I just heard on the CBC that two million Canadians have just begun their course of studies at university, and my mind boggled. I knew that a whole cohort of people – mainly young, but also the old and in-between – were trotting off to what are still endearingly called ‘higher studies, but two million? That must be close to every single person of post-secondary age. And this after already a decade-and-a-half in pre-university state-run schools.
Ponder what should be a sombre and sobering fact, that we have given over the entire education – a full twenty years of it – of now two or three generations to a socialist and atheistic system, over whose curricula we have no control, and of which we know little. And this, from kindergarten – why such little children need to be away from their mothers is a mystery to me and likely a misery to most of them – all the way to post-post-graduate school, and beyond.
No wonder the likes of Trudeau get elected, and no wonder the hapless Andrew Scheer dares not speak on such evils as abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage – to say nothing of the metaphysical rot eating away at the core of our civilization, if he is even aware of such – for all the voters d’un certain age, nearly without exception, have been brainwashed in these endless years of ‘education’ into believing that these are all good things, as right and nice and Canadian as Granny’s apple pie. To their minds, they are not murder and the perversion of the holy bond of matrimony, but rather, in Trudeaupian language, now that of Canada, they are seen as ‘reproductive rights’, ‘end-of-life care’, ‘compassion’, ‘tolerance’ and non-discrimination.
We may add to the list: The Church, if mentioned at all during their four or more years, is taught as bad, at least to be ignored as an embarrassing relic or superstition, if not razed to the ground, in accord with Voltaire’s signature cry, ecrasez l’infame!. The great works of civilization are to be interpreted in light of modernist principles, the will-to-power, subjugation, colonialism, racism, sexism, and white patriarchy – whatever that means – the very devil. Medicine and nursing are already in league with the culture of death, and will soon, if not already, become inextricably intertwined. Climate change, environmental activism and LGBTQ rights are enforced with an inquisitorial orthodoxy of the mediaeval (and rather mythical) Spanish could only have dreamed.
Yes, there are any number of good and worthy things still offered at university: math, engineering, some literature, and such. Much of these are more advanced technical skills, rather than what universities should hand on, the great and noble universal truths which make us fully human and free.
But here’s the rub: Even those who resist the indoctrination – both passive and active – in what time they spend in those unhallowed halls, who perhaps just want to gain a degree in a ‘real’ subject – and not gender-queer history – will have been robbed, denied an integral and whole Catholic education, and graduate ignorant of whole swathes of our intellectual and spiritual heritage, unable to coherently defend the truth, nor even, dare I add, live it out fully. We are all denizens of Plato’s dark cave, watching images of images and shadows of shadows, simulacra of the truth, but lies nonetheless – and count me amongst them, a privation I only discovered after my own desperate years at university trying naively to find the truth, a quixotic quest, and a privation I have spent years trying to rectify, to limited success. What good and truth I have found, and been able to hand on to others, is by the grace and mercy of God.
As Saint Thomas said all those years ago, and whom we quote today on the homepage:
Yet year after year, even good Catholic families, striving for holiness, doing their best to raise their children in a fractious world, even years of unsupported home or private schooling, still send them off to these vast, socialist compounds, where their souls will be put severely to the test in the bloom of young adulthood, when their minds are most impressionable, and come out with what Alexander Pope decried as a little learning – a dangerous thing.
The argument made for what seems an imprudent course is that, after all, does not one need a ‘job’? And is not a university degree the path to such?
In part, yes, but we are quickly entering a world, if we have not already done so, where the only ‘real’ jobs – at least stable ones, with benefits and a retirement package – are, by and large, the government and statist, funded and overseen by the same socialist system as funds the universities. And most of these are hardly ‘real’ jobs, in the sense of producing real wealth; many, if not most, are just more bureaucracy, shuffling of papers, more burdensome legislation, more oversight, policing, coddling. We are revivifying, if such be the word, the Soviet era of bland uniformity to a Godless regime, where one must belong to the ‘Party’ to ‘belong’, and eke out a living.
Students are perhaps beginning to wake up – in what may be a good sense of ‘woke’ – to this thinly-veiled Ponzi scheme, and to the chaotic mess that our university campuses have become behind their glossy veneer, which is why substance abuse, depression, anxiety, precocious and meaningless sexuality, with its deep regret and sorrow, suicide and self-harm, are all on the rise. And they have little or no spiritual foundation or remedy for this. Where would they go? To confession? The small campus ministries can do little against such a great morass of evil.
So, instead, as the same program on the CBC lovingly reported, students are now being given ‘comfort packages’ for frosh week, with pencils, ear plugs, perhaps even crayons and such things, to see them through their trials. A Rosary, Catechism and Carmelite scapular might be more to the point, but could you imagine?
My one consolation is that this cannot get much worse before at least some people – parents, one might hope – wake up. Some have already done so, but all too few.
(Then again, as a colleague of mine would say in moments of great distress, things can always get worse, but I strive for optimism).
My advice to the two million hapless souls?
If you must attend university, for whatever reason, hunker down, choose your companions well, pray much, attend the Mass and sacraments, do some extracurricular reading to fill your mind with the true and good, and get out as soon as you can.
If you don’t have to attend, and find yourself mired in some mickey-mouse fodder of a first-year program, in dimly-lit lecture halls – recall Plato’s cave – filled with hundreds of other bewildered minds, get out now, find a place that offers a real and integral education. Or do something else useful, a trade, a craft, work with the poor, defend the unborn, walk the Camino, read great and good books on your own; start a family, even a farm; or, if so inclined, join a monastery or convent, or even found one. There is nothing so beneficial to society as those who work and pray ad maiorem Dei gloriam.
There is much of life outside the bleakness of the modern university. In fact, it’s the best place to find life.