Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Affection for oneself is what opposes ideology

Affection for oneself, according to Fr. Carrón is "affection for your own humanity" (La Thuile 2008, pg 5). Affection for your own humanity, Carrón continues, "is the opposite of egotism, because affection for yourself or your own humanity, rather than being an avid affirmation of what you think or feel, is instead wonder at something you find in yourself and the you didn't give yourself" (ibid). It is important to be reminded here that freedom is not an assertion of yourself against reality. When we misuse freedom, which is necessary to realize our relationship with the Mystery, affection for oneself becomes egotism.

Having "affection for yourself," Carrón further observes, "attachment to yourself, original, there is the affirmation of the surprise of not being made by yourself, the wonder of this objectivity that is you, this subject, the marvel of this thing called 'I'" (ibid). This is all contra Freud, who accurately expressed original sin as wanting to be our own father, our own originator. This vice (i.e., the opposite of virtue) is all too alive in our late (post) modern milieu, in which we we see everything, even ourselves, as commodities. The result of this reduction of the human person, which comes to its fullest realization in the evils of abortion, euthanasia, and pornography, is that we continually seek to re-invent ourselves.

Virtue, with regard to ourselves, is having the correct affection towards ourselves, towards the mystery of our I. Such affection is the beginning of respect for all human life. Without affection for oneself, without the appropriate sense of wonder at the mystery of our own being, how can we respect human life writ large? If we claim to respect life without affection for ourselves, we can only express it as an ideology and not as a reasonable response to reality. It becomes yet another assertion of ourselves against reality. To quote Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral: "The last temptation is the greatest treason. To do the right thing for the wrong reason." In this line from his play, Eliot goes a great distance toward answering the question, What is ideology? Ideology is the egotism of not only asserting yourself against reality, but making others complicit, leading them to go au rebours. By having affection for ourselves, for our humanity, we become witnesses.

I originally composed this for Cahiers Péguy. I re-posted it because I didn't cringe when I re-read it. I re-read it as the result of an on-going exchange with my dear friend Fran.

1 comment:

  1. I have yet to comment on this, I am just reading it again, praying with these words. They are a gift.



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