Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
As we begin the New Year, let us look at the society that surrounds us. It seems that we get further and further away from answering the real questions that confront us as human beings.
These questions haven’t changed in six thousand years. Who are we? Where are we going?
After a major sporting event, I am always waiting for the sports interviewer to ask the winning coach, “Tell me, coach, after that game-winning kick: Do you embrace the theory of Heraclitus, that all things are changing and in flux; or of Parmenides, that all things are unchanging and constant?”
For those who have been schooled in a liberal education, you know that you had to sit through those philosophy classes. I know that we all wondered why they considered Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Augustine and Aquinas great thinkers. They didn’t seem to discover anything. Certainly, they didn’t invent anything useful, like the computer. They just asked questions. Their answers always seemed to be based on “reason.” And, it was these reasons that shaped a world.
Over the last hundred years, questioning has continued, but the answers have not always been reasonable. I would offer that we, as a people, have lost our sense of direction because we have lost our sense of “Objective Truth.” When truth becomes something we personally want or desire, or something that fulfills our needs, then much of truth is whatever we want to make it. We can reshape the world, reshape ourselves, and never pay attention to whether something is true.
When I hear individuals trying to claim that animals have the same rights as human beings, there is something wrong with that equation. I loved my family pets, and we always need to take care of our animals. However, animals are not human beings, and although some animals are treated better than some individuals, the dignity given to human beings stems from their being in the world, from their created reality. Once we lose a sense of the priority of human beings over other life forms and define the difference through “reason,” human beings become just another species who exercise power over other species without distinction – just a link in the food chain. The classical philosophers knew of the primacy of human beings and the importance of reason. Perhaps, using reason, we might “think” our way out of many of our current problems, and it would help us to reestablish a direction using reason as guide.
We are in the Christmas season. God became one with man. This is the doctrine of the incarnation. God didn’t choose to become one with the animals. He didn’t even choose to be an angel (an intellectual being), which is certainly above man in the hierarchy of being. His Son shared a life with us different from all other creatures.
For the believer, when the world gets confusing, we remember what Christ told us: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This certainly helps to clarify the craziness, and understand who we are and the direction we need to take. Because Christ died and rose for us, it is certainly important that we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the January 2, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.