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The Solution

Racism is a real problem, but it’s part of a much bigger problem.

(Photo: www.chestertonacademy.org)

Right now we need some good news.

Fortunately we have it.

But right now it seems that no one even wants to hear good news. It is a difficult time to think clearly. Passions are high. It’s such a complicated mess. A sickening video of police slowly killing an unarmed black man. A horrible outbreak of violence – widespread and unimaginable – an explosion not only of
racial tension, but of the frustration of being locked down for two months under the threat of an invisible microbe. A nation polarized and spewing vitriol at each other. Civilization falling apart.

It has been surreal to witness these things, especially since the flashpoint was right in my own hometown, just minutes from where I live. In Minnesota, we are much more accustomed to being ignored by the rest of the world. To suddenly have the whole world gaping at us through every news outlet has made it all the more freakish.

Painted on the walls across the city is the name of newly canonized George Floyd. But also terse verse for the cameras consisting mostly of the once unprintable vulgar word that is now used as verb, noun, and adjective. And also everywhere is the phrase, “No peace without justice.” This last one is absolutely true.

But vandalism is not justice. Looting is not justice. Arson is not justice. Vengeance is not justice.

And the armed law enforcement officials and National Guard soldiers who came in to quell the violence did not bring peace. They only stopped the rioting. G.K. Chesterton says, “Peace without love is only a still panic.”

Let’s make signs that say that. Let’s put them everywhere.

Peace without love is only a still panic. Hate will make you a monster. As long as everyone keeps hating and blaming each other, there will be no peace. There will only be fear and eventually more violence, whether it is white against black, black against white, or any group against any other group.

Racism is a real problem, but it’s part of a much bigger problem. Sin.

And until we admit that problem, we will only have more problems. Consider the fact that every day thousands of innocent people have the life violently crushed out of them. But would a video of a late term abortion, hideous as it is, go viral, cause outrage? And why not? Why are the very peaceful pro-life activists the ones who are villainized?

There will be no justice in a nation where abortion is legal and where those who attempt to expose its evil are considered criminals. A nation where people routinely kill babies because they are babies will kill blacks because they are black, and will throw firebombs and break windows because it is instantly gratifying. Justice cannot be founded on sin.​

There will be no justice in a nation where churches are not considered essential. The Church is where you confront your sin, confess your sin, and find peace. No peace without God.

We need God to forgive us, and we need to forgive those who have sinned against us. That will bring peace. Peace without love is only a still panic.

But there is another problem that no one wants to talk about. It is difficult to say it, but unless we recognize it, we will just keep spinning our wheels, and our society will continue to decay. The institution that has done more than anything else to cause the present chaos is the public school system. G.K. Chesterton says that Education is supposed to be simply truth in a state of transmission. It is passing the truth from one generation to the next. But if a school is not teaching the truth it is not teaching anything, and we are witnessing the catastrophic consequences of generations that have not been taught the truth. Neither have they been taught goodness and beauty. That is why they are so unhappy and angry and hopeless.

The state-sponsored, state-imposed schools are factories of fashionable fallacies. Students have been formed by a pervasive materialist philosophy. They have been taught that humanity itself is simply a lucky combination of chemicals, man is just another beast on the spectrum, economics is just a battle for bread, love is just sex, literature is just ranting, civilization is just a prison of oppression built by white Christian males. But Evolution means everything is getting better. Anything that stands in the way of progress and efficiency is bad. The past is the culprit. Old is bad. New is good.

The philosophy of progress, however, has been steadily stumbling for the last two hundred years. It keeps encountering what Chesterton calls a “healthy shock” which is “the whole philosophy of the Fall of Man.”

Our schools don’t teach the truth because they don’t teach the fundamental reality of sin. It is that reality that unravels every political and social philosophy. Sin has only one solution. The Incarnation. The Truth that informs every other truth. But this is the Truth that has been locked out of our compulsory education, and the minds of our children and our citizens have been formed without it. Behold the results.

But I said there is good news. The very night my city was burning, I was hosting an online open house for the Chesterton Schools Network. Hundreds of people had signed up from all around the country (and Canada). The good news is that next fall twelve new Chesterton Academies will be opening, and there will be 30 schools in the network, all stemming back to our humble beginning with 10 students 12 years ago sitting around one table right here in the Twin Cities. The good news is that we heard great excitement and encouragement and hope as the different headmasters talked about the good things that were happening in their schools, stories of tremendous faith and joy and light in the darkness. The good news is that there are more people who want to start a Chesterton Academy in their city.

This growing network is part of a revival in education at the grassroots level that is already starting to restore truth, goodness, and beauty to a world that is starving for it. We have begun rebuilding civilization even as it crumbles around us. ​


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About Dale Ahlquist 41 Articles
Dale Ahlquist is president of the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, creator and host of the EWTN series "G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense," and publisher of Gilbert Magazine. He is the author and editor of several books on Chesterton, including The Complete Thinker: The Marvelous Mind of G.K. Chesterton.

11 Comments

  1. Amen. Everything we do that offends God is a sin. All disordered actions result from sin.
    Just to mention about racial issues though, I saw a photo today of the 4 police officers charged in Mr. Floyd’s death. They appear to be white, Asian & perhaps mixed race.

