Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
January 29, 2001
Rage a result of social breakdown
Emphasis on self-esteem leads to collapse of personal accountability
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
I find myself increasingly enraged by trendy, pseudo-psychological, supposed "syndromes" such as road rage, air rage, office rage, work rage, and any of a number of other ad hoc explanations why grown-up people lapse into two-year-old-style temper tantrums - all too frequently putting others in dangerous or tragic circumstances.
These various "rages" are not a new form of psychological phenomena, but rather a predictable consequence of the pernicious modern cult of "self-esteem."
Due to the ascendancy of liberal humanism, and real Christianity's loss of cultural purchase, there has been a general decline in the concept of personal accountability, and a consequent explosion of acting out irresponsible and anti-social impulses that would have been healthily repressed in times when a more lucid grasp of reality obtained.
We once had common, general agreement on what is right, wrong, tolerable, acceptable, and virtuous; now we don't. The values traditionally held in common in Western culture were derived from the moral teachings of Christianity. Western civilization began with the Christian religion and may die with Christianity's popular decline.
In 1911 Carl Jung wrote: "Today the individual still feels himself restrained by public hypocritical opinion, and therefore, prefers to lead a secret, separate life, but publicly to represent morality. It might be different if men in general all at once found the moral mask too dull, and if they realized how dangerously their (inner) beasts lie in wait for each other, and then truly a frenzy of demoralization might sweep over humanity."
Sweeping it is, into a moral and philosophical vacuum created by the effect of three or four generations now who have "found the moral mask too dull", discarded Christian values, and embraced positivist humanism's false claim that morality is simply a matter of personal taste.
Today 66 per cent of Canadians believe "everything's relative" and 50 per cent say right and wrong are a matter of personal opinion. This is a recipe for social chaos.
Christianity correctly acknowledges the truth of the human condition, which is that we all have an inherent tendency to evil and selfishness due to original sin, and it prescribes ways and means of keeping our inner rottenness under control.
Liberal humanism, on the other hand, contends that human nature is essentially good, and therefore people need to cultivate self-esteem and be given relatively free rein to indulge their desires and passions - with manifest disastrous results.
Self-esteem is a form of pride, which is the quintessence of sin - the rebelliousness against form and order that got Lucifer booted out of heaven, but which humanism promotes and encourages.
In some schools of professional purported thought, anger and rage are routinely excused, and even encouraged, on political grounds, such as anger of the materially underprivileged toward the "rich," or of women towards men because of alleged injustices of "patriarchy."
As American philosopher Richard Weaver observed, this humanist pride "reveals itself impatience, which is an unwillingness to bear the pain of discipline. The physical world is a complex of imposed conditions; when these thwart immediate expression of (the humanist's) will, he becomes angry and asserts that there should be no obstructing of his wishes.
"In effect this becomes a deification of his own will; man is not making himself like a god, but has been putting himself in the place of God."
The great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis maintained "the central vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison; it was through pride that the devil became the devil; pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind. . . .
"It is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began."
The remedy, Lewis contended, is to gain a realistic perspective on where we fit in the greater scheme of things - pumping up one's "self esteem" isn't likely to enhance our prospects of doing that.
"In God," said Lewis, "you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that, and therefore know yourself as nothing in comparison - you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God."
The irony about pride is that despite (or more aptly, because of) its self-centredness, it does not satisfy or make people happy. On the contrary, it makes them frustrated and unhappy and alienated from God and their fellow human beings, and that is why it engenders the "rage" phenomena.
"Rage" is nothing new. It is as old as humanity is far from grace. It's just that in these godless, relativist times, people have lost sight of the antidote.
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