Monday, May 18, 2009

Etymology and hatred

Inspired by, "an act of contempt," which jumped out and presented itself to me as another one of the many reasons I shouldn't use Facebook.

Etymology is interesting. Take the word 'contempt' for example. It is derived from the Latin word contemnere, which means, "to despise," or, "to think little of." Contemnere itself is derived from the Latin word temnere, meaning, "to scorn," or, "to despise," and the prefix, "con-," a form of cum, which means, "with," or, "to associate with." 'Contempt' refers to associating a thing with scorn or disdain. 'Disdain' is itself and interesting word. It is derived from the Latin dedignari, a combination of the verb dignari, meaning, "to deem worthy," and the prefix, "de-," which means, "out of," or, "from," leading to it being associated with the idea of removal or reversal. So disdain is the reversal of deeming a thing of having some worth, i.e. to deem a thing to be of no worth or value.

Now what is interesting here is that a man who deems a thing to be of no value does not go out of his way to attack it. He simply walks away from it and ignores it. A man who has contempt for the penny does not start a campaign to eliminate the penny, he simply refuses to to use them, leaving them behind in those little dishes at check-outs or turning them into larger change. He will not stoop to pick up a penny, but he doesn't denounce the penny at the top of his voice. To do so would to give it more attention than it is worth. A man does not attack what he despises, what he has contempt for. He attacks what he hates. But hatred, for all its negative connotations, does not deal in worthlessness, in insignificance. It is not insignificant things that we truly hate, it is significant ones. Annoyances can he ignored, it is monsters that must be killed.

This leaves us with a question we must ask: "What does it say about a man who hates - truly, viscerally hates - the single longest continuing organization of the West? An organization that, for whatever good or ill one might accuse it of, is at the roots of the civilization in which he lives.

Does he care for reason? It is this organization whose monks preserved learning, both practical and theoretical, when the lights went out on civilization and the barbarians ran rampant over the land. It was this organization that civilized the barbarians. It was this organization that created the university and the hospital.

Does he value freedom? It is this organization that said the authority of kings has its limits, and that the use of power was not a rule in itself but was rather ruled by justice. It was the organization that said that there was more to life than the state, which must be contained to its proper sphere.

To hate the Catholic Church is to hate Western Civilization. To hate Western Civilization is, for western man, to hate himself, for he is its product and heir. Hatred of the Catholic Church - true, pure hatred of it - is born of self-hatred. And true self-hatred is born of a guilty conscience, one that continually whispers, "This is not how man was meant to live. The pleasure you pretend to revel in is empty, the pain you ignore is deep and true."

A man who does evil must necessarily hate himself in some way. He must either hate the evil he does, and seek mercy; or he must hate that in himself which accuses him, and seek to destroy it. And if he wishes to destroy it, he must try to destroy that which constantly reminds him of the accusations.

The Church is the conscience of this and every age. An age that despises and seeks to kill conscience is one that must despise and seek to kill the Church. We live in such an age. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri. Have mercy on us, Lord, for all our foolish hatred. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

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