“Too much liberty corrupts us all,” wrote the Roman poet Terence. These words have great meaning in an era in which, in the name of liberty, we have decided to be morally “unbound” – feeling that moral absolutes and the virtue of faith have no place in a liberalized world. This attitude is the greatest problem facing our nation today.

odern society is dominated by the “enlightened” belief that there are no natural limitations which reason cannot overcome: We can achieve a perfect order through our own devices, without God, forgetting that we are mortal, frail and fallible beings that sin and pursue our own interests above all. We have placed all of our “faith” in the political system, in the liberal vision of progress; we assume that the institutions of the state will bring about a perfect order.

We ignore the reality, however, that the state is itself a transitory construction of humankind. Lost is the meaning of true faith that looks not toward worldly achievements that fade into the obscurity of time, but toward transcendent ends beyond the temporal universe.

This is why I like studying St. Augustine and his political realism – he doesn’t hesitate to point out that the world will face greater evil and sin as it approaches the end of time. This stands in stark contrast to the liberal vision of progress in which humanity will get closer to a perfect world or Immanuel Kant’s perpetual peace.

It is not that we shouldn’t pursue perfection in this world; we should pursue it with the understanding that perfection cannot be realized in time, on Earth, in our mortal existence. We cannot realize it alone, for perfection comes only from God. In seeking perfection and continuing the work of creation, we should turn toward transcendent aspirations rather than solely to the success of the earthly states in which we live.

For me, America was meant to embody this latter perspective, to provide a foundation for people to pursue faith and pursue a higher purpose. As every powerful state does, however, the United States has fallen into the illusory belief that its own ends (as a state) are more important than the ultimate end of human existence. In this view, the state trumps faith and we have liberty without any moral compass or boundary.

What is the limit, then, against abortion, sexual liberation, pornography (protected by a right of expression) and rationalization of criminal behavior? In dismissing the reality of our limits and the importance of faith, morals become mutable. They can change to fit the momentary preferences and desires of the populace. The good of society becomes subject to John Stuart Mill’s continual deliberation, with no limits to the conceptual horizon. The mind endlessly re-envisions the world, futilely searching for an elusive ideal.

There has been great dismay in our world lately, with the shocks in the market system and the inability to provide a comprehensive remedy with the powers of reason. When we consider that we face a recession, an energy crisis and likely a future budgetary crisis, perhaps we realize that we are blind to a more pernicious malady that underlies it all.

Terence Schroeder is a senior in the College.

To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact opinionthehoya.com. Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.