Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The one and the other party of the creeping civil war

Democracy was newly born in the West a couple of centuries ago, from the understanding of the equal dignity of each person brought about by Christianity. But the freedom it grants to everybody to express and promote his way of thinking and living, allowed an anti-Christian understanding of the equality of all men largely to affirm itself as the true basis of democracy.

So democracy was turned into a creeping civil war, that, I fear, will endanger its survival.

In the world of ideas, thrown there to conquer consensus with the electoral body, the war is an open one. Both parties – let's call them, for what is worth, "liberal" and "conservative" – accuse the other of being the real threat to democracy. It doesn't matter how much we might hate being partisan, we are forced to take sides. The only thing we can do, not to be simply fan of one or the other side, is to try to understand the point of contention.

Of course I already know that only one is helpful in this regard: the one that states the other's point of view correctly.

They diverge, I'd say, in the understanding of justice. And I am not making offence to the party I am against, but just relate what they themselves say, if I maintain that for them justice coincides with equality.

The trouble is that people are different: men and women, children and grown ups of all ages, look and size, not to speak of social origin and tradition. And all this cannot be merely denied and considered indifferent, without risking of being unjust. Everybody expects in fact to be treated according to his worth. Classical ethics and politics offers a sound conceptualization of what makes for just intercourse among people, by questioning what makes the real worth of people, to specify the meaning of its definition of justice, still well summarized as "giving to everybody his due". To this Christianity added that his due also includes recognition of his dignity as human being made "in the image and similitude of God", with all that this requires.

Take away the classical tradition of ethics and politics kept up and enriched by Christianity, and equality becomes enforced uniformity.

Unfortunately things are not black and white. So it happens that even the Church, that best represents and defends the side on which I stand, is affected by the confusion concerning equality coming from the other side. And this becomes occasion of scandal, that makes her enemies hopefully to decry her in a moral wreckage.

Or is it their own wreckage they show?


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