By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


RomeImage by ryarwood via Flickr
Reading a book on the Roman historians Livy, Tacitus, and Sallust reminds me of the theme that will not go away: moral confusion, usually spawned by affluence, leads to national decline. The concern, when this theme arises, is usually with the national decline--which is, of course, understandable because a national decline will obviously affect each of us, sooner or later. Yet, what should also be of immediate concern is the high, often unstated and ignored personal cost of the moral decline.

When there is no moral framework, then people just get lost. The people getting lost are young, they are middle-aged, and they are even the elderly. The middle-aged and elderly of today are, by and large, not the products of the Waltons.  The baby boomers are in their sixties. 

What I mean by people getting "lost" is that they waste the gift and gifts of life. Some may even appear to have gained the world but have lost their souls in the process or lost their souls even before the process began in earnest. You can't catalogue the high personal cost of being lost based on external appearances: the successful businessman or lawyer or doctor or politician or professor may be lost, while the socially ne're do well may very well have found the way to live a rich and authentic life now. Yes, the last will be first; and the first will be last--and you can see this biblical reversal of fortune even now, you don't have to wait for a future judgment to see this phenomenon of moral reversal where the conventionally successful are the real losers in life.

The meaning of life cannot lie in our petty, ego-driven ambitions, however socially approved by our clique or subculture. The meaning of life lies in agape, in loving and in doing so by putting the ego in the backseat, not in the driver's seat. When the ego is in the driver's seat, even if the person driving is socially and economically successful or even if the person is religiously pious and devout by all external indicators, the car is still lost. And being lost is literally being out of touch with reality because you do not have an accurate map or lack any map at all. And I wager that some or even many of those lost already sense it inside, but often can't really identify the cause.
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