Lesson 63- New World Order and Tender Trap
I spent my last program reviewing some of the key concepts upon which I am building these talks. This was because I had just returned from my summer break, during which reruns of my programs were played, and for your sake and my sake, I wanted to reestablish the foundation upon which I was building. Now I am ready to pick up my theme and continue my discussion of the coming New World Order and how it relates to our understanding of human nature.
The issue, as I stated at the end of my last program is Are we moving towards freedom and self control or slavery and other control? Are we moving towards a world in which individuals, like adults, taking responsibility for their own lives or are we moving towards a world in which, like children, we turn the responsibility for our lives over to a parental figure in the form of a super government? In religious terms, Will we go on to freedom and the Promised Land or will be, like the Hebrews in the desert, want to go back to the fleshpots of Egypt? Or to use another Biblical simile, Will we like Esau sell our birthright for a good meal or will we reject the demands of our flesh and feed instead the needs of our spirit? In other words, will we choose life and integration or death and disintegration, freedom or slavery. The answers to these questions are being formulated now and the outcome depends on whose answer will be adopted by the New World Order.
The problem is that tyranny is quicker in the short term but more dangerous in the long. So the real test that is facing the human race as we approach an international New World Order is whether we are capable of being free.
There was a time not so long ago when just about all the important decisions in life- who we would marry, where we would live, what we would believe, what kind of work we would do was all decided by someone else. In fact, in many areas of the world, such as the center East and the Far East, the average person still is not free to make many of these decisions for himself or herself. In India, Hinduism still has many people locked into lifestyles control either by a caste system or by Karma. Marriages are arranged by parents, decisions are made by horoscopes, ones position in the community is determined by ones caste. In Muslim Pakistan, the role of women is so narrowly defined that many live in slave-like servitude to a father, a brother, or a husband or so restricted by custom and law that life becomes a circular drudgery from which there is no hope of escape.
This is what Eric Fromm was referring to when he spoke about destructive relationships, symbolized by an upright triangle, and a production relationship, symbolized by an inverted triangle. And both of these relationships are connected to the two types of freedom that he identified: freedom from, the permission to be free and freedom to, the ability to be free. The way that we move from a destructive to a productive relationship is by developing our ability to be free which allows us to move from dependency to independence.
In the beginning when we are lacking in ability, it is natural for us to want to be involved in a destructive relationship where we turn responsibility for our lives over to some authority figure who wants to control us. Fromm referred to this as a sado/masochistic relationship because the person on top, like a sadist, obtains order by controlling others and the person on the bottom, like the masochist, obtains order by being controlled. Therefore, a destructive, sado/masochistic relationship is not necessarily wrong or unhealthy. In fact, even after we grow-up and have taken control of our own lives, we often return to a sado-masochistic relationship whenever we enter a new situation where we become uncertain of how to act. Thus, one of the examples that I use with my students is that of graduating and arriving at their new job. The foreman greets them and says, Hey, look kid. This is a simple job. A chimpanzee could do it. Do you see this assembly line? Well, were putting these electronic gizmos together. The guys down the other end of the line each add a part to it. Now when it gets to you, you take the green wire and connect to this post, the red to this other post, and the yellow to this third post. Then the guys working at the other end will each add their contribution to it. Oops! There goes the bell and the assembly line is beginning to move. See you later! As he moves away, and the little gizmos start to move towards our station, there are two impulses that most of us would have. The first one is the impulse to control the assembly by either stopping it until we could figure out what we are suppose to do or, at least, to slow it down. This is the sadistic side of the destructive relationship because we want to restore order by controlling the external environment. The second impulse is to grab somebody walking by who looks experienced and beg him or her to take the responsibility off our hands. This is the masochistic side of the destructive relationship. To use Eric Fromms terms, we will psychologically desire to escape from freedom because having been given the permission to do something, which is freedom from, we lacked the ability to handle it , which is freedom to. Therefore, our freedom is anxiety producing and we will seek to escape from it by turning it over to someone else. Will Durant, the historian confirms this when he says, When freedom destroys order, the need for order will destroy freedom.
This is natural and we all experience it whenever we enter a new and unfamiliar environment that we have not yet figured out. However, this should be only a temporary state because that natural flow of life is from dependency and other control to independency and self control. Therefore, if in my example, the new worker muddles through the first week or so, he will eventually learn and understand the job. What was confusing and challenging in the beginning soon becomes monotonous and boring and, after awhile, he will conclude that this job wouldnt even challenge a chimpanzee. Now he starts to experiment with the way the job is done and invents a better way than the way that he was told. He is so far ahead of the line that now he sits back and has a cigarette waiting for the line to catch up to him.
