Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, says relativism and narcissism lead to ignorance and manipulation
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
WHITE ROCK, B.C.
A culture of relativists and narcissists is dragging Western society downwards, says Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
The star of "EWTN Live" spoke to a crowd of mostly university-aged students at Star of the Sea Parish June 2 as part of the parish's "Be Transformed in Christ" event.
Father Pacwa said the philosophy of relativism and the psychological mood of narcissism have combined in the West to produce a culture with no understanding of objective truth, a culture full of ignorant people.
He first explained the dangers of relativism in today's society.
"To a relativist there is no such thing as objective truth," Father Pacwa said. "They say, 'If you have your truth, and I have my truth, then I won't judge your truth, and you won't judge my truth, and we can live happily and easily together.'"
Father Pacwa said relativists sometimes use Mt 7:1 to set their agenda. In the Gospel story Jesus tells a crowd, "Do not judge."
"That verse has taken on a life of its own in modern society," Father Pacwa said. "They don't know the next part of that sentence which is, 'Do not judge so that you may not be judged.'"
He said the relativist mindset is illogical because it fails to recognize objective truth. He believes relativists should say they don't know if there is a truth instead of "accepting" everyone's "truths."
Father Pacwa said this mindset is dangerous because it means disagreements can't be thought through rationally. Instead arguments and conflicts are won through "power plays."
"What's left for the relativists is that might makes right," he said.
Father Pacwa told a story from his days as a professor, when he would get various journals from universities. He said history professors reported that students with a relativistic point of view had a hard time saying the Nazis were wrong for having death camps in WWII.
"Their relativism made it impossible to say that the Nazi persecutions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others were immoral."
He then moved on to the topic of narcissism, which he said is epidemic in today's society, especially in young people.
"Narcissism leaves no room for loving God or other people." This mindset, he said, is also prevalent in young people's sexual relationships.
"People want to have a person who looks good and is 'up to their standard.'"
He said narcissism has also decreased society's moral compass. He referred to the series finale of the TV show "Seinfeld" as an example.
In it, as a man gets robbed, the show's characters watch, filming the situation and laughing. They are arrested under the aptly named "Good Samaritan" law and get prison sentences.
Father Pacwa said Seinfeld fans hated the episode because it depicted what society had become.
Relativism and narcissism have produced a society incapable of taking personal responsibility, he said, warning that lack of understanding of objective truth by a selfish society would lead to a dangerous, less aware society.
"When the majority of people don't know things it's very easy for them to be bamboozled by the few who do."