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One of the great joys of my life is watching speeches and interviews given by great intellectuals. It was in pursuing this pleasure that I happened upon an episode of the ABC’s panel discussion show, Question and Answers. Coming out of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, the four people on the panel – the traditional conservative, Peter Hitchens; the feminist writer, Germaine Greer; the American writer, Hanna Rosin; and the gay rights activist, Dan Savage – spent an hour discussing tops ranging from western civilisation to modern hook-up culture.
It became quickly apparent that the intellectual stature of the four panellists was not evenly matched. Hanna Rosin and Dan Savage were less rational, less mature, and more ignorant than Peter Hitchens and Germaine Greer. By comparison, Hitchens and Greer gave carefully considered answers to most of the questions asked. Hitchens, in particular, gave responses based on careful consideration, rational thought, fact, and wisdom. (This is not to say one is required to agree with him)
It was the behaviour of the audience that proved the most alarming, however. Like most Questions and Answers audiences, it was comprised mostly of idealistically left-wing youth. Their primary purpose for being there was to have their ideological presuppositions reinforced. With no apparent motivation to listen to the answers to their questions, these youngsters would clap and cheer like trained seals whenever someone makes an ideologically-correct statement.
How has our society become so stupid? Why do we no longer see being wise and knowledgeable as virtues in and of themselves? Part of the answer comes from a culture of self-hate and contempt promulgated by left-wing intellectuals. Accordingly, Christianity is regarded as archaic (unless, of course, it promotes left-wing beliefs), inequality is caused by capitalism, and the problems of women come as the result of the “patriarchy.” Even the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge are rather conveniently blamed on “trauma” emanating from the Vietnam War (rather than the actions of Pol Pot and his band of murderous, communist brutes).
This continuous, unrelenting assault on Western civilisation has led to a general estrangement from Western culture. The common people have been robbed of their inheritance because scholars and intellectuals have reduced their culture into a caricature to be dismantled at will. As a result, they are no longer exposed to the great works of art, architecture, literature, music, philosophy, poetry, sculpture, theology, and theatre that the Western world has produced.
The modern proclivity for ignorance and stupidity comes out of a very special kind of arrogance. It is the kind of arrogance that makes people believe that all those who came before them must be dumber than they are. It does not acknowledge that our modern “enlightenment” is built on the works of those who came before us. Our forebears would be dumbfounded to find a world where, despite having greater access to information than anyone else in history, people have closed their minds to learning.
What all this boils down to is a rejection of wisdom. If you believe that all those who came before you are dumber than yourself you are unlikely to believe they have anything worthwhile to contribute. As such, you are unlikely to believe in wisdom as a universal good. As Neel Burton over at Psychology Today pointed out: “in an age dominated by science and technology, by specialisation and compartmentalisation, it [wisdom] is too loose, too grand, and too mysterious a concept.”
We have made phenomenal advancements in all areas of human knowledge. Sadly, our successes have also made us arrogant and self-righteous. If we are to take full advantage of our potential, we need to reignite our cultural past and find the humility to learn from those who went before us.
Hillary Clinton has released her 2016 election memoir, What Happened. Throughout the five-hundred-and-twelve page book, Clinton manages to blame everyone and everything else but herself for her defeat at the 2016 Presidential election.
Of course, there are the chief left-wing villains: Clinton, like most feminists, blames ‘sexism’ and ‘misogyny’ for her defeat by a “flagrantly sexist candidate.” At one point, Clinton even claims that she cannot give “absolution” to young women who failed to vote in the election.
Next, there’s the alleged collusion between President Trump and the Russians, whom Clinton blames for “weaponising information, negative stories” about her. Not even former President Barack Obama escapes her ire: he committed the grave sin of not addressing the so-called Russia hacking in a national television address.
“I watched how analysts who I have a great deal of respect for, like Nate Silver, burrowed into all the data and said that ‘but for that Comey letter, she would have won’.”
White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has slammed Clinton’s book for being filled with “inaccuracies” and has accused Clinton of failing to accept the blame for her own election defeat. Huckabee commented:
“I think probably the biggest one is any place within the book where she lays the blame for the loss on anyone but herself.”
Huckabee went on to criticise Clinton for accusing President Trump of not being a President for all Americans:
“That type of misunderstanding of who this President is, and frankly a misunderstanding of what he’s been doing, is exactly one of the reasons that Hillary Clinton is not the President and is instead pushing a book with a lot of false narratives and a lot of, I think, false accusations and placing blame on a lot of other people instead of accepting it herself.”
George Neumayr of The Spectator attributes Clinton’s election defeat to her status as a modern incarnation of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth:
“She is a failed Lady Macbeth, but a Lady Macbeth who wants us to feel sorry for her, what with her chardonnay-chugging and alternate nostril breathing after the election. She writes: ‘If you’ve never done alternate nostril breathing, it’s worth a try.… It may sound silly, but it works for me. It wasn’t all yoga and breathing: I also drank my share of chardonnay’.”
If Hillary Clinton is looking for someone to blame she should start by taking a long, hard look at herself. Throughout her campaign, Clinton came across as cold, calculating, and malevolent. She showed signs of narcissism, an astounding incapability of self-reflection, and a proclivity to blame everyone else but herself for her problems. Her attitude was that of arrogance and entitlement, as though the Presidency was her birthright, as though she was guaranteed to win.
This is our weekly article examining an aspect of the Judaeo-Christian faith.
Modern society is based around a culture of self-esteem. Whatever happens to make us feel good in the moment is the highest order of the day. Hence we get the abolition of winners and losers, and the advent of moral relativism. Our highest consideration is to ourselves, with no room for God our other people.
A lot of this affliction comes from post-modernism (the belief there is no determinable reality) which has changed the definitions of ‘arrogance’ and ‘humility’ to mean ‘conviction’ and ‘doubt’, respectively. Through post-modernism our sense of humility has shifted from humility towards ourselves, to doubt of the greater truth. As G.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936) predicted in 1908:
” What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert — himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt — the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.”
The Bible urges us to pursue humility. C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) once observed that humility is “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” It requires us to take our personal thoughts and feelings out of a situation in order to act selflessly for others. When we humble ourselves, God exalts us.
John Chrysostom (c. 349 – 407AD) once observed that “humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue.” They key to true humility is subordinating yourself totally to the command of God. Never be afraid to fall on your knees in the presence of God.