13 November, 2019
‘How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?’ – Dr Samuel Johnson, 1709-84.
History is not a science but it is a profoundly useful and essential tool for the proper understanding of life. How can we know where we stand now, or form any sort of realistic picture of where we’re heading, unless we know where we came from and how we got to this point?
History clearly shows us that human nature in general changes little, but it also reveals potentialities for individuals to succumb to corruption or increase in virtue, for falling or for rising.
It also exposes fluctuations. Dr Johnson saw much hypocrisy in the North American ‘protest movement’ of his day, but are things any better now? It’s my view, for what it’s worth, that the gulf between theory and practice, between what people think and what they do, is wider than it’s ever been. This leads on to what we might call the Cast the First Stone Syndrome: I’m outraged by the speck in your eye but can’t see the beam in my own!
Instances are everywhere, especially in the affluent west. I recently read a trenchant criticism of Britain’s inertia (or worse) in the face of the Irish Famine. Much of it was fair comment, but we who belong to the richest percentile in the world have no business claiming any moral high ground in such matters, particularly now that communications are so sophisticated: few in England in the 1840s could have understood the agonies of Ireland with the immediacy with which we watch the suffering of the world’s poor on our TV screens, yet do nothing about it. We agonise over the fate of koalas and whales but are apparently unmoved by infanticide. We enjoy our materially-rich lives but shrug our shoulders at the thought that other people and nations will never get to experience anything comparable.
It has just been announced that the High Court will hear Cardinal Pell’s appeal against his conviction for ‘historical sex abuse’. This is the nation’s last chance to redress a profoundly unjust distortion of the common law presumption of innocence.
I am delighted to be able to link you to Prof Simon Haines’s full and authoritative article Ramsay, the universities and Western civilization, which he presented to the Centre in Hobart on 20 September last. It is a masterly document that powerfully addresses the various objections (some rational, some crazy) that have sought to deprive the university sector in this country of the benefits of a munificent trust fund.
VALE PETER IMLACH
I sadly record the passing last week of Peter Imlach, a loyal and steadfast supporter of the Dawson Centre since its foundation in 2013. He was a delightful and sweet-natured Christian man who will be much missed. Our deepest sympathy goes to Verna and all his family.
With best wishes,
Fr Bill Miscamble sent me the following link on religious freedom and the affair of US Attorney General William Barr – https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-remarks-law-school-and-de-nicola-center-ethics
Quote: “Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put chains upon their appetites…. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
Dr Kevin Donnelly, indefatigable champion of traditional western education, recently launched a new website. There is excellent material there, well complemented by Kirralie Smith who campaigns vigorously to ‘promote and celebrate the inherent differences between boys and girls, men and women…we uphold the biological assertion that there are two complementary genders.’ Mercatornet maintains its long tradition of being, in my opinion, one of the very best online ‘newspapers’. Its wide-angled coverage of political, social and religious issues is always impressive.