This remembrance day as the last haunting notes of the bugle drift away into silence, we once more pause to pay our respect and, with our memories give honour, to those who have died in service of their country. Words like heroic, bravery, duty and service are used to describe our fallen and bring their memories forward so that today we all might learn from their sacrifice. As we remember the stories and honour the lives of our service personnel, we also pay heed to the causes that were deemed worthy of the destruction of so many lives.
Freedom is often quoted as the goal and war, that most ancient of human endeavours, becomes the necessity by which we rend this goal from the grips of tyranny. With the remembrance of our fallen, we bring forward the eternal hope that this conflict should be the last. The price that human history has paid for the concept of freedom is staggering and yet many of us would be hard pressed to give it a tangible definition. So it is with tyranny, we are able to quickly bring to mind many examples of tyranny, yet a solid definition is often not so easy. One of the many reasons for this is that tyranny, like freedom, exists on many different levels. The insidiousness of tyranny is reflected in the fact that it must masquerade in the guise of freedom and cloak itself in the rhetoric of tolerance in order gain a foothold.
Tyranny, and the struggle against it has existed throughout history and will continue to be a driving element of the human experience until the end of the age. The physical manifestations of tyranny are never isolated unto themselves but point to a deeper root cause. There must be an ideology of tyranny developed and propagated before the physical enactment of tyranny can begin. Our society has suffered from the infiltration of such an ideology for over 200 years, the seeds having been sown in what history chooses to euphemistically call “the enlightenment.” It has permeated our societal consciousness, been allowed to taint the human structures of the Church and undermine the understanding of the Faith, all the while promising a flawed version of freedom and preaching tolerance.
Pope Emeritus Benedict in his last homily as Cardinal Ratzinger spoke about this ideology, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” Pope Francis reiterated this during a speech to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps, saying “But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples.” Examples of this tyranny in action are available in abundance on the nightly news. We have been lulled into such an overwhelming sense of self importance that as a society we feel that the definition of moral truth is up to a panel of judges. We allow the definition of what is a good to be determined by the agenda of the nosiest self interest lobby group. We clamour for the Church to “get with the times” and “modernize” the faith based on what we feel is popular.
When we see the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom and by extension the head of the commonwealth say that upon ascension to the throne he would rather be known as the “defender of faiths” instead of the historical title granted by the Church of “Defender of the Faith,” this is relativism is action. When the rallying cry, ”my body, my choice” is legitimatized as a good and proper cause to end life, this is relativism in action. When the individual considers truth to be a matter of opinion and the opinion poll becomes the ultimate guide, this is relativism in action. When faith is legislated to a be nothing more then an antiquated opinion that must be set aside in order to be a public employee, this is relativism in action. When individual Christians consider themselves to be the final arbiter in matters of faith and morals, this is relativism in action. When truth is little more then an inconvenience to be dismissed at the next court hearing or legislated away by popular vote then relativism has won the day.
Make no mistake, there will always be a time to fight because everyone of us is called to serve in defense of freedom, truth and justice. On this day of remembrance, let us all pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by those on one of the front lines of this defense. Let us also take to heart the cost of our hard won freedom which is all to often taken for granted. This freedom has been entrusted to us by the selfless service and dedication to duty of our men and women in uniform. To honour them is to honour our responsibility to protect this freedom in our hearts and our minds. Tyranny must be called out in all it’s forms, no matter the colours of it’s disguise or how tolerant sounding it’s rhetoric. There will always be a time to fight, for tyranny does not rest nor does it tolerate dissent. So too there will always be a time to remember those who have bought for us the freedom to choose our own path. Choose wisely, for that privilege was acquired at great cost. Honour life, for this was the price so many gave. Uphold Truth, for this was the goal. Lest we forget.