There are those who think that if we put our economy back on track, everything will be all right. Material prosperity is their sole solution. They speak of happiness as if it can be expressed in terms of GDP, government statistics and employment benefits.
We certainly do need material prosperity but such a vision is really only a half-solution. This purely materialistic model takes care of the body but not the soul. It neglects the most important part of life.
This vision favors a bland secular society officially stripped of its spiritual elements. To use the words of Irving Kristol, it is a society with “no high nobility of purpose, no selfless devotion to transcendental ends, no awe-inspiring heroism.”
Such a stifling perspective has brought a certain sadness over the land. Even though we maximize our every material comfort and minimize every physical suffering, this materialist model will not satisfy us. That is why so many of us put on a show with our outward appearances, Facebook pages, and even great material wealth. In the depths of our souls, we are frustrated and sad; we want something more – we want the other half of the solution.
This “other half” becomes all the more urgent by the fact that our materialistic world is itself in crisis and even material comfort is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.
What would this half of the solution consist of? It would involve going beyond our worn-out materialistic models. So many of us are tired of fake, cheap and inauthentic things that have no depth or organic connection with our lives. We desire, in their stead, things of excellence and quality that speak to us of the good, true and beautiful – and ultimately of God Himself.
The “other half” of the solution involves going beyond the media hype, sound bytes and the shallowness of thought that our Internet world has brought us. We are made for reflection and profound thought that allow us to probe and savor the meaning of life.
The “other half” would especially address our relationships. So many of us are tired of the superficial links where each uses the other to get ahead. Too long we have endured the stress of what Thomas Hobbes called the “war of every man against every man” where each looks at the other as a brutal competitor.
What is needed now are meaningful ties to family, natural leaders, and community. How much better things would be if we could experience the happiness of truly authentic relationships that a million Facebook friends cannot supply.
The other half of the solution leads to a desire to connect with something – a place, an extended family, a community or a tradition. It awakens in us the joy and consolation of being part of something that is greater than ourselves – God, family, country. From this, there naturally flows a desire to sacrifice, to serve a higher ideal and to fight for a higher cause. And in these things we would find happiness.
We do not have to invent this order since it has long existed. It is that order which we call an organic Christian society which is based on the fundamentals of family, community and the Faith. This order always emerges since it comes from the very nature of man himself; it is valid for all times and all peoples. It is firmly based on natural law. And although it applies to everyone, the Church is its best and most secure guardian.
Not only did this order exist but it is possible once again. This organic Christian society is described in my book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.
As materialistic models fail, what we need today is an order that invites us to reconnect with that “noble purpose,” that “selfless devotion” and “awe-inspiring heroism” from which we have become separated. It is time to return to the “other half” of the solution.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author. His book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go will be published February 19.