    • Dale….thank you for your wise words on thzinee recent violence…..my first 2 Chesterton magazines took several reading to take it all in. Now I love them…Patricia C. Cornell…St. Louis, MO

  2. The violence of poverty is a sin. The fact that most people ignore the 140 MILLION Americans in poverty is a sin that Colin Kaepernick asked all of to examine and DO SOMETHING about. Dorothy Day said that our problems stem from this filthy rotten government which people support by the millions. Catholic Justice says we are fulfilled by our work. George Floyd was poor. Cops are assigned to control the impoverished in this hateful, big business, dogeatdog culture. I hope the Chesterton Academies draw attention to the dire need for full employment at JUST wages and profits.

    • Mr. Laney makes some interesting points in his commentary on Mr. Ahlquist’s piece, although they might bear a little correction and clarification. For example, the quote attributed to Dorothy Day was not in reference to “this filthy rotten government,” but to “this filthy rotten system.” There is also the problem that, although this may be Day’s most often quoted statement, she may never actually have said it.

      More to the point, however, Mr. Laney gives the impression that Dorothy Day advocated the wage system and the Keynesian palliative of full employment, i.e., in his call for the Chesterton Academies to “draw attention to the dire need for full employment at JUST wages and profits.”

      Day was certainly in favor of paying people a just wage and of people making a just profit. Her emphasis was not, however, on forcing a condition of dependency on people by maintaining them as “wage slaves,” even if well-paid, especially by the government. She was fond of citing G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc in reference to an economy characterized by widespread ownership of capital, and often quoted Peter Maurin’s aphorism that “property is proper to man.” Labor statesman Walter Reuther also began advocating widespread capital ownership shortly before his death.

      As my friend Geoff Gneuhs, who was chaplain to Dorothy Day and the New York Catholic Worker, noted, Day was strongly opposed to a government-enforced Welfare State, whether social security legislation or a mandatory minimum wage; she regarded such things as “a great defeat for Christianity” (February 1945 issue of the Catholic Worker).

      There is, however, something better than demanding simply a continuation of the current unjust system by advocating more of what got us into this mess in the first place. As Geoff noted in a letter to America magazine to refute the implication that Dorothy Day was a communist (which America refused to publish),

      “I would, however, suggest that there is a Just Third Way, a doable, practical tool to help create a personalist social order. The interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) in Arlington, Virginia, of which I am a founding member, promotes what are called Capital Homesteading Accounts (CHAs) that would be for every child, woman, and man in America, and that could be adapted — and adopted — by every country in the world.

      “Co-founded in 1984 by Dr. Norman Kurland (who was instrumental in the passage through Congress of the initial enabling legislation for Employee Stock Ownership Plans in 1973), CESJ recognizes the sovereignty, freedom, and dignity of the human person, the right to private property, and the free market. It is a strong critic of “rigid capitalism” to use Pope John Paul II’s term.

      “CHAs are inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s Homestead Act in 1862 that offered land to those who would work it with eventual ownership, but extends the concept to all other forms of capital.

      “For Dorothy, Christ was the beginning and the end — not ideology, politics, or materialism.”

      Geoff’s letter can be read here in its entirety:
      https://just3rdway.blogspot.com/2019/08/dorothy-day-catholicism-and-communism_15.html

    • Your comment cites voices out of date, Dorothy Day, or tendentiously wrong, Mr.Kapernick. If one accepts your narrative, though, then clearly the practical solution to the problem is to vote for Donald Trump in November. He is the man who has done the most for Black citizens in this country, far more than all the presidents, GOP and Democrat, over the last 30 years. That is why just today we learn that fully 41% of Blacks approve of his economic policies, an astonishingly high number given historic Democrat voting patterns. Blacks know that what they need is opportunity, not dead-end welfare programs, the failed policies that since the 1960s have destroyed Black families and poisoned Black communities.

  3. What a welcome light this is in this season of discontent, fraud and manipulation. Chesterton was just too big for his times; let his singularly sane outlook and ideas spread over this troubled land.
    I looked at the Chesterton Schools site and, by golly, I found myself wishing I could drop 50 years off my age and attend one.
    Dale Ahlquist, you have accomplished many commendable things with your journal and advocacy, but this enterprise tops them all. May success, laudations and honor crown your work!

  4. Tom Laney :The violence of poverty is a sin. The fact that most people ignore the 140 MILLION Americans in poverty is a sin…”

    **********
    I think it depends on your definition of poverty. I’ve worked with Section 8 Housing & the folks who receive housing vouchers & food stamps. I was a beneficiary of food stamps as a child myself.

    I know there are real cases of desperate poverty in the US. I also know that our modern definition of poverty can be a lifestyle people in less developed nations could only dream of & that if & when they make it to our shores they tend to overcome every obstacle to prosperity.

  5. Thank you, Dale. I only wish the USCCB would speak thusly rather than
    incessantly getting behind “progressive” government solutions to the ills
    that beset our society.
    Again, thank you.
    The success of this schools project goes to the top of my prayer intentions.

  6. Dale, good news that you didn’t mention,that the (KFC) Knights of Columbus sent a letter yesterday after 4 months of Silence to all its members stating that they are going to unite with the Holy Father in prayer for National Unity against racism…. The multibillion-dollar Life Insurance Company that loves to get their picture in the paper when it comes to their social charitable work has finally open up their mouth and has come out of the closet after 4 months of lockdown… Oh I’m so proud to be a Catholic and a non-paying member of the KFC

    • Yeah, the original purpose of KofC and other mutual aid societies was destroyed by the socialist policies of the following initials FDR, and LBJ. The general welfare was always a purview of federal government as per the Constitution, but individual welfare was not…until the time of “deals” came first with FDR and then expanded during light bulb Johnson administration, much like the original purpose of family, community, and personal responsibility were destroyed by them…

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