Fr. George W. Rutler
Considering how many crucial matters were at stake during the recent election, including the right to life and religious freedom, and the preponderant bias in the media and opinion polls, it did not seem melodramatic to hope for a prudential hand to guide things. There will be much thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day.
Some who trusted pundits were shocked that their perception was an illusion, confirming T.S. Eliot’s words in his “Four Quartets”: “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” The New York Times, fearful of further declines in its dropping influence, apologized for misreading the demographics of our culture, and came as close as it could to admitting that it had been wrong, by confessing that it had not been right. But thousands accustomed to life in a parallel universe and impervious to the rebukes of reason expressed their befuddlement at the results of the presidential election by demonstrating and even rioting when facts shattered their expectations.
Our college campuses have been breeding grounds for self-absorption and corruption of the senses. Professors who had never attained moral maturity themselves, reacted by providing “safe spaces” for students traumatized by reality. In universities across the land, by a sodality of silliness in the academic establishment, these “safe spaces” were supplied with soft cushions, hot chocolate, coloring books, and attendant psychologists. At least one university provided friendly kittens and puppies for weeping students to cuddle. A college chaplaincy invited students to pray, the implication being that their petitions might persuade the Lord to rethink his political leanings.
The average age of a Continental soldier in the American Revolution was one year less than that of a college freshman today. Alexander Hamilton was a fighting lieutenant-general at 21, not to mention Joan of Arc who led an army into battle and saved France when she was about as old as an American college sophomore. In our Civil War, eight Union generals and seven Confederate generals were under the age of 25. The age of most U.S. and RAF fighter pilots in World War II was about that of those on college junior varsity teams. Catholics who hoped in this election for another Lepanto miracle will remember that back in 1571, Don Juan of Austria saved Western civilization as commanding admiral when he was 24. None of these figures, in the various struggles against the world and the flesh and evil, retreated to safe spaces weeping in the arms of grief therapists.
What will the frightened half-adults do when they leave their safe spaces and enter a society where there is no one to offer them hot chocolate? Christ formed his disciples in a more practical way: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We are here today because those disciples did as they were told, and were not shrewd as doves and innocent as snakes.