As America tries to assimilate another school shooting in Florida, the uncomfortable question is: why wouldn’t such things happen when education and social structures teach that truth and morality are fluid? Who dictates what is right, wrong, tolerated or not? Someone could claim logical reasons for it, such as anger, retaliation, depression, or under privilege.
But killing people at random is wrong, we say. Says who?
Modernity has deemed it a choice to take certain lives – pre-born, defective, diseased, elderly, unproductive, or dying. Why not other lives?
Society is at its desperation point, because it cannot agree on truth anymore. What’s worse, there’s no consistent agreement on consequence when laws (once based on agreed-upon truth) are violated. Do perpetrators get punished — or affirmed?
“There is no love – no charity – without truth, just as there is no real mercy separated from a framework of justice informed and guided by truth,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia a few weeks ago in his CatholicPhilly.com column, “Charity, clarity, and their opposite.”
Truth is conformity of the mind with reality, St. Thomas Aquinas says in his SummaTheologica. Then who determines reality, and establishes norms for conformity and behavior, and delineations of infraction and injustice?
For order to reign interiorly and societally there must exist objective, unchangeable Truth in reality. And there Is.
But this Truth has long since been banished from some churches, schools (even certain Catholic ones), workplaces, family gatherings, and other settings. So why would people assent to it?
Pontius Pilate didn’t recognize Truth, either, even when it stood right in front of him. Against his own judgment, he permitted condemnation of an Innocent – to please the crowd (Mark 15:15).
Pilate capitulated to human respect and political ambition. He crucified Truth.
And so it goes. Truth is subjugated to man’s whim.
About 35 years ago in an early-morning college class, our elderly anthropology professor interrupted his lecture, commanding a student to “take the superstition off” around her neck. She dropped her pen and hesitated, as she fingered the gold crucifix. In disbelief she glared at him. “I mean it!” he screeched bizarrely. “None of that will be tolerated in this class!” And she complied.
My pulse raged as my throat burned. I wanted to defend her, but didn’t know how. An aspiring journalism student, and I couldn’t muster a word.
For years, I carried the shame of my silence like a hot coal.
There’s a high price for asserting Truth— especially amid punishing opposition – but a higher price for remaining silent. Today’s confused society is living proof. “No truth can really exist apart from Christianity,” said Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman.
It comes down to whether we will accept the risk in persevering for that Truth.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Editor.