All of history bears the traces of this strange dilemma between the non-violent, tranquil demands made by the truth, on the one hand, and the pressure brought to make profits and the need to have a good relationship with the powers that determine daily life by their interventions, on the other hand. Again and again, we see the victory of profit over truth, although the signs of the truth and of its own power never disappear completely. Indeed, they continue to live, often in surprising forms, in the very heart of a jungle full of poisonous plants.
Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, 98
Reflection – I’ve blogged excerpts from this excellent little essay entitled “The Natural Knowledge of God” from this excellent little book several times already. In this passage, we see how well Ratzinger understands the heart of our fallen humanity. We are always facing just this dilemma: there is truth, always surrounding us, always awaiting our attention, ready to present itself to us and make its ‘tranquil demands’ on us… and then there’s the world and its not-so-tranquil demands.
We know we’re not supposed to torture people… but we’re being attacked by terrorists! We have to torture them! We have to find out what they’re planning! Yeah, yeah, we’re not supposed to torture. That’s ‘true’. But we have to live in the real world, right! So, torture away…
We know we’re not supposed to abort babies. But women are in trouble! We can’t expect this ‘truth’ about human life and its inviolable dignity to apply to real life! So abort away… and the wreckage of human lives goes on and on, most especially to the women put in this horrific situation.
It happens on so many fronts. There is God and his truth, his vision and plan for human life. But I want to have fun! I want to make my money! I want to have the number of children I want to have! I want to be left alone! I want to look good! I want the Church to look good! I want... I want… I want. So many ways of ‘profiting’ that the truth runs counter to.
And if it’s not the desire for profit, it’s the fear of the powers that determine the world. God and his truth are over there… but my peers are over here, and they will reject me. My family is all around me, and they will make fun of me. The business world works a certain way – lying and greed are built into the system, you know! And so on and so on.The story doesn’t change from century to century, even if the specific metrics of profit change along with the specific powers needing to be placated. Always, though, God and his Truth await us, patiently, mercifully, implacably. Always we can choose the narrow path, the hard way. We can choose the truth, choosing to believe, even if we don’t quite see it, that the truth will set us free.