A New Year’s Resolution ~ BENEATH THE SURFACE with PAUL MURANO
By: Paul Murano – January, 2017
If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution I have a suggestion. Resolve to contemplate more. Busyness of life and of mind may be the biggest obstacle to inner peace. The great Aristotle once said contemplation was the highest form of happiness. It satisfies the highest part of human nature and is the way to acquire wisdom.
An absence of contemplation in life results in falling prey the mentality of the culture. G.K. Chesterton once remarked that there is nothing more degrading than the slavery of being a child of one’s age (or culture). This is true since we have the innate ability to rise above time and place to contemplate universal truths. Our unique powers of intellect and will enable us to judge trends, movements, and even cultures. Sadly, people utilize what makes them uniquely human, their reason, much too infrequently.
Everyone with a sense of recent American history knows mainstream culture has radically shifted since the 1960’s. In many ways this was a positive thing. America was recovering from a traumatic post-war mentality and began a period of renewal with respect to human rights, creativity, and prosperity. Unjust wars were protested, civil rights were demanded, and rigid stereotypes were loosened. Technology also advanced, challenging traditional modes of living. Being a Democrat made sense since it was the party that championed the rights of those with no voice and challenged social conventions that were no longer needed.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the proverbial baby was thrown out with the bath water. A culture of hope quickly devolved into a culture of death. Why? Let us go beneath the surface.
Amidst the fight for human rights we forgot to ask what they are and from whence they come. We lost touch with human nature as our base and demanded that acts be judged by a shallow calculation of perceived or immediate consequences. The ultimate strategy became one which equated feelings with identity. Disordered desires became ‘who’ we are rather than ‘what’ we feel, and anyone who challenged this was met by labels ending in ‘phobe’ or ‘ist’.
Somewhere in the late 1970’s, the movement to free people from self-imposed limitations and unjust discrimination became a movement to free people from their humanity. The Democratic Party quickly became the party in which feminists rejected femininity, human rights advocates rejected human nature, tolerance advocates became extremely intolerant of speech and thought, and defenders of the little guy supported the mass slaughter of the ‘littlest guys’, the unborn.
A well formed conscience knows that unjust discrimination is a moral evil, but it also knows just discrimination is a moral good. It knows transgressing another’s personal bodily integrity without permission is a moral evil, but it also knows transgressing another’s personal bodily integrity with permission is a moral evil. It knows the abolition of slavery, the allowance of interracial marriage, and the opportunity to develop personal gifts and talents are all human goods we have a right to pursue. Yet, it also knows unnatural acts such as lusting after pornography, premarital sex and prenatal homicide (i.e. fornication and abortion), and homosexual acts are violations of human nature, intrinsically disordered and objectively abuse, regardless of their current popularity.
The current confusion leads people to equate goods that fulfill natural inclinations with perversions that indulge disordered desires. Two basic examples include behaviors relating to continuance of life: sex and eating, which in truth are transformed into acts of love only when their natural ends are not contradicted. We hear people equate interracial marriage with “same-sex marriage”. The natural ends of marriage are sexual union and procreation; it is clear that male and female of different races can achieve both objective ends.
People of the same sex, however, cannot unite sexually nor procreate as a result of such union. The former is a marital good, the latter a perversion of human nature. In regard to food, the unbiased mind is able to see that embarking on the natural act of eating for its pleasure only then to vomit, thwarting its natural completion, is an intrinsically disordered act. It is also clear that contraception is disordered in the same way as it relates to sex, seeking pleasure while intentionally thwarting its natural end.
Reason clearly understands basic truths of human nature once cultural and personal bias are rejected. Without contemplation the layers of cultural conditioning with their irrational presuppositions remain unchallenged.
Since radical individualism has permeated the modern world with its accompanying moral relativism, it is challenging to overcome our blindness to the solidarity of all people via a common human nature with common objective ends. Meaning and purpose are understood not through the media or academia, but through simple contemplation – the freeing of the mind and heart to the attainment of their natural ends –truth and goodness. In contemplation we leave behind all bias and selfish deformation from our upbringing.
Wisdom also sees that violating human nature has consequences, even when we don’t recognize them. One is self-hatred. This often triggers a psychological defense mechanism leading to bitterness toward anyone who may challenge the lie one has chosen to live. Without humble recognition of a higher power of infinite mercy who is eager to offer healing, forgiveness and hope, the path of cynicism and bitterness continues indefinitely.
The new Trump administration offers change in the federal government, but nothing will really change without a change in people’s thinking. For that to happen, coincidentally, there needs to be thinking. This means avoiding the ubiquitous ‘noise’ of the world that disables the mind from rising above cultural presumptions to contemplate objective and eternal truths.
Let us begin 2017 with a new year’s resolution to contemplate more: to open our hearts and minds to truth wherever it may lead and be open to whatever it may bring. Despite sacrifices of popularity and immediate gratification, this is only way to every person’s true desire: happiness.