Guilty conscience over the terrible inhumanity and atrocious degradation of whole sectors of humanity based on race and class had to be reawakened, and the powerful brought to shame and acceptance of guilt – at least a critical mass thereof. It was the work of William Wilberforce and his growing army of collaborators who undertook this impossible-looking task. And they won the hearts of the masses along the way with their practical demonstration and savvy campaign strategies.
Repentance! And how does one truly repent? That comes from within, in and of the spirit, the full acceptance of what an awakened conscience shouts at our hearts. It cannot be contrived by an intellectual process or a superficial emotional response of regret and remorse. Political posturing does not constitute repentance, as necessary as political action is at the national level. In Germany, there was, from the beginning of the movement, an underlying spiritual movement. It came out of the country’s long-neglected Christian roots.
in the back reaches of our souls, the little inner voice still whispers, “But you know you are a sinner, that you have been and are immoral. You know there really are right and wrong things, things in your mind and that you actually do which really should change, however much they can be rationalized and temporized by your own inclinations and the wink-winking of society.
Western humans entertain a sort of self-hypnosis that we can and will master nature, compel it to do our bidding, because, tiny on the cosmic scale as we are, we are smart, really smart! We can learn everything we need to because we are so smart. We apparently are in the process of uncovering the very secrets of the Universe Itself – its when, what, and how at least. Our current paradigm mostly sloughs off the why and who and makes the where irrelevant.
The pursuit of fame, fortune, the perfect body, the perfect career, the perfect partner, all turns to sand after a while. When we wake up to that, we begin to search for an identity beyond our technological prowess and our mania for “self-actualizing” ourselves as anything we care to imagine. For most of us, the refrain of “you can be and do anything you like or can imagine, even totally reinvent yourself and your gender” turns out to be the pursuit of a phantom which keeps disappearing around the next corner or curve in the road. Or maybe the Phantom sneaks up from behind and laughs snidely that it’s a chimera. The Phantom smirks that we should have known all along what we are really supposed to become, but now we’ve burned so many bridges it’s too late, or seems to be, to go back.
Ideology blinds its fanatical promoters and advocates at least as much as any theology. What we have now seen all too terribly in modern history is that it ultimately kills many more people, much more beauty, creativity, and even creation than any set of Inquisitors, Puritans, or whatever other set of religious zealots ever did.