Friday, September 28, 2007

Utopia, "We care more"

I read a lot; recently I've been reading Reinhold Neibuhr. The Essential Reinhold Neibuhr, Selected Essays and Addresses. I want to understand the utopianism of the progressive, secular left. (They are of course, not 'progressive' but reactionary. Speech codes which specify acceptable and verboten language, hate crime laws which punish thought, and the 'Holy of Holies' dogma of political correctness are all consrictive and coercive. They are an effort to protect feelings by prohibiting certain words and thoughts. For the reactionary left, ideas espress less validity than the proper attitudes and feelings . The root of the left's anger can be found here; when on must defend not ideas but emotions, anger and invective are the ally.)

Here is the member group list page of Community Shares Minnesota. Go to any of these groups' home pages, (I am choosing two I've already read, and two at random,) and they all have in common language such as this:

From Isaiah: As people of faith, we believe that all people are sacred, that all people are meant by God to have access to dignity and power, that any oppression is a sin and should be rooted out systemically. We are called to act powerfully to eradicate that which undermines the fundamental sacredness of every human being.
We see a world of economic and racial injustice. The real abundance of the world is only shared by a few. This injustice is upheld by a myth of scarcity. This myth of scarcity builds a world of fear. Because we are afraid we act in isolation, as individuals. Our sense of community erodes and we become even more afraid and more isolated. This perpetuates the myth of scarcity. The world becomes more unjust.
We can see that the world does not have to be this way. This present reality can be transformed. We are called to play a role in this transformation.

ACT, Advocating Change Together says it is "... a disability rights organization that is:
run by and for people with developmental disabilities and other disabilities.
committed to this premise: It is not the individual who must change to fit society, but society and systems that must change to accommodate all people.

One of the member churches of Isaiah is Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church of Robbsdale. They have a list of eleven 'Core Values. Here is number one:

We, the members of Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church, value:

1. Our identity as a welcoming community. Because God unconditionally welcomes each of us, we seek to do the same to all who come to us.

(God, I believe, will not accomodate our sinfulness. We are expected to repent.)

The Mission of Access Press is: "To inform the disability community about topics of concern to us and to provide accurate information about disability issues to the general public. We exist to be a catalyst for discussion of critical issues facing the community and to bring together the diverse voices of the community to promote equal access for people with disabilities in all areas of life."

(There seems to be no end of special communities of this or that group which these coalitions and organization exist to 'bring together'. Critical issues are always discussed.)

Against all this utopian language I set these paragraphs from Niebuhr's essay Mystery and Meaning:

"The source of the evil in us is almost as mysterious as the divine source and the end of our spiritual life. ' O Lord,' cried the prophet, 'why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?' ...There is a deep mystery here which has been simply resolved in modern culture. It has interpreted man as an essentially virtuous creature who is betrayed into evil by ignorance, or by evil economic, political, or religious institutions. (Smoothing Plane-note how the quoted groups see themselves free from any evil, and indeed the saviours of their particular 'community'. As if the problem all along has been the wrong people running things. Their salvation is to 'empower' ...someone or another. Human nature is not considered whatsoever.) These simple theories of historical evil do not explain how virtuous men of another generation created the evil in these inherited institutions, or how mere ignorance could give the evil in man the positive thrust and demonic energy in which it frequently expresses itself. Modern culture's understanding of the evil in man fails to do justice to the tragic and perplexing apect of the problem. "

Skipping a bit, to this:

" The final mystery about human life concerns its incompleteness and the method of its completion. Here again modern culture has resolved all mystery into simple meaning. It believes that the historical process is such that it guarantees the ultimate fulfillment of all legitimate human desires. It believes that history, as such, is redemptive...Utopia is the simple answer which modern culture offers in various guises to the problem of man's ultimate frustration. History is, according to the most characteristic thought of modern life, a process which gradually closes the hiatus between what man is and what he would be."

"The difficulty with this answer is that there is no evidence that history has any such effect. "

If the utopian progressives had been present when Niebuhr wrote this last sentence, they would have branded him a heretic, and been shouting, "You don't care!". What I think all the Minnesota Shares members, and all the rest of the 'superior caring skills' left share is a blindness to the potential for evil in human nature, a scorn of any need for admitting this potential exists within oneself, and ones own inability to change this nature. This latter means we must admit to a need for redemption of some sort. And to admit this means we absolutely must abandon our pride. Very difficult if one's identity is grounded 'peace, justice, sharing, access, welcoming' etc.

As C.S. Lewis said, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Utopia will never arrive on earth. No matter how well meaning the caring and sharing.

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