Friday, September 16, 2011

Green-Mania, Solyndra and the Innocent Victims

What is behind the current fascination with all things “green:” green jobs, green energy, organic “green” foods? As for much that is wrong in today's society, I trace the green cult back to the revival of Rousseauist philosophy in the 1960s. What is Rousseauist philosophy? Jean-Jaques Rousseau was an 18th Century French philosopher whose influence is still greatly seen in current social welfare programs, the education of youth and the criminal justice system. Rousseau's most famous maxim: “Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Innocuous enough? But at the heart of his philosophy is a rejection of “original sin.” You see, Rousseau believed that Man was essentially born inherently good. It is civilization (i.e. society) that has corrupted Man. Nature is the all redeeming force in the world. (I follow Jack London who saw the great beauty in Nature, but also it's ugly and deadly side.) Rousseau heavily influenced those behind the French Revolution. The results became clear. Once the French had thrown off the tyranny of the monarchy, the streets ran red with blood. Without civilization, Man returns to His baser/animal instincts. William Golding's classic novel “The Lord of the Flies” in the penultimate example. To a lesser degree the increasingly annoying reality series “Survivor” proves how in Nature the moral or good does not win, but the ruthless and cunning.
Far from being a negative influence on Man, civilization, specifically Western Civilization has brought us great advances in science, medicine and art. All of which stemmed from Catholicism. I recommend Thomas E. Wood's incredible study: “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.” In the 1960's Rousseauist philosophies once again reared their head in the counter-culture generation. Many of those who would later enter the worlds of politics, social work and education came under the influence of the neo-Reousseau wave. This trend was evident in the embracing of Eastern religious philosophies (even Thomas Merton got caught up,) the rejection of Christian moral values, and the promotion of Socialist and Communist ideologies (the popularity of Mao's “Little Red Book,”) that promised a utopian society free from the constraints of Christianity.
What does all this have to do with the current green mania? Well, I think you can see the contemporary roots in Al Gore's goofy global-warming scare tactics. This idea again makes the Enlightenment mistake of putting Man at the center of the Universe. But it goes a step further and adds Rousseau to the mix: Nature is all good and civilization is evil. Now, the buzz-words: green and organic have become the new sacred. The adherence of some to paper as opposed to plastic verges on the fanatical. And the organic craze has no basis in fact. (There are currently no FDA restrictions on the use of the term “organic.) Some believe that by stripping civilization's influence over our food is somehow healthy. In truth, advances in agriculture have made once arid land fruitful and greatly increased production through the use of insecticides and herbicides. One of the most horrifying results of the new green insanity is the increasing rate of malaria deaths in the emerging world. Malaria was once almost all but eradicated due to the use of insecticides. But the manufacture and distribution of such insecticides has been severely curtailed in the Western World. A bad philosophy: what harm can it cause? Can you hear the children scream. And now we must live with the global results of this failed view: plummeting birth rates in the Western World, rampant and forced abortions, costly and worthless environmental restrictions and the reemergence of deadly diseases in the developing world.
What essentially brought about this article is the recent Solyndra scandal. And if you dig deep enough this same Rousseauist philosophy is at the root. In other words: Man is all good; civilization is evil; Man must return to Nature. Also at the heart of this philosophy comes a certain arrogance. A sort of gnostic knowledge about how the Universe works. And now in the US, we are ruled by one of the most arrogant of all leaders. He, himself emerged from the neo-Rousseauist enclaves of the 60s and 70s. I think President Obama believes that Western Civilization is the cause of the world's ills and that by returning to a more “natural” (i.e. green or organic) state: the Earth can be healed. But like many of his generation, the President is the one that must be healed. He has rejected God and replaced him with a failed ideology of Man's perfectibility by a return to Nature.

*My Master's Thesis at SSU analyzed the philosophies of American author and adventurer Jack London.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Lady of Kibeho: Under the Shadow Of Medjugorje

A remarkable series of Marian apparitions, beginning on November 28, 1981, took place in the small village of Kibeho, Rwanda. The first apparition occurred a little over 5 months after the alleged apparition in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. I believe the geographical location of the two sights partially explains why Medjugorje rose to prominence while Kibeho remained in relative obscurity. Medjugorje is centrally located in Europe and can be easily included as an additional stop on package pilgrimage tours that include the Holy Lady, Rome, Lourdes and Fatima. As for Kibeho, it could not be more off the beaten path. Also, the messages coming out of Medjugorje have been characterized as “comforting.” The language that flowed from Kibeho offered no such peace of mind. Alphonsine Mumureke, the first young woman to see Mary, said that “the world is coming to an end. Jesus' return is very close at hand.” Additionally, one of the other seers said, “...When God calls you, you will not have time to gather anything you may have left behind.” “Travelers!” Mary was further quoted as saying. “Why look back? What have you left behind?" And then this powerful line, in an apparition that had a number of things to say about destruction by flames: “If you don't take refuge in God, where will you go...when fire will spread everywhere?”
The most fascinating of the all the Kibeho messages is this one concerning sexual morality: “They should not use their bodies as an instrument of pleasure. They are using all means to love and be loved and they forget that true love comes from God. Instead of being at the service of God, they are at the service of money. They must make of their body an instrument destined to the glory of God and not an object of pleasure at the service of men. They should pray to Mary to show them the right way to God.” Two years later, in 1983, a new retro-virus was identified by the Pasteur Institute, later to be named HIV. In the 1990s pornography would reach a world wide audience through the Internet and gross an estimated $8-10 billion dollars a year. The sexual freedoms celebrated in the liberalization of the 1960s and 70s came with a high price. In the years following the apparitions, AIDS would ravage much of Africa, genocide took over Rwanda, and one of the seers was murdered. And we now all live with the continuing human costs: the rise of sexual slavery, the phenomena of child-sex tourism in the emerging world and the extraordinary proliferation of serial killers.
In the years after the Apparitions and the Rwandan genocide, the events at Kibeho have become the most strongly approved Marian apparition in years, sanctioned by a pastoral letter that was issued on June 29, 2001 (“Declaration on the Definitive Judgment on the Apparitions of Kibeho”) by Rwandan Bishop Augustine Misago at the Vatican itself (after it passed muster with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the time headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger). On the opposite spectrum, the goings-on at Medjugorje have been re-soundly disapproved by a series of local Bishops in the former Yugoslavia. Also very telling are the paths the different seers have taken. Of the Kibeho seers: Alphonsine is now a cloistered nun in the Ivory Coast; Anathalie still lives in Kibeho, where she works as a sacristan; Marie-Claire (pictured above) was murdered during the genocide. As for the Medjugorje seers: none of the six persisted in a religious vocation. This seems doubly strange because of the frequency and number of the Medjugorje apparitions (over 40,000) as compared to the 18 apparitions at Lourdes and the 16 at Fatima. Both of the later, such as Kibeho, included seers who entered religious life or died under tragic circumstances.
With Kibeho and Medjugorje we are faced with the decision: do we listen to the message we want to hear or the message we need to hear.