“My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!” __ Charles Baudelaire, French Poet, 1864
The above quote about sums up what the enlightenment brought with it. When Satan is no longer real then sin is no longer real as our Pope some 80 years hence proclaimed: “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin” (Pope Pius XII, Radio Message to the U.S. National Catechetical Congress in Boston, October 26, 1946).
Now some 65 years later I think we are entering a new era of the enlightenment: the era where true reality does not exist. Virtual reality is now more believed and viewed than is the actual lives and events taking place in the real world. It seems we have a generation that might ask: “what is real?” It reminds me of when Pilate said to Christ: “what is truth?”
We wring our hands about the loss of moral values and the loss of patriotism in our country. But it seems that the whole world is living in a virtual reality; completely absorbed in their virtual friends, music, texting, videos, television, movies and the like. Is it that the technology just took us there or is it that we made such a mess of the real world that the virtual world is more appealing? When our young people who grew up with this technology are watched we will notice that they do not converse so much with one another. Instead that parallel play like developing children, each involved in their own self-absorbed interests. You’ll see a table of young (and sometimes older people as well) not conversing with one another but each either listening to their mp3 players, surfing the web, texting, watching movies or updating their Facebook pages with seemingly little or no interest in the reality of the moment.
I’m not sure how this bodes for mankind socially, economically, morally or developmentally. I only know that present reality is a must for those who seek Truth. They won’t find a virtual Truth or Good. In other words, you won’t find God within some alternate universe of 0’s and 1’s. The effect of the visual horror that is portrayed by so many video games, television shows and movies has blunted the reality of the horror that exists in the real world. They have become numb or indifferent to it and need only change the channel or, as I suspect, bring their virtual reality into the world as their base of reference.
I don’t know why things like last night’s shooting at the opening of the Batman movie occur. It seems impossible to deny, however, that the world has seen an uptick in the most horrible behavior imaginable: from Columbine to kids beating up and even killing innocent people for fun or to upload the crime to Youtube. For these folks, this is their moment of fame. This gives them purpose in life. It is a tragedy to say the least.
Obviously not all of our youth are affected to this degree, in fact, it is a small percentage. I only maintain that it is on the rise and that its growth is creating unforeseen problems, both mentally and physically. Many try to use the new mediums to reach the kids and give them better answers for life than they are presently finding and I praise them for it. I hope and pray that we start finding ways of reaching these people who are so self-absorbed and live and breathe virtual reality on a daily basis. Otherwise, how will they ever discover meaning and purpose of life? How can they find a successful path to the everlasting peace and joy to which we are each called?