Men Who Refuse to Rule Themselves

Some days I find the state of our culture funny; other days ridiculous and often outrageous. But usually, I find it to be all three.

Let’s begin with the funny –

An English rugby club held a “virtual bonfire” for Guy Fawkes as it could not afford to meet the numerous health and safety requirements imposed by the local council. The North Devon club showed footage of a bonfire on a large video screen hung between the goal posts.

The video image, combined with heaters positioned at the base of the posts was, according to the club’s president, designed to give “a real sense of a fire”.

One imagines the next step will be to tell players to stay home Saturdays and play rugby on X-Box. The video game, combined with mud splattered around the base of the screen, could be designed to give “a real sense of actually playing rugby”.

Then there is the ridiculous –

A New Zealand Health Ministry Nutrition Monitoring Report (if that is not an Orwellian title then I have never heard one) threatened to hold employers responsible for what their employees ate. The report said an employer’s responsibility for health and safety of workers “could easily be interpreted as covering the food and nutrition environment” including such things as high-fat food in vending machines. These days your employer is expected to double as your mother.

And finally, sadly, the outrageous –

Seven Canadian children, aged 8-11, pushed a disabled boy into a wooden shed, locked the door and set it on fire.

The boy, who had spina-bifida, was saved only when a man, hearing screams, left his apartment to investigate. He pulled the boy from the shed just as firefighters arrived.

The kids who locked the boy in the shed and set it ablaze were referred to a government-run “Fire Stop” program to learn about fire safety. And so the matter of arson was addressed, but what of attempted murder?

A lecturer in psychology at the local university told media the children should not face any punishment because: “As far as we know from child development literature, this whole idea of future consequences is something that … probably is not fully developed until well into late adolescence.”

I’m inclined to doubt that the “future consequences” of locking a disabled boy in a shed and setting it alight had not occurred to the 11-year-old. But I am prepared to concede that perhaps late development in the academic’s brain had made it impossible for him to appreciate the future consequences of punishing attempted murder with a fire safety program.

The virtual bon-fire is funny. The employer’s responsibility to police his staff’s lunch is ridiculous. The kids being counseled about fire safety after making fun of a disabled boy and then attempting to set him alight is outrageous.

All three incidents – from the funny to the outrageous – are symptomatic of a society that no longer holds people responsible for their actions.

If there is no God then there can be no absolutes. But without clear, objective moral laws there can be no free moral agents. Instead, we are merely responding to chemical impulses in the brain. We are machines being played by our genetics as a string manipulates a marionette. We are not responsible for the problems that befall us. We are, in fact, powerless.

And so, if in a drunken moment of madness I fall into a bonfire, I will sue the Rugby Club for not protecting me from myself. And if, after years of eating fatty foods, I become fat, I will sue my employer for failing to protect me from my own appetite. And if our children attempt to incinerate a disabled child we will complain that they are victims of ignorance, all the while ignoring the real victim.

Secular humanism promised to free us from the outdated concepts of right and of wrong so that we could truly be ourselves. But the opposite has happened. When we could sin, we could take responsibility. But now we cannot sin, for there are no absolutes, and so we are never absolutely responsible. We have been reduced to the level of corn that grows or wilts depending on the rain or sunshine. It’s not us but our environment, created by others, that is to blame for all of our woes.

From here it is only a small step to conclude that if we are entirely at the mercy of our environment then we had better have someone create a safe environment for us. Government departments, filled with bureaucrats anxious to create more legislation, have been only too happy to oblige.

And so a people who refuse to rule themselves are increasingly ruled by others.