"If I have seen further it is by standing
on the shoulders of giants"
Slowly, over eons, we evolve.
Darwin was the first to recognize the process of evolution--simple life structures progress to more complex forms. His discovery was monumental, it opened a whole new way of understanding the mystery of life. As a naturalist his focus was on the mechanisms that gave rise to the variety of physical forms. It was not his task to ask ontological questions. It is tragic that the magnitude of his brilliant insight has been overshadowed by an either/or clash about whether or not we humans evolved from apes.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a scientist, theologian and mystic, was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century. He did ask ontological questions and saw wonder, beauty and truth in evolution and through it the wonder of God offering to share His being with humankind. Teilhard authored more than 20 books. (Google him)
Evolution is more than a theory about how new species appeared on the planet--it is the central governing principle of the universe . . . beginning with energy coalescing to matter, matter to simple life forms, life forms increasing in complexity and consciousness until thought was born--therein evolution took a turn inward. Into the hands of the human came the means to shape the world. All else in the universe is acted upon--by forces of nature, circumstances of time and place, random happenstance--but with consciousness the human gained the power to create, still effected by forces of nature and unchosen circumstances, yet possessing the ability to change what is given into what can be imagined.
A long look at history shows a changing reality, a barbaric world slowly advancing toward civilizing itself, over eons we can discern consciousness gradually awakening as choices shape social order: rather than club one's neighbor and take his possessions by force, establish laws to live by; . . . stop invading and plundering those 'not us' and define national boundaries; . . . work to acquire knowledge and skill with which to educate people because education is a 'good' of life; . . . recognize that owning people - slavery - is wrong and should not be supported by a nation even though it presents economic advantages; . . . awaken to the plight of suffering people who lack life's necessities and reach out with help; . . . realize the corrupting effect of discrimination and oppression and seek peaceful means to bring justice.
Thus has civilization advanced--yet still the primitive selfishness that results in violence taints the world we build--and threatens to destroy it. We have yet to realize all life is interconnected and is shaped by our choices . . . but slowly, over eons, we evolve . . . consciousness is only slowly awakening.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Wars have been fought for many reasons: religion, politics, territory, resources, riches . . . most of them are not morally justified. St. Augustine originaated the phrase 'just war'; later St. Thomas Aquinas laid out the conditions for which a war is deemed morally justified.
Today politicians argue the pros and cons of our country becoming entangled in yet another military conflict on foreign soil. This nation is war-weary; our involvement in conflicts far away has cost American lives and brought about a finincial debt which future generations will still be paying in years to come.
What we are faced with now is not just 'another war'. With the rise of terrorism we are face to face with evil. Evil that knows no limits or boundaries, evil that will stop at nothing to achieve its objective to control by whatever means and impose its will on all within its sphere. This scourge is the antithesis of love, justice, and compassion -- while defiant of all rule of law and scornful of human rights. We've seen suicide bomber enter crowds of strangers with explosives strapped to their bodies to blow themselves up in order to kill as many unknown people as possible; we've seen them march scores of prisoner stripped naked, beaten, then laid face down in the sand and executed; we've seen them attack children on a school bus while proclaiming it wrong to seek an education then later kidnap scores of girls from their school to emphasize the point; we hear of these men amputating body parts for minor offences and stoning women to death for 'bringing shame' upon their families for their having been raped. We refused to broadcast the video tapes the jihadists arrogantly sent of them beheading American journalists; and as a nation we wept at the hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers filled with thousands of ordinary people just going to work on a lovely sunny day.
When speaking of the terrorists we search for words with which to describe them and their deeds--all of our strongest words seem inadequate; they have transgressed the boundaries of what is considered human behavior, yet to call it beastly or inhuman is inaccurate-- beasts kill, but don't commit these horrors; they can't rightly be called inhuman (lacking human qualities) or unhuman (not resembling or having the qualities of human beings) for these are indeed heinous actions consciously chosen by members of the human species, choices arising out of pure evil--they are malhuman acts (the prefix mal- from French and Latin meaning evil, wrong, bad). This so called Islamic state is malhuman and to fight them constitutes not only a 'just war', but also a necessary one to preserve the dignity of mankind.