Sailing the Sea of Culture

Cultures press upon us all. The collective weight of a thousand trends. The memes, the stories, the passions swirl about us, and no one is immune, nor should we be. We are living, relational, communal beings, it does not behoove us to be indifferent as Gibraltar. But neither are we to be flotsam upon the tide. We are to be both ships and shapers, to navigate by the fixed heavens at one time and pressing even the waters back from our shores at another. We are to constrain the sea with the levees of reality and set steady courses by the light of truth. Ground yourself in reality. Gird yourself with truth. Be alive, reactive and adaptive to your environment, but never slave to it. Find guidance from the eternal amidst the fashionable; never allow the latter to adjudicate the former.

You wish to be progressive? Excellent! But never forget that progress cannot be measured without a fixed goal. The doctrines of relativism countermand those of progress and cannot even hint at proselytism without hypocrisy. Truth will be what truth is, quite oblivious to our sophisms.

You wish to be loving? This is the highest aim! But never confuse blind tolerance for love. Love is not blind and will tolerate self-destruction no more than attack. Love will discipline what mere tolerance must abide.

You long for justice? As do i! We will surely find it at the junction of love and truth, a crossroads i believe we selfish creatures can reach by God's grace alone.

And if you do, if you act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Truth, be assured that the winds of fashion and waves of politics will buffet you, chastise you. The tide of culture will rise upon your walls, and you will feel the pervasive, persistent pressure of peers pushing and pulling at your principals and precepts. Who can hold back the sea alone? Bind yourself to a community of others and together anchor in those harbors old and sure, together navigate the uncharted with diligent study, together shape for yourselves an identity, a story even, that is alive, both rooted and active. Know together whence you have come and whither you will go, or else who will be able to distinguish you from a lifeless branch drifting aimlessly about the sea?

So, be different from your culture and even from the "march of history", but at the bidding of truth and love, not reflexively nor stubbornly. Neither be merely "true to yourself", for you owe yourself no credit for your creation and are in no sense the arbiter of reality. Be true to truth. Be different from lies. And on both counts, expect and accept the opposition you will oft find from both others and your own self. Your internal resistance will oft be the greater challenge. Be at peace with the inescapability of conflict and failure; never cease your efforts to avoid and ameliorate them without compromising either truth or love.

With man, this is impossible. With God, all things are possible.

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