical moral imperialism. They know a perverse form of neo-colonialism when they see it and they resent the cynical offering of IMF and World Bank monies as incentives (read: bribes) which exploits their economic underdevelopment. The poor want opportunity, not to be led like slaves by carrot and stick to wells they consider poisoned.

If the west is serious about putting an end to resentments which may lead to terrorism, it had better go to the roots of the problem and finally come to understand to what extent western nihilism offends so many vast cultures the world over, from India to Africa and the Middle east, to Central America and beyond. The west should put aside all messianic arrogance and examine its own moral deterioration which has only resulted in woe upon woe, to AIDS (0ver 25,000,000—million!— dead so far, with many more infected), to the abandoned children of a soaring divorce rate, to burned out women who are supposed to be loving mothers, true professionals and always sexually active without respite, to untold forms of existential loneliness for all the victims of this anti-family agenda and empty materialism.

When the family is destroyed, human beings have no home. Without a home human beings whither. The workplace, especially when it is a building block contributing to the general cultural idolatry, is hardly a substitute for the security and rest of home. Nor is trendy ideology, or political activism, or sexual promiscuity (the ultimate loneliness).

We are truly at one of the most critical crossroads in history. True compassion will help foster genuine human solidarity, not its disintegration through the cynical elimination of the poor via population “control” and unnatural chemicals. A “world order” which seeks to sever itself from traditional moral values is destined to collapse, one way or the other, for the same reason that any person with truly common (that is, traditional) sense will resent having his or her wallet stolen, or his or her spouse or children prostituted. Steal a man’s wallet and you’ll find that he does believe in a moral law afterall.

Traditional cultures will not part from the objective order of the world and its religions without a fight. And it will be the subversive agents of those cultures who will pay a high price for such violence against the moral law, one way or another, today or tomorrow. We would do better to respect them and strengthen our better principles. Otherwise we will reap what we sow, as the Scriptures say; and other religions too: the Buddha warned of those who would invert the moral order thinking they can circumvent the karmic law. And the Koran also teaches objective morality:

“He {God} exhorts them to work righteousness and refrain from evil, and he permits for them the good things and prohibits the bad, and he unloads the burden of their covenant and remove the chains that bind them.”

If we flout the values and exploit the economic vulnerabilities of the peoples of the earth, how can we fail to stir up wrath? The United States has step by step all but fallen into the moral sewer and seems hell-bent on exporting its pornosophy all over the face of the earth. Is it any wonder that many peoples are offended? It is a hard truth which we must face. There is no excuse for the attacks of September 11th, clearly. But America seems not to have noticed how much easier it has made it for those hell-bent on terror.

Mr. Stephen Hand is the Editor of “Traditional Catholic Reflections & Reports.

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