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The Self-Actualization Culture

We’re given one chance, one life, just a blip in history to make an impact before… The secular liberal culture won’t say what, but the usual choices are the abysmal void or an obscure, peaceful place formerly called Heaven. The preeminent emphasis is thus on achieving self-fulfillment in this life. Its buzz words flit about us in the media: follow your passions and be you. Like sirens they call us faintly to ever elusive self-actualization as enumerated in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, modern man’s version of Buddha’s stages of enlightenment to reach nirvana. But the core belief of the secular culture is relativism: that there is no one path, one truth, or one reality to reach fulfillment. The mantra is literally Truth is my name.

Are you by nature a submissive, obedient person, or does a contrarian streak run in you? The feminist, the furry, the transsexual, the teenager, the toddler, the everyday normie, and the Saint would identify themselves as contrarians. We naturally prefer our own way, which is often laced with selfishness. Christianity says our selfishness is due to the gift of free-will in the Fall where we’ve become prey to disobedient self-serving behavior. Darwin ascribes man’s behavior as selfish due to the instinct of self-preservation (including altruism). Many world religions and indeed moral law coded into society recognize the fatal flaw of selfishness embedded into the human soul. It is an embarrassingly illogical idea for secular relativists to advocate for individuals to determine their own truth and path. We are naturally prone to self-worship, but we’re not born gods who understand truth intuitively.

If we want objective truth, which religious revelation alone can illuminate, it is imperative that we understand human nature’s inclinations. Above all we desire to follow our will and pick Eden’s forbidden fruit, enabling us to choose what’s right and wrong. Relativism heartily condones that pernicious root of pride in our soul to undermine God. With this understanding, we see relativism is perhaps the greatest enemy of all religions.

Relativism is the height of pride as it declares God null. It is to believe we can hold the universe within our hands, having the full capacity to understand the cosmos. Whereas religion is the novel idea that truth must be revealed to us by a greater source: God. Undoubtedly man has been experiencing a spiritual crisis in the past few decades by attempting to discover his own God. With no outside standard for the good life, meaning is obscure and man meanders unsure of himself. Self-determined revelation is difficult as it’s naturally perverse to decipher universal meaning on one’s own. Lacking accreditation, man reaches the height of folly. Most men are not strong enough to construct a temple to themselves or to follow their weak desires (unless they're born into great privilege like George Soros). Instead of making up our own truth, the wider society accepts a very small god in Moral Therapeutic Deism, which is simply a comfortable, watered-down Christianity that demands nothing but achieving one’s happiness. With a weak, distant God, many prop up their self-worth with the aid of antidepressants, cognitive behavior therapy, and perhaps now philosophical therapy, just keeping their heads above water. Psychology has replaced religion.

Relativism is an elementary ideology our secular society is saturated with, and while it’s a completely illogical belief, it only exists because of the relative security of the Western world. This obsession to dictate one’s truth began with the advent of the therapeutic society in the turbulent 60s when people were bent on navel gazing and became hyper-sensitive to ‘feeling good.’ The greatest generation, and every generation before modern technology and medicine, did not have the privilege for such feelings as they endured the hardships of the four horses of the apocalypse: war, famine, disease, and a lot of death, which guaranteed a particular understanding of the frailty and vulnerability of human life. But with the prosperity and decadence of the 1950s and beyond, the western world could focus on the trilogy of gender, race, and class, with a side of ‘feeling good.’

To satisfy humanity’s need for purpose, the therapeutic culture developed the stages of enlightenment starting with self-awareness, self-love, and ultimately self-acceptance through self-growth, which in turn degrades into self-absorption. Being natural syncretists, secularists hijacked and altered eastern terminology, determining that people be drawn into the introspective self: the goddess within.

One ostensible path to self-actualization was through achieving high self-esteem. In the 1970s, human potential psychology arose to support self-obsession with psychologist Nathaniel Brandon declaring good self-esteem as the most important factor to determine a person’s chance at success. He believed the root problems of society, including violence, drug use, teen pregnancy, etc. were simply caused by low self-esteem. Another psychologist of the self-esteem movement Carl Rogers advised giving unconditional acceptance, eliminating competition, and promoting the idea that there are no wrong answers. Self-esteem must be preserved through praise in order to see success and harmonious relationships. The handy Rosenberg self-esteem scale can be used to elucidate your own self-esteem level. By achieving high self-esteem, through self-respect and respect from others, man can reach the heights of self-actualization.

Unfortunately, as the scale shows self-esteem is affected by peer approval, perceived appearance (particularly for women), success in careers and interests, it is very difficult to boost the self-esteem of a female who is unattractive, socially awkward, and lacks particular talent. It seems many people are fated to have low self-esteem. Additionally, too high self-esteem is undesirable as it can a sign of megalomania and is found in those with psychotic behavior.