But even this is not enough because he needs something that is more challenging or else he will go insane. At this point, says Eric Fromm, he is beginning to move from a destructive relationship based on rigid control to a productive relationship based on creativity and freedom. In religious terms, we might say he is moving from law to spirit because life, by its very nature, is about growth, expansion, and development and each developmental step, once it is master, becomes a stepping-stone to the next. Thus, as Jesus, had said, I, Gods Logic and Wisdom, have come that you might have life and have it more fully.
We all have met people who are so tied to routines that the smallest deviation from the established patterns becomes an intolerable threat to their order and security. Twenty years later, they are still performing the job exactly as they were told and have never thought that they might know a better way to do it. When they become foremen, they insist that it be done that way and are not open to any discussion that there might be a better way.
I speak from personal experience because when I first began teaching, I was like the guy on the assembly line. New teachers, like new anythings, are insecure when they enter the classroom for the first time and thus they exhibit the masochistic and sadistic dimensions of the destructive relationship. First, on the masochistic side, they are controlled by the textbook since it alone determines what is learned in the class. They hang on to it for dear life. Second, on the sadistic side, they discourage questions or any deviations from the lesson because they are afraid that they will be drawn into areas in which they are incompetent. Some teachers, like people in other skills and professions, never get beyond this. Twenty years later they are still teaching in a robotic way the same material that they taught when they began. Nothing creative has happened. On the other hand, there are teachers, like myself, who found teaching the book was boring and uninspiring for both me and the students. And so, I began to play with it by adding my own personal touch to the material. Before I knew it, I had created one unit after another until finally I had so many units that I didnt have time for the book. I still covered the material but I did it with my insights and my examples.
And a strange thing happened. First, each unit took on a life of its own and was constantly being revised and expanded until, although it was the same unit, it was growing and changing as new insights and new information became available. Each year there were other creative wrinkles that would strike me and I used to wonder how it was possible for me to have taught this unit before without having seen them. In fact, I used to look forward to each school year because I knew that new revelations would come and they always did. Second, I became emotionally attached to the material much in the way that anybody becomes attached to their creative efforts. Like a mother with a new baby, I wanted everyone to see and appreciate what I had created and I had a burning desire to share with my students the beauty that I was experiencing. It was a feeling akin to the words in the Song of Thanksgiving, which I have quoted on a number of occasions because its words are so central to what I am saying. The words say:
Creation tells a story that began so long ago
Of a love that longed to share its life
In hopes that love would grow
The sun repeats each morning; the story is retold
And just in loves retelling, new chapters yet unfold.
Love thats freely given wants to freely be received
All the love You poured on us can hardly be believed
And all that we can offer You is thanks
Looked at from the point of view of Eric Fromms theory, I had moved from a destructive relationship that was based on compulsion to a productive relationship based on love and creativity. The first one was hard, exhausting work and the second, although often difficult, was not. In fact, every time I ever taught I was energized by the material that I was teaching. It reminds me of a quotation that was on display in my class which said, Its so hard when you have to and so easy when you want to. In religious terms I had moved from law which is compulsion to spirit which is life.
There were times when I was so physically tired that I was dead on my feet. Then someone would ask me a question about the material and my spirit would surge and once the holy creative spirit of life. entered my being I felt, as the scriptures say, like I could run and never grow weary. Suddenly I knew what Jesus meant when He said, Come to Me all you who labor and toil for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
In a previous program I mentioned that the word enthusiasm comes from two Greek words, en theos, and it means God in you. Thus, when the Holy Spirit of God enters our being we are filled with a creative enthusiasm that energizes us to work and struggle to accomplish things that we never thought possible because they have moved from our minds to our hearts. When this happens, we have the sense of having been set free because we no longer operate according to compulsion but rather by free choice.
That is what Vatican II was trying to tell us when it informed us that the Sunday obligation of going to Mass might no longer apply. This was upsetting for many of us because we feared that without the threat of mortal sin many people would stop going to church and we were right. But so were they. Many churches today have dwindling attendance and most of those who do attend have graying hair indicating that they had come up during the time when attendance was mandatory. However, there is a glaring absence of young adults who, once the compulsion had been questioned or weakened, no longer made any effort to attend.
Most of us interpret this as the fault of relaxing the rule but in reality it is a sign of a greater problem. The problem is that for many people the destructive relationship with God and the Church based on rules and compulsion never developed into the productive relationship based on freedom and love. There is an old adage that says, If you love something, set it free. If it doesnt return, then it never was love. Or, as the Song of Thanksgiving says, Love thats freely given wants to freely be received.
