Sunday, January 10, 2016

Never Far From The Action

"If you believe that an aging, secularized, heretofore-mostly-homogeneous society is likely to peacefully absorb a migration of that size and scale of cultural difference, then you have a bright future as a spokesman for the current German government."

Germany on the Brink
 SundayReview | OP-ED COLUMNIST
Ross Douthat JAN. 9, 2016

One of my duties as the dean of the diplomatic corps here in Bern is to present New Years Greetings on their behalf to the President of the Swiss Confederation. That appointment is coming up on the 13th. Preparing my brief message this last week and discussing it with collaborators brought back memories of years ago when I used to help compose the text for my nuncios who were born deans and that in three different European countries. Back then, as it seems now, life must have been easier or at least the problematic more straightforward than it is now, what with the questions related to migration toward Europe.

Needless to say, such an occasion as New Years Greetings with the diplomatic corps is not one for stepping out on any delicate or controversial matter, but migration is very much on everyone's mind. All of us, first and foremost the migrants who would rather have stayed in their own home countries and no doubt miss their families and friends dearly, wish we could ease the pain and restore order.

Although I would not give him a "blank check" to represent my ideas, Ross Douthat is a favorite columnist and a man whose ideas I respect. This hard hitting piece on Germany "out of control", which I quote above, is well worth a read. It cuts through some people's scruples about the demands of Christian charity and uses some hard math to confront a problem which is more arithmetic than it is algebraic. 

Already before Christmas, I was not answering people's questions on the topic of welcoming migrants. I was responding simply by citing the example of the heroic generosity of both Jordan and Lebanon already now for years in the face of the crisis of displaced persons in the Middle East. While it is not an answer or a solution to the problem, to point to another's heroic virtue, it can inspire the kind of soul-searching which opens people up to welcoming the stranger. One of my collaborators would have wanted me to address the topic directly in my brief talk next Wednesday. My objection was twofold: 1. moralizing statements are not constructive (moralizing is what is left to someone who really does not know better or has no real solution); 2. to speak in the name of the diplomatic corps is to respect very different points of view on a topic and hence to abstain from taking a partisan political stance when not obliged to do so. 

What Douthat does for me in "Germany on the Brink" is to confirm part of my thesis on the present east-west crisis in Europe. Secularization is Western Civilization's greatest liability in facing challenges both at home and abroad, as indeed it must face them (head-in-the-sand is not and never was an option in a world where nothing and no one is far away). Ross rightly points to the inability of an aging European population to contend with so much youth all at once. I would add that the prospect of contributing at all factors out to null, when you exclude objective truth from any equation and write the Creator and Savior out of the script, or seek to distort His image (à la Charlie Hebdo).

In addition to Douthat's suggestions, I would urge men and women of good will to place themselves before the Mercy Seat and flee to the protection of the Mother of God.


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