Today the news is that the Dow Jones dropped a bunch. There are some riots in England. A couple days ago a helicopter full of Americans was shot down in Afghanistan. The Yankees are in first place.
None of this matters. But all of it matters. How can both these statements be true? Let’s start with why it does matter.
The economy matters because people need bread. The riots matter because people need peace and security. The war matters because different tribes have different goals. The standings matter because I hate the Yankees.
Eating, having security, winning wars, and winning pennants: all these are wonderful and good. But they are not why we are here on earth. They are merely the trappings of life.
The economy is probably on the verge of collapsing. We may be in for very dark times ahead. Indeed, times are dark already, but the dark times on the near horizon may involve things we have not seen yet: middle-class people thrust into penury, general hunger, gang wars in the suburbs. This is terrible and to be resisted.
But let us pretend that tomorrow morning, when we woke up, the earth would be covered in prosperity and peace. Then what? Those people that have families would certainly feel immense relief. They already know that their reason to be alive is to love their spouses, to protect and nurture and love their children. But assuming such a state could go on forever, what then? And what of the childless, the drunk, and the mendicant?
Collapse is not a bad thing, though it is assuredly a very bad thing. All that matters is that a human becomes holy. How do we become holy? Through the economy? Through conquering Afghanistan? Through winning the pennant? No. We become holy by humbling ourselves before God, and through glorifying God, and through penance and prayer.
One must never wish for mundane evil. Mundane evil is evil. The Devil himself set the trap wherein people who would be holy hope for ugliness and despair. Because, though it might lead to greater holiness, it also leads to spiritual pride for the one who hoped for it. “I told you so” is a vomitous thing to say.
But we must never fear economic collapse, nor race wars, nor the Taliban, nor the prospect of yet another last place finish. Trials are beautiful. They make us noble, if only we can see the bigger picture.