This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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There is no purely private good or evil

Alexander the Great allegedly said: “Remember, upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”

With this maxim in mind, we can better understand the Catholic teaching on ‘social sin’, which states that when one person is (morally) victorious, we all share in the victory, and when one falls to sin, we all have a share in the defeat.

We must not oversimplify, of course. Those who participate only secondarily do not share the sin in precisely the same relation or degree as the one directly responsible for it, but they do share it in some relation and to some degree.

Moving from general social observations to the question of morality, we can say that if there is any truth to what we said above about the inescapable communion of persons, then there is no evil act that remains the private possession of the individual who sins. There is not some impenetrable barrier around my soul that encapsulates my sin and ensures that it is mine alone, and the same goes for my neighbor. Should he entertain demons in his heart, there is no security fence that can effectively contain them there, and I will meet them sooner or later.

In countless ways every day, the good and the evil within us are expressed and, in being expressed, are transmitted to others. This occurs regardless of whether I am trying to transmit my evil to others or not, and in spite any conscious intent to the contrary. We cannot contain our evil. This is why it is good to eradicate particular evils that we do know about and to which we are susceptible. When possessed of a vice, we are infectious, not in the sense that I may pass my addiction to others who are not at all prone to addiction, but that my poor moral hygiene will, in some way that I may never understand, affect the hygiene of those around me, especially those closest to me, who are most vulnerable to my influence. Unless the inner victory has been achieved and there is no longer this particular evil in my heart, then it is susceptible to transmission.

Again, this applies to both good and evil. No kind act is limited in its consequences only to the person who is shown the kindness. They are, of course, the most direct recipient of the kindness, but in a multitude of direct and indirect consequences, mankind as a whole is benefited. The same is true of any evil act, even if it takes place when I am alone and if its origin is in my mind, in the form of some horrifying idea that I permit to take root. I will carry it with me, and it will speak of itself.

It is very disturbing for the individualist to be told that they cannot simply ‘be left alone’. For man, there is no ‘alone’. Man is placed in relation to others the moment he is brought into being. To ‘be’ is to ‘be in communication’ with people, even if this is reduced to the emotional and auditory communication between a mother and her unborn child.

We can understand why people might refuse to acknowledge this, because it implies at one and the same time a vulnerability and a great power. It implies the possession of a far-reaching influence that normal people have no interest in wielding, and so they deny that they wield it. But it is not up to them, and by denying that they possess this power, they do untold damage to others and permit others to do damage in return.

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