Father ODonnell, the Retreat Master at Malvern has a little story that he tells, which, although he claims it is true, I suspect that it is a creative parable that he invented to make a point. He says that when he was a little kid, he had a rich uncle whom he and his brothers and sisters were required to visit every Sunday. So every Sunday his mother would dress them in their best clothes, place them in the car, and drive off to his uncles mansion. When they arrived, they were forced to sit in a big room on uncomfortable chairs and listen to their uncle talk endlessly about boring things that they didnt understand. If they started to lose interest and drift off, their mother would pinch them to keep them awake and she informed them that if their uncle saw them losing interest, he might cut them out of his will. Furthermore, if they should ever stop coming, he had a torture chamber where they would be taken. Father ODonnell said that he hated that uncle and swore that when he grew up he would never visit him again. Obviously this is a parable about compulsory attendance at Mass under the threat of eternal damnation. It doesnt mean that we shouldnt go to Mass. Rather it means that we should develop a different attitude about why we go. It really is a mortal or deadly sin but perhaps for a different reason. We go to Mass because we are a community organized around the Eucharist and like any community our survival depends on our coming together to reiterate our common belief and commitment to each other. If we didnt do this, it would be a deadly and mortal blow to our own belief system and to the community itself. And, if membership in the Body of Christ is essential to our salvation, then we are risking our eternal souls.
Compulsion in any relationships can take you only so far and then it will break down unless it is replaced by free choice. My wife and I and many of my friends attend daily Mass, not because we have to but because at certain points in all of our lives we had a personal encounter with the Lord that led to a personal relationship with Him. And thus we go to sustain and enhance that relationship. And what is true in our relationship with God is true about our relationship with others.
There are parents and children whose only connection is one based on obligation who, if it werent for the genetic connection, would never bother to interact. The only thing that binds the relationship is the customary visits at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Otherwise, they would never meet or talk. And there are parents who, unwilling to accept that the relationship is weak or non-existent, try to maintain it by continuing to dominate their adult childrens lives through guilt and obligation. The unfortunate thing is that this will always be an unsatisfying relationship for both because it lacks the freedom and spontaneity associated with true love.
So let us agree that it is the ultimate goal of all relationships, whether with God, the Church, our parents, our children, or anyone else, is to move from the destructive mode which seeks to control or be controlled by the other, to the productive mode based on freedom, personal choice, and spontaneity. Therefore, not only is this the goal of every human life but it is also the historical goal of Humanity itself. As Christians, we believe that God is using history as a stage to move us towards this ultimate goal where heart connections will replace compulsory connections because, as the scriptures say, at the final end God will shake everything and only those things grounded in love will remain standing. What else would you we expect from a God who is a great respecter of free will?
In the end, we will all get what we love. Nothing more or nothing less. For those who love goodness and justice and righteouness there will be one consequence and for those who love evil, injustice, and sin there will be another. Thus the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic state:
He has sounded forth a trumpet that shall never call retreat.
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat
What this says to all of us is be careful of what you come to love because your eternal destiny will be determined by it.
But what about Humanity? If each individual person is working out his own salvation during his lifetime, is Humanity, as a whole, working out its salvation on the stage of history. I have already indicated that it is and that we are at a critical juncture in this drama because we have reached the level of international unification. When one considers the flow of human history from its foundation to the present moment, we see that it bears a striking resemblance to the movement of an individual life as both are moving from the simple to the complex, from destructive to productive relationships, from unconsciousness to consciousness, from slavery and other control to freedom and self control etc And thus, in a general way, we could say that just as adulthood is the end result of the process that began with our conception, so the international level of organization is the end result of the historical process which began with the family, which then organized into clans, which organized into tribes, which organized into states, which organized into nations, which are now getting ready to organize into an international community.
We should not fear or resist this since it has always been the aim of Christianity to unite the whole world under Christ. The history of the Catholic Church is the story of its efforts to expand and unite all people under one banner. However, if we are at that critical point in history where the last block is about to be set into place the worst thing that could happen is that we should lose our sense of vision for what this New World Order should be. We are not the only ones with an international vision and, as I have mentioned before, we are involved in a Cultural War that will determine whose vision will determine the future. At this moment, the words of Jesus in the Book of Revelation take on an even greater urgency. He says, I wish that you were hot or cold but because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out of My mouth! In other words, the future belongs to those who involve themselves in the struggle and not to those who are apathetic or indifferent.
The major issue is whether we are capable of learning self control and being free or will we, as Plato had predicted, abuse our freedom and bring about the very conditions that leads to our own enslavement?
