REFLECTION: Mending a broken world PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 August 2011 13:54


Now they are starting to admit it. The world is broken and it needs mending badly. At least, that’s how political leaders and commentators are saying about the riots and looting that erupted in London recently.

British Prime Minister David Cameron blamed the ugly incident to a “slow-motion moral collapse” of a good number of his constituents, especially the young. American columnist Peggy Noonan had a similar take. She said.

“The British press, left, right and center, was largely united in a refusal to make political excuses for the violence. Almost all agreed on the cause and nature of what happened. The cause was not injustice; this was not a revolt of the downtrodden masses, breaking into stores looking for food.

“The causes were greed, selfishness, a respect and even lust for violence, and a lack of moral grounding. Conscienceless predators preyed upon the weak. The weak were anyone who happened to be passing by, and those, many of them immigrants, who tried to defend their shops and neighborhoods...”

This is a developed country that is suffering from this calamity. If it were a lesser nation, like ours, it would have been more understandable. But this is one of the leading countries of the world, not only in terms of economics and but also in culture and civilization.
What has happened?

I’m sure there will be many views and opinions about this, all with their valid points. It’s worthwhile to look into them because they certainly will shed light on the incident.

But I’m also sure that the analyses will stop short of considering the role of God, of faith and religion in maintaining true peace and order, genuine harmony in any given society. And that would guarantee that the disaster will continue.

If the root cause is not touched, if the remedies stay only on the level of relieving the symptoms, dispensing palliatives only instead of the real curing medicine, then we would just be delaying and, worse, most likely building up a bigger catastrophe.

The British Prime Minister promised to undertake a “root and branch review” of all government policies to tackle the problem. But would that comprehensive effort include God, religion, faith that are supposed to give spirit and life to morality?

If morality is understood only as a matter of what is politically or socially correct, of what is culturally acceptable and the like, of how big a police force should be to deter such unrests, then forget it. The moral collapse in Britain as in any other country will continue to fester.

We all need to realize that the morality of our human acts is based on God, on religion, on faith. It just cannot be grounded on a political or social ideology, or guided only by the criteria of practicality, popular consensus, etc., much less by instigating fear or getting into coercion. We would miss the mark by a mile.

The problem that besets the world today is the bias that in politics and government affairs, God and religion should as much as possible be set aside. While it’s true that the distinction between faith and politics should be made and their autonomy respected, it’s also true that we should also respect their innate organic link.

We need to overcome this problem first. I know it has many aspects that need to be tackled properly, and they can be tricky. Just the same, this problem has to be licked. It can be done. It should be done, despite its difficulties.

How do you resuscitate a society suffering from moral collapse? By strengthening its spiritual life first, its relation with God. This means a massive program of formation that would enhance the development of virtues, a deepening knowledge of the authentic good of man—and this is God—and an abiding ascetical struggle.

If we take a cursory look around, I’m afraid that these concerns are hardly or badly attended to. Sadly, they now look like fossils hidden away in a corner of a school laboratory. In fact, many people, educated ones at that, scoff at these concepts.

They believe that morality should be about freedom to do anything as long as he does not cause any physical or external harm on others. For them, morality is just a matter of what is legally permitted and prohibited.

With such mentality, we are actually light years away from the ideal situation. It’s a big problem, but also a big challenge and chance to do something truly great in the world.    Would we accept the challenge?