"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Are we cowards or men?

Reaction in the Western media to latest Muslim paroxysm of rage—a collective tantrum provoked by a wonderful lecture of the Pope's that I shall analyze in my next post—has got me asking myself a question that ought to trouble thoughtful people: do men any longer outnumber cowards in the West?

It is by my own experience that I know the difference between the two. There have been times in my life when I behaved in manly fashion, and times when I behaved like a coward. The biggest failures in my life have been caused by my own cowardice, and I'm still not sure whether I'll die a coward or a man. While I'm doing my best to meet the challenges of my life, and they are not trivial, I cannot take for granted that I won't flunk the next big test out of cowardice. (I'm sure it won't be about principle, of course; I'm too pig-headed for that to be a test worth giving me. My tests have all had to do with loving those hard to love, starting with myself; and I'm sure my next one will too.) But whatever the occasion of the test will be, I've been around too long to presume that much on the grace of God, let alone myself. That is why I don't at all like what I'm seeing in the so-called free world's reaction to Muslim bullying.

Consider the contents of a must-read article from the online magazine The Brussels Journal: The Church – Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution? Its sorry account of Western dhimmitude is all the more depressing given how the forces in our society that should be stiffening our spiritual backbone against jihad are those most given to weakening it: the churches. Were it not for my fear of playing armchair psychoanalyst, I'd say they have a collective death wish. The spiritual torpor and ingrained, cultural self-hatred so evident in so many of our clergy seems to me to be causing a desire to surrender to an enemy with far greater spiritual vigor. That is cowardice. I can understand that in agnostics and hedonists, but not in men of God. Yet there it is—the only explanation I can find for the fact that we are apparently expected to walk on eggshells around and about Muslims, so as not to provoke "understandable" reactions that wouldn't be tolerated for a New York minute from others under far greater provocation.

Don't believe me? Well, living where I do and reading what I read, I can hardly go a day without seeing or hearing my religion insulted. But if I burned a car in response, I'd do hard time; if I called for the death of the village atheist, I'd have a restraining order slapped on me; if I and my Catholic friends demonstrated with signs like the ones the Muslims have been carrying lately, we'd be dismissed and marginalized as kooks—if we were lucky. I can understand Muslims upholding such a double standard; but from Westerners it is absolutely intolerable, all the more because it's upheld in the name of "tolerance." If one cannot see what's intellectually wrong with moral relativism, just behold the cowardice it causes and encourages. Nobody likes the sight of cowardice, including those guilty of it.

Perhaps that's why they're blind to it. If 9/11 wasn't enough to remove their blinders, I shudder to think what would be.
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