Essay on merits and demerits of internet

2019s note: The following address was given at the inaugural conference of the Transatlantic Christian Council, held essay on merits and demerits of internet Brussels on December 4. It is often said that we live in a post-Christian society. That is true, but its meaning is generally misunderstood.

Editor’s note: The following address was given at the inaugural conference of the Transatlantic Christian Council, held in Brussels on December 4. A post-Christian society is not merely a society in which agnosticism or atheism is the prevailing fundamental belief. It is a society rooted in the history, culture, and practices of Christianity but in which the religious beliefs of Christianity have been either rejected or, worse, forgotten. In other words a post-Christian society is a particular sort of Christian society. At an emotional level, its Christian character explains why many agnostics and atheists nonetheless find Christian hymns suitable and comforting at occasions such as funerals and weddings.

Intellectually, its dormant Christian beliefs — notably those about the nature of Man — underpin our ideas on politics and foreign policy, as for instance on human rights. Even the Enlightenment — which strong secularists like to cite as the foundation of Western liberal polities — is an extension of Christianity as much as a rejection of it. In short, though much of what Christianity taught is forgotten, even unknown, by modern Europeans and Americans, they nonetheless act on its teachings every day. But there are consequences to forgetting truths. One consequence is that while we instinctively want to preserve the morals and manners of the Christian tradition, we cannot quite explain or defend them intellectually.

When courtesy is abandoned, we invent speech codes, which are blunter in their impact and repress legitimate disagreement along with insults. When female sexual modesty and male sexual restraint are discredited as puritanical, we draw up contractual arrangements to ensure that any sexual contact is voluntary on both sides. Above all, when we no longer protect and strengthen the family on the grounds that it is a patriarchal institution harmful to the life chances of women, we encourage the family breakdown that leaves women worse off financially, pushes men into an irresponsible life, and damages their children socially and psychologically. Family breakdown is in fact the largest single social disaster plaguing the post-Christian society. The family is a natural way of regulating and disciplining us and our ambitions in the activities of everyday life.

The result of family breakdown is that we have to replace the family with regulation after regulation. Our remedies — easier divorce, better financial arrangements for women after divorce, increased welfare for single mothers, bureaucratic agencies to compel men to make child-support payments, laws and regulations that disadvantage natural family relationships in court decisions on child care and adoption, and much else — never work as well as the stable families they replace. Indeed, very often they make the situation worse. Let me give you a very recent example: A pregnant Italian woman on a visit to Britain failed to take her regular medicine for bipolar disorder and suffered a panic attack. The police were summoned and took her to a psychiatric hospital. The woman has a mother in Italy who cares for her two older children and a sister and an ex-husband in America, both of whom are on good terms with her.

At no point did the courts or the social workers attempt to contact them. Nor was any contact made with the Italian Embassy about the detention of, and forcible medical assault on, an Italian citizen. But he still decided that her baby should be adopted, because the social workers thought that would be in the best interests of the child. No one now argues that the woman is criminal, or incompetent, or otherwise a danger to her baby.

What makes this case so terrifying is that the judge, the social workers, the police, and the doctors almost certainly believe that they acted entirely rightly throughout. Those that do usually occur in non-marital or non-traditional families where there is no biological link between the abused child and the adult abuser. And the statistics show this. Yet the natural affection between parents and children, which should therefore be the starting point of any discussion of a child’s future, is given comparatively little weight in court and casework decisions. The law now assumes that the social worker knows what is best for the child.

And the social worker in turn believes that his decisions are inspired by a professional care for the child that is equal to, even superior to, parental love. The most effective squelching of this argument was heard in Congress a few years ago when an HHS official told Senator Phil Gramm of Texas that he loved the senator’s children as much as the senator did. In short, the best-intentioned regulators cannot replace the family in its most important function of providing sources of order suffused by love. Regulation itself is always a hit-and-miss matter. The best regulation implemented by the most humane and sensible regulators can never match the love of parents who have known a child since the maternity ward. That said, the most effective regulation will be the kind that supports and strengthens families rather than attempting to replace them.

And whatever its purpose, regulation is most likely to work sensitively when it is shaped by the moral values of the local community and when its efficacy can be assessed by local people. Mistakes will still be made, but they are unlikely to be the kind of outrageous mistake that was inflicted on the Italian woman, and they can be corrected more readily. That is the practical argument for the principle of subsidiarity. Yet though lip service is regularly paid to subsidiarity in national and European political debate, we are increasingly faced with a world of regulations and laws that are shaped by remote bureaucracies in accordance with social ideologies that we may not share and that are often opaque or even deliberately concealed from the wider public with its Christian and post-Christian sympathies and moral instincts. Christian traditions of their societies. That has changed since the end of the Cold War and the development of transnational and global institutions that seek to impose on different societies uniform policies rooted in a new interpretation of human rights and international law. European Commission and its expert bodies, the Kyoto process — have expanded their powers in three ways.