Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Government and the moral atmosphere

From the March 2005 issue of Columbia, the K of C's magazine. Carl Anderson cites Vaclav Havel's anthology of speeches, The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in Practice (New York: Fromm International, 1998):

“But all of this is still not the main problem. The worst thing is that we live in a contaminated moral environment. We felt morally ill because we got used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only for ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility and forgiveness lost their depth and dimensions. …

“The previous regime…reduced man to a force of production. … It reduced gifted and talented people to nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning is not clear to anyone.

“When I talk about contaminated moral atmosphere, I am not just talking about the [communist officials]. I am talking about all of us. We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unalterable fact of life, and thus we helped to perpetuate it. … None of us are just its victims: We are all also its co-creators.”

A nifty insight, worth taking note of even in the free world, if we are to remain free. Be warned.

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