You might remember my description of Platos Republic in which philosopher kings, who were selected through a state controlled competitive educational system, were given the total responsibility for the well-being of the masses. They were to be what we called benevolent dictators who, like loving parents, controlled the lives of their children for their own good. You might also remember that I had indicated that this was the vision that lay behind the thinking of the people who led the French Revolution of 1789 who wanted to create a secular state based on Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality. They were Secular Humanist who, having rejected Christianity and God, wanted to return to the good old pagan days of ancient Greece and Rome where philosophers like Plato used human reason to understand and correct the human condition. Thus, there battle cry eventually became, There is no God to save Mankind; Mankind must save itself. As a result, this historical period is known as the Enlightenment and groups like the Illuminati organized themselves to overthrow the existing system based on the Judeo/Christian vision and sought to replace it with a new one based on science, technology, and human reason. Even though the French Revolution failed the dream that inspired it did not disappear. Communism and Socialism are modern day examples of this Platonic desire to create a paternalistic government ruled by benevolent dictators who would devote themselves to serving the best interests of the people.
Its a wonderful vision and it works pretty well. In my last program before the summer break, I was describing my contact with two students from Communist nations. The girl was from Communist China and the boy was from the former Soviet Union and both of them exhibited knowledge, maturity, and dedication that far exceeded anything that I could detect in my own students. Both of them found our high school curriculum to be unchallenging and were amazed when American students complained about the difficulty and demands of the curriculum. They both ended up taking college courses on their own. The girl from China told me that upon graduation she was going to remain in our country until she had finished college because our system of education had ruined her so much that she would never be able to qualify for a college or university in China.
Without a doubt, they were more discipline, focused, dedicated, and motivated than most of my students and yet there was something wrong with the system that produced them. Both had grown up in totalitarian states where all aspects of their lives were controlled by others. They knew and appreciated classical music, the ballet, good literature, and wholesome entertainment because that was all that those in charge of their society would allow. In other words, there were no choices. They were, to use Eric Fromms theory, in a destructive relationship symbolized by an upright triangle in which those at the top controlled the lives of those on the bottom. They were good because they didnt have the opportunity to be bad. And, to a certain point, that may be good and necessary since basically that is a description of the interaction that takes place between parents and their children. However, it didnt end there.
Let me give you some examples. The Chinese student that I interview told me that her mother and father did not meet or interact with each other until they were both about to graduate from college. Upon graduation, they married, only to discover that the state had assigned each to jobs that were two thousand miles apart. I said, Well, how did you ever get born with your parents so far apart? She said, It took them two years but they eventually found people with the same type of jobs who, wanting to move to where they were, were willing to trade with them. After a series of trades, they were finally close enough to begin their life together. Thus, the desire and needs of the state took precedence over the desires and needs of the people.
This attitude was expressed by a Chinese teacher to my department head when she visited China. She was asked by them to describe the aims and objectives of American education. After delivering a fifteen minute presentation in which she explained that our objective was to prepare the student to decide what they wanted to do with their lives, she ask them to tell her the goal of Chinese education. A teacher stood up and simply said, To prepare the child to serve the state.
Thus, our system emphasizes the individual and freedom, and their system emphasizes the group and order. Once again we are faced with two extremes and the truth probably lies in the center.
As we now know, China has a one-child policy in which the government forces women to have an abortion if they exceed the limit. Thus we are looking at a society in which the government attempts to micro-manage the lives of its people. It tells them where to live and work, how many children to have, what information they can have, what type of entertainment they can view etc Thus, in the Soviet Union and other Communist nations, rock and roll, heavy metal, Western fashions, pornography, and other decadent Capitalistic practices were banned by the government. This is the left lobes desire for order taken to its extreme.
But in our free society, everyone is allowed to do what he or she wants and the result is a dumbing-down in education and entertainment, a growing pornography industry, a drug culture, sexual promiscuity, and an excessive individualism which places individual desires and whims ahead of the common good. Thus, we have a strange situation where Communist nations, who say they dont believe in God, act like they do, and Capitalist nations, who say that they do, act like they dont. And now that Communism has collapsed in the Soviet Union we are beginning to see the same moral decline taking place there.
Is Plato right? Is democracy the worst form of government because the people are incapable of ruling themselves and is some type of benevolent dictatorship ruled by enlightened wise men the ultimate fate for Humankind? Is the upright triangle the proper symbol for how authority should flow and a destructive relationship the only one that really works? The leaders of both the American and French Revolution thought so and that is why they didnt try to create a democratic republic. They believed that society should be ruled by the good and the wise not by the masses. And whats wrong with that? Why not have the Illuminati, the Communist Party, the educated elite, or some other central authority assume the responsibility for determining what the people should be allowed to do or know? The most obvious answer is because, even if they are right and as good and wise as we would hope they would be, such an arrangement places them in the Kingdom of Light and Understanding while the rest of us, like children, remain in darkness and ignorance. Ill have more to say about this in my next program.
Well, I see that my time is up. Heres Dom!