“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”–C. S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man.)
I’ve written about this brilliant little book before, but one thing that interests me that I have not really touched on is what happened in the aftermath of it.
The system in England when Lewis wrote that books was followed pretty quickly by America, it was probably already in place in the rest of Europe at the time, at least the countries at the forefront of our minds.
Nazism, the great evil of the War, was leading to the abolition of most men, but Lewis was concerned that what they were teaching schoolboys (and girls no doubt) was going to lead to the abolition of all men, in feeling if not in biological form.
Wise men saw where it was going, but where has it taken us now?
We live in the Post-Modern era. It is rightly called that, if we mean by modern Modernism, which Lewis and his predecessor G. K. Chesterton were both very much concerned with. Modernism was not about being modern in a fashionable sense, like it’s usually used now, or referring to technology or medicine. Modernism was the principles, or lack thereof, of thorough rationality. Which Chesterton showed in his book Orthodoxy to really be irrational.
It is basically materialism, but with odd ideals on top of it, that really make no sense whatsoever if you take the idea literally that nothing has any value except in our own emotions.
But as Lewis pointed out, the men who taught this didn’t believe it themselves. They were teaching values in spite of themselves. The problem is, even if they were better than what they taught, it had the same effect on their students as if they hadn’t been.
My parents, and perhaps your parents generation were the prime victims of this teaching’s first effects.
You’re probably familiar with how psychology got very popular in the 60s-90s, and it still is now. It was beginning before then, but at least in America, it really took off once we began pushing religion aside and needed explanations for all the phenomenon’s sin and human nature used to explain.
We’ve come full circle almost in the pat few decades, we’ve come back to realizing that psychology explains nothing. Now we are looking to physics and other such things, we’re looking to sexuality, we’re looking to race, we’re looking to everything except what originally worked for people: Religion.
My dad had behavioral issues as a kid, and born when he was, he was medicated, put in Special Ed and diagnosed with mental illness, he tried rehabilitation. Like many people of his generation, and ours, he also tried drugs.
It’s strange that drugs and psychology both took off at around the same time. (People can bicker about dates, but a few years or even a decade on the grand scale of time is pretty much the same time.) Both were around before then, but they got popularized, jsutfied, studied, and theorized about. They came to be seen as normal.
Clearly they aren’t the same thing, but strange that the very thing that told us that our dependence on substance was a problem coming from deeper issues did nothing to stop us from abusing substances.
Have you noticed that to highlight a problem in society is no to weaken it, but exposing it makes it become uglier, more used, more prolific, draws more people in.
Exposing it just to comment on it, that is, real solutions are different.
But Psychology did not fix anything, it diagnosed things. Medication could not fix those problems, in face many meds make the problems they treat worse. My dad went off his, and does better now that he did while on them. (Of course, you should be careful about getting off medication, the process is difficult and should be walked through with a doctor’s help. He didn’t quit all at once.)
Now, we live in the information, option generation. In the aftermath of all that identifying, we’ve become clueless about what to do.
Relationships have been diagnosed, studied, and tested; the result? We have a really hard time maintaining even eye contact.
Are they directly related things?
I think so.
Exposing how bad we are at relationships did not help us fix them. It made the revelation overwhelming.
Before, people knew some folks were bad at relationships, but those who were were seen as responsible for their own actions. Since no one thought it was genetically inevitable, people could try to improve, or could be ignored by the general public if they chose to remain unpleasant. Not knowing how deep our mental problems supposedly went, we thought we could move on.
Having it blown so completely out of proportion crippled us. Because it made us think we were powerless to do anything about it.
Doubting our ability to control ourselves is now common phrasing for young people. “That’s just the way I am.”
But we took it further.
It was too depressing to live in that, so we began to take these things that were exposed so that we could not hide them anymore, and we began to say they were not bad, not shameful, after all. Instead they were cool, enlightened, they were our identity.
It’s okay to be gay, it’s okay to have mental health issues, it’s okay to have a disability, it’s okay to do what makes you happy.
Not all the above examples are on the same level of crazy of course, but they all stem from the same thing, a desire to take a shame and turn it into a pride.
In some cases that may be okay. But we’ve gone way, way too far past that line.
I do not blame young people all that much for being so stupid, not really.
When I read books written in the 60s-80s, I often find them depressing.
The infamous Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus was one of the most insulting things I ever read on the difference between men and women. A lot of authors who commented on it were condescending to both genders.
Like our differences can be summed up in quirks. Try it and it fails you, you’ll never find any one thing that makes men and women different other than our sexual organs, if you look only at what we do and what we enjoy and what we hate and how we think. The difference is harder to pin down then that, anyone who tires just makes fool of themselves.
When the explanation for differences was so stupid and limiting, it’s in line with human nature to throw it out and go to the opposite extreme, that there are no differences. That’s insane, but it’s less boring. Youth do like exciting things.
Plus, the new and different aspect is attractive to many people.
If you look at any popular attitude held now, you can trace it back to evolving from an attitude the previous couple of generations have. We have mutated it into something different.
We now speak less of the values they valued, and more of vague ideas about self-fulfillment. But it all make sense, that age of reason led to discrediting pleasure and fulfillment as in our own minds, leaving the young people weaponless to defend pleasure on the grounds o fr eason, the natural result we that young people ignored reason, ignored common sense, and ignored restraint.
Now we have this mess.
IF you listen to how we talked now, it’s becomes obvious. People acknowledge that there are reasons to ear healthy, exercise, and focus on happy things; but then make a joke out of doing none of those things. They laughed it off, but behind the humor, there’s a secret guilt, and a secret bewilderment.
Why, if it is so obvious, do we find nothing compelling about reason? And why, if it is so unimportant, do we make a joke out of not following it that hides a note of serious concern.
We are unsettled. We are drifters. The previous generations removed the foundation of our lives, tried to put a weak one in it;s place, but like sand, it crumbled when the floods of real problems struck again. It was never going to hold up.
But, lacking both a solid foundation, and now even a sandy one, we have none. Hence our myriad of problems that center around confusion, uncertainty, and depression. Our general feeling of purposelessness.
We now do not have the logical skills to explain why we feel this way, only words of mental illness, social anxiety, and being addicted to screens.
We laugh at it because we have no idea what to do about it.
This, I present to you, is the aftermath of the abolition of Man, our humanity is not gone completely, thanks to God and the preservation of some values even so, but it is hanging by a thread because our defenses are so weak.
We are glorifying our weaknesses because we have been robbed of our strength and glory.
That is what happened. And it turns out, abolishing man’s strength and glory is very close to abolishing man himself, it is good for us that God redeems our weaknesses, or we would have no hope.
But we do have hope. That’s what this blog is about after all. That even dry bones can live again.
It is now almost the third or fourth anniversary of when I started it with just that premise. And I still think that a return to truth is the only way to preserve hope.
So, with that in mind, until next time–Natasha.
I have now published the first two parts of a series I wrote on Kindle!
It is about superheroes, mystical creatures, and mysteries.
There may be over 20 parts in all, at 0.99 an installment (lowest price possible), if you would like to check it out, here’s a link to find it, the series is called “When It Started.”