In Hong Kong, a city I particularly love, there are so many people, every place is crowded. This reminds me of a book I was reading while there, The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon. In the book I found this dark observation: “Little adapted to reasoning, crowds, on the contrary, are quick to act. As the result of their present organization their strength has become immense. The dogmas whose birth we are witnessing will soon have the force of the old dogmas; that is to say, the tyrannical and sovereign force of being above discussion. The divine right of the masses is about to replace the divine right of kings.” We talk a lot about the wisdom of the crowds, the market economy….but sometimes one has the impression that “crowd” is just another name that some higher power is using to impose its agenda. Is it not like this also in the Catholic Church? In the name of the “people,” treasures of faith and art have been destroyed despite official Church documents stating quite the opposite. I never believe these populist approaches. I have become an elitist. I am now against “crowds” but for people, the real one, not numbers or empty statistics. The same people that are in search of beauty and meaning in their life but are prevented access to them because of the absurdities spread by Church leaders that often live well-protected in their huge apartments. We need to find again our roots and identity.
Masses do not have divine rights, they are merely tools in the hands of people that know how to trigger their reactions and numb their sense of reality. It seems almost true when the great Italian writer Umberto Eco talked of Ur-fascism: “Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view—one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction.” Ring a bell? Because it should.
From the Philokalia: “The monk should shut all the gates of his soul, that is, the senses, so that he is not lured astray. When the intellect sees that it is not dominated by anything, it prepares itself for immortality, gathering its senses together and forming them into one body.” It is interesting this idea of a body of senses. The liturgy should be this “body of senses,” the pedagogy to distill what is good and healthy in our passions without leaving us in the hands of the enemy.