What’s the opposite temptation from ideology?
Over the past few centuries, the West has seen a dizzying storm of idea-systems (claiming near-redemptive powers) that have dueled it out on a global stage. –Ism after –ism tries to fit society into its structure. As a reaction, a lot of people nowadays try to run as far as possible from ideologies. And, sometimes, people can run too far in the opposite direction.
An allergy to ideology can quickly become an allergy to belief, in general. Some people, sensitive to how strong beliefs have hurt people, say, “That’s it, ‘strong belief’ in general is dangerous.” In an age where there is a huge marketplace of ideas and one belief easily crashes into another (i.e. multi-culturalism), some people value peace and unity above all else. However, if taken too far, what very naturally results is lukewarmness. Because Truth and Unity can sometimes seem to be at odds, some pit truth against unity (instead of offering the truth for the sake of unity) and become ideologues. But many annihilate truth as a category for the sake of unity (instead of recognizing truth as the locus of unity). The opposite of ideology is a lukewarm, nothing-matters, “unity for unity’s sake”.
Ideology might be a wolf that brings overt violence, but the other side of things is equally as crushing and ugly. It presumes that human beings on their own, will naturally come together in meaningfully deep ways without rallying around what is true. Unity doesn’t just exist on its own. Whenever we talk about unity we have to ask, “Unifying around what?” The only logical answer is, “Something true.” Unity is a result of hearts open to the truth. And, so, in removing any concern for the truth, we undermine ourselves and remove the possibility of lasting, healing, true, communal unity. In the end, this lukewarmness is intensely isolating and boring, both of which are the surest signs of inhumanity.
In terms of the person, the temptation here can be to subjectivize everything. Instead of calling people to any kind of normative, higher standard, a lukewarm “unity for unity’s sake” makes the individual’s experience and feelings sovereign. In an attempt to keep the peace, the ethic of this lukewarmness is to just “do no harm”. This makes everyone an island and, once again, brings a cage of self-absorption and isolation.
Probably very few people are living this out to a tee. It’s antithetical to the human condition to believe in nothing (even that turns into a belief in and of itself). But, still, the proliferation of this mode of being is demonstrable by just observing the exploding use of the word, “Whatever”. Indeed, Pope Francis, among others, reminds us against a “globalization of indifference”, which is a worldwide enslavement to precisely this lukewarm, nothing-is-worth-dying-for, belief-less dungeon.
A good passion and love that morphs towards hate is perhaps the hallmark of ideology. And many see this and think that hate is the opposite of love, so they run in the opposite direction. But, hate is misplaced love, not its opposite. The opposite of love is indifference.
And this is ultimately the reason we need to be on guard against this lukewarm, “who cares”, “whatever”, indifferent mentality. It prohibits us from loving. And, without love, nothing good can happen. So, as a Church, let us realize thatwe can drift towards ideology and “unity for unity’s sake”. Let us resist these temptations and hold fast to Truth, Unity and Love: the truth which sets us free to be one as the Father and Jesus are one and to love as Jesus has loved us. Of course, it all comes back to just looking at Jesus (i.e. being a disciple): Jesus is the truth, He is love and He is the way to unity. When we just look at Jesus and walk with Him, all else falls into place.