The Meaning and Purpose of Life
An essay on life and its potential from the Roman Catholic point of view.
1. The Present Consensus
The current thinking is that life should be lived according to the accepted parameters. Any failure to live within those boundaries and in compliance with the properly stated standards will in effect be punished with adverse consequences visited upon that individual or individuals. For example children may be taken into foster care on occasion without good reason. An individual may be stigmatised over zealously for inappropriate sexual conduct eg: priestly monks. There is a general fear of offending against the established mores of our society as controlled and defined by the Courts and our superiors. The Criminal Courts reflect the current social attitudes to criminality and are remarkably unforgiving to those guilty of transgressing. Parliament has lead this charge for tougher penalties in the criminal justice system. Behind every accused lies the man himself and his personal history, conscience and eternal soul. Men are not cattle to be rounded up.
2. Fear of the Repercussions
The fear of a criminal sanction or removal of children or disqualification de facto from priestly office serves to undermine confidence in the system among these so called miscreants. Essentially they become pariahs in the Family Courts (Children Act: both Public Law – Care and Private Law between parents). The clerics become outcasts from the mainstream churches. The Criminal process creates the conviction whereby the offender is locked out of rehabilitation semi-permanently. The engendering of this fear does not create an atmosphere conducive to honesty and sincerity in the offender whoever may be (may be a parent in family court) ie: do anything to avoid the worst out of fear by the subject.
Society will make life a misery for certain subjects under the present regime even in family jurisdiction. The fear of going wrong makes the adjudicating body reluctant to step out of the orthodox line when such action is called for. These Judicial and quasi-Judicial bodies are gripped by this tension to not release those within their power from the potential and imposed sanctions. There is distrust between the Judged and those with judicial power over them and that does not work well for justice in any shape.
3. The General Ambience in our Society
Yes political correctness has cost a lot in terms of freedom of expression and conversation. The ambience has thereby been discoloured. There is a general feeling of not wanting to do the wrong thing in the marriage life and the workplace. This flawed ambience is not conductive to proper intercourse and inhibits the life of social conviviality at home and proper conduct at work including sincerity.
4. What is the Purpose of Life?
If there is no purpose there is no meaning to life. I am not advocating everyone should be religious, I am saying life must lead somewhere important or be valueless. If people are treated without feeling they will become unfeeling and unthinking. Being born and living are the passports to starting on genuinely achieved goals in life. To believe in life is to beg the question therefore I posed in the heading of this paragraph.
5. The Media Presently
Clearly the leaders and opinion formers have a special role. We must be prepared to be controversial even adversarial. To slavishly follow the status quo “thinking” will serve no one. Each person and group (minority) may and should affect the debate. In our present society in England there is far too much agreement and complacency. The international media and our own media gullibly put across what we have heard in the past and do not wish to hear again. There is no originality and a lot of denigration of persons without proper interpretation. We all live in the same world. A number of the news items are reported without any respect for those being criticised and damned. One can think of one prominent example in the UK: (Savile) where there will be no trial. Even in the Central Asian news items certain groups are demonised without proper understanding in the Western media. These persons are politically motivated and their cause may be misguided but they should not be despised. Everyone deserves a hearing. Never condemn a man until he has been heard (audi alteram partem). I would say England (and its media) should take the lead as Britain is Head of the Commonwealth and she should encourage better conversations with the Central Asia/Middle East nations and influence the international media to a more conciliatory role.
6. The Religious Aspect
No one is beyond reprieve even those who linger on in our prisons. They have been reprieved by parliament who abolished the Death Penalty. In the case of several they rightly remain in prison. Lord Longford used to visit Myra Hindley, a convicted child murderer. Both are now deceased. You do not have to be friends with your enemies nor love them but we do have to recognise their sin. The injunction is only to forgive those who have sinned against you yourself. The media paints a picture all too brilliant whereby we are mistakenly led to believe these Middle Eastern/Central Asian terrorists have sinned against us living in the UK. No, their crimes are carried out a long way away from the UK and we ourselves are not sinned against by them. Those they sin against are the ones they injure, maim and kill abroad. The media picture puts us in England in the “same boat” as these victims in Central Asia/Middle East. This is confusion in religious terms and no one clarifies the situation. The media generally do not understand the religions of the East and the West very well – both sacred and historic traditions and venerated by vast numbers. On this issue alone the leadership is lacking in the West. For the media to embroil the Western world in unanimous condemnation of a few terrorists in the Middle East does no good and makes the West feel it should “horsewhip” these Islamic terrorists itself. Simply inflammatory by the media I say and irresponsible.
I very much hope there will be no wanton loss of life anywhere in the world. I fundamentally regret any terrorist caused death. We cannot sit back if life means anything. That opportunity demands our absolute concentration. I have given the example of the media and terrorism to make my point about the driving need for originality of thought to open the eyes of our world to the truth in its glory. Life in all its forms beckons us into the unknown. We must not fail to do our duty. The malaise in our society is reflected throughout this essay. From the miscreants, their Judges to the giants of media the same stupor and stagnation leaves us unable to live life to the full. We are living in sleepiness and drowsiness – May the world awake especially England to the challenges in front of us. History is now and England – Eliot.