These decisions can never simply be made for us in advance by others - if that were the case, we would no longer be free. Freedom pre-supposes that in fundamental decisions, every person and every generation is a new beginning. Naturally, new generations can build on the knowledge and experience of those who went before and they can draw upon the moral treasury of the whole of humanity. But they can also reject it, because it can never be self-evident in the same way as material inventions. The moral treasury of humanity is not readily at hand like tools that we use; it is present as an appeal to freedom and a possibility for it. This, however, means that:
a) The right state of human affairs, the moral well-being of the world can never be guaranteeed simply through structures alone, however good they are. Such structures are not only important, but necessary; yet they cannot and must not marginalize human freedom. Even the best structures function only when the community is animated by convictions capable of motivating people to assent freely to the social order. Freedom requires conviction; conviction does not exist on its own, but mu-st always be gained anew by the community.
b) Since man always remains free and since his freedom is always fragile, the kingdom of good will never be definitively established in this world. Anyone who promises the better world that is guaranteed to last for ever is making a false promise; he is overlooking human freedom. Freedom must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Free assent to the good never exists simply by itself. If there were structures which could irrevocably guarantee a determined - good - state of the world, man's freedom would be denied, and hence they would not be good structures at all.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
One More Quote I'm Thinking About...
This is also from Spe Salvi, on the "Moral Treasury of Humanity":