“Beauty will save the world.”
– The Idiot, Dostoevsky
Every age faces new challenges, unsurmountable odds, problems that in fact, seem to disfigure humanity and cause the human person to despair. In the uncertainty that shrouds our present condition, remains the permanence of a continued division within the human family, and in America, within the nation. The continued presence of racism, economic injustice, threats to human conscience and religious liberty, the political assumption of the individual into a system that daily, continues to cost his spiritual freedom and demand his allegiance from cradle to the grave to a totalitarian power that recognizes no sphere outside its influence but that in its arrogance, intends to re-fashion the human person and substitute the power of technology for the natural law; today, the world is decided to realize the secular transposition of the Christian anticipation of a Kingdom of Peace, but in reality, it is a worldly kingdom, a unity without reference to God, without homage to Christ. Indeed, the truth of our present condition, is that, man is becoming evermore contaminated by the scales of atheism, and the darkness of nonfaith.
Is it possible, in truth, to save man, that is, to save history, and inaugurate a new age? Perhaps. But the matter to be resolved, is whether human civilization partakes of a vital rhythm, the rhythm of nature, and of whether, its end is artistic, that is, oriented towards the formation of a society that allows for the exercise of the human genius, in all the facets of its life – whether spiritual, moral, social, and material. In the commotion of business, it is possible for man, to reflect, and pause in contemplation on the meaning of his activity and on the reason for his life. It is precisely this Reason, this Logos, that appears veiled by centuries of war, persecution, rebellion, and apostasy. At present, it can be stated that despite its advanced degree of development, human life appears evidently neurotic – that is, for all his technological power and material achievement, man does not seem happy, for, he is lacking, in fact, in wisdom. Developed countries, seem to be characterized by high rates of suicide, as if the spiritual malady of our times, seems to render human life not worth living, that is, miserable.
Our civilization is in a sense, one-sided; for, indeed, it focuses merely on one aspect of life, the temporal one, neglecting in truth, the spiritual and the eternal. In the past, subsisted a certain wisdom: that, in truth, the temporal world was in reality, a reflection of the eternal realm to which it owed reference, allegiance, and homage. It was, indeed, a sacramental vision, which in the Catholic sense, meant, that, the visible creation was dependent on a more permanent invisible and spiritual world. The loss of this belief, in its social dimension, has had the effect of producing a conception of the world, that is atheistic, for it offers little consolation to conceive Creation as the product of chaos and chance, where disorder and randomness reign supreme, and reason, for all its beauty, seems to appear merely as an accident, and not as a power that was willed for its own sake.
It is necessary, for the reclamation of culture and civilization, to instill a more artistic intuition of its life. Only by the consecration of cultural life, to artistic expression, that is, to a consideration that seeks to render human life, contemplative, is it possible to infuse the spiritual life that is sorely needed. Present humanity, in its fascination for technology, ought to listen with attention, to the wisdom of the Ancients; man, needs nature and must respect it in order to attain at an equilibrium with its life. The possibility for a reconciliation with the natural world is present, only a certain religious wisdom is lacking. The artistic life, is one that is eminently open to all that is truly living, to those elements of social life that elevate the human person and allow for the life of the body and the spirituality of the soul.
By the development of a certain aesthetic, an attitude towards life, it is possible to render our cultural life bearable. Humanity, seeks its own unity; and yet, it is oblivious to the necessity of a spiritual vision – human development, for all its aspiration for economic prosperity, is visibly lacking in a spiritual vision that could provide the justification for all its activity, and elevate its concern beyond the temporal condition.
It is not sufficient to consecrate human effort to the reduction of poverty, the education of the masses, or even, political equality; it is necessary to elevate human thought beyond the present concerns, for only such a development is strong enough to resist the totalitarian temptation, which in its false utopia, seeks to reduce the spiritual freedom of the human person and erect an order of life where technology is the sole value of human activity. Spiritual values, too, matter.
In the end, humanity possesses a real choice in its destiny, on its path towards eternity. It can accept the spiritual reality, the life of religion, the rhythm of nature, and open itself to a wider vision of reality, or it can shut its institutions to the existence of God, to the spiritual life, and live only according to material law, which is a law of determinism, where freedom is denied, and reason figures as an accident. Only by rendering cultural life, a sort of artistic activity, is it possible to direct the forces of human progress towards the wisdom that is necessary for social co-existence. But this demands, an openness to spiritual values that in their religious power, are in essence, absolute, for they are universal.