Sensitivity groups appeared in order to discuss thought adjustment to change societal mantras concerning PC behavior, minorities, and differences between people. The Church became “theology-lite” as it avoided talking about Hell, mortal sin, difficult scriptural passages, and rarely asserted itself as having the real truth in Jesus Christ. Relativism infiltrated and hijacked the Catholic Church from within as religious in droves adopted their new syncretistic ideology where all faiths are possible paths to God. Unfortunately, a remnant of nuns today can still be heard to invoke Allah and the Yogi in prayer.

Through thought adjustment people could not regard any religion, ethnicity, or lifestyle as superior, but believed people could overcome fear and ostracization through mutual understanding. Thus, America is not a Christian nation, but now a proudly relativistic one where the personal blending of faiths is seen as most appropriate. There’s no wrong answer, no dangerous faith which is why Islam is observed as a religion of peace (although history states otherwise for Muhammad was a military commander).

The educational system wholeheartedly accepted the self-esteem ideology’s notion of ‘equality of reward’ by distributing participation trophies and eliminating corporal punishment. Parents and teachers were dissuaded from criticizing and instilling self-doubt to ensure kids felt they were ‘good’ people whether they committed good or bad acts. Schools experienced grade inflation, where in the 1960s 18% of college freshman received A’s while 48% do today. Growing up, millennials particularly were prized as being the centerpieces of the family. Parental free time was spent carting kids from one activity to the next. Kids were turned into ‘teacups’ or snowflakes, lacking the gift of failure which teaches them to adapt to adversity and grow in self-reliance. Apparently lacking agency, snowflakes released into the world continually cast blame on society for its perceived imperfections. My own millennial generation is now accused of being the generation of self-obsessed, irresponsible, and unmotivated adults. But we can always say, it’s not our fault—you did this to us!

The new alternative is apparently to have self-compassion, to ‘treat yourself like your best friend’. We shouldn’t feel superior, aka prideful, as high self-esteem apparently empowered people to believe. Rather we should recognize our goodness and treat ourselves kindly when we fail.

Women are particularly drawn to these vaguely spiritual movements touted by the likes of Deepak Chopra and the big O. They coopt pleasant religious beliefs just as workout instructors coopted Hindu yoga. They invent their own mantras for t-shirts, memes, or social media declaring ‘I am strong. I am beautiful. I am enough.’, ‘I am attracting all the love I dream and deserve’, or a particularly obtuse one ‘You are perfect today’. These positive thinking exercises and self-agency mantras reflect a spiritual need to understand one’s true worth. If they shut their eyes to the revelation of God, people will attempt to make it appear from thin air.

We unsurprisingly find people attempting very similar paths to self-fulfillment. Most buoy their sense of worth with material, worldly goods: good looks, wealth, accomplishments in career/hobbies, and a charming personality. They believe themselves to be good people by adopting the popular standards of right opinions and actions. They develop a persona amenable to their chosen community leaving their self-worth based on the perceived regard of others. Of course the disabled, lower class, ugly, less intelligent, and people of difficult temperaments are held to be lesser.

Relativism endorses the psychology-founded self-esteem, self-compassion, and thought adjustment movements which attempt to replace religion. They attempt to give a framework for achieving self-fulfillment through faith in oneself. If you simply believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. But to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, those who truly believe in themselves are the mentally insane—for they believe their truth most wholeheartedly and cannot be persuaded otherwise. Believing in oneself does not ensure one is right, nor pave a path to happiness.

The real test of faith comes during trials of sacrifice and loss. None of these relativistic faiths are sustainable through hardships of war or poverty. They make no sense of suffering. The impoverished slave women of India are not going to be uplifted by the mantras that ‘I am enough’ or ‘follow your passions’. The real truth carries one through poverty, death, disease, and loss. Let's cut the crap about serving the goddess within. Truly, to be human means to be weak, vulnerable, and prone to error. Truth comes from outside of us; from the Heavens.

The objective truth is we’re all sinners who fail. In our pride, we cannot replace God by constructing a 'personal truth' and the true path to joy. These mantras habitually repeated by the media and the educational system must end. Compassion is most dangerous when personal preferences trump objective truth. Relativism is by the far the greatest enemy to Christian society for it seduces people by appealing to the most deeply entrenched vice of pride. The antidote to drinking the strong intoxicating liquor of pride is humility. It is fought through submission to the truth in prayer, fasting, and spreading of the Gospel.

In the end of life when we meet our Maker, all will know the truth: Creation was never about me in particular, nor my own happiness. No wishful thinking, or ‘whatever floats your boat’ should suffice as a Creed. Creation was for God to reveal Himself to us, and to grow in relationship with us. The truth is demanding, but in Christ it is love. We are 'self-actualized' the more we're struck by God's infinite love for us, and respond to it.

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” – St. Mother Teresa

Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa where St. Teresa of Avila is struck by the love of God.

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