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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Jan 17, 2020
Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.
When my children were young and played games together, my younger daughter sometimes infuriated the others when, after she had lost a game, she would declare: “In my mind, I won.” She wasn’t completely serious, but she certainly frustrated the winners. But wait: We live in a society in which a great many people do the same thing and believe it. This frustrates me, too.
I am referring not to games but to life. We live in an era in which people seem to think that reality is whatever the make up in their own heads, and that they are really winning when they make extraordinarily bad choices. Willfulness—even if it often arises from a herd mentality—is rampant. It seems that we may believe whatever we want (at least as long as it is something fashionable), and become whatever we want, even if it is something that destroys us.
Fair warning: This leads back to the N word: Nature.
Many ascribe the current chaos to the individualism which has arisen over the past three hundred years, and this is certainly a significant factor. It is one of the paradoxes of history that our political emphasis on liberty and equality has tended to sweep away both authority and intermediary institutions between the person and the State, leaving only desire and power in its wake. We are accustomed to seeing ourselves now not as part of families and guilds and churches and communities and commonwealths, but as individual voters who control whatever corporate destiny remains to us through the sheer accumulation of individual votes. This is corrosive of the common good because it reduces everything to individual self-actualization on the one hand and coercive politics on the other. ….