Let me take a selfie is the title of a very popular song and video clip, the theme of which hits right at the heart of the Third Synod Priority Regenerating the Moral and Spiritual Values of our Society.
In the Guidelines for the Parish Pastoral Plan, the opinion is put forward that our culture “is based on the promotion of self…it makes the self the very centre. Each individual can determine his or her future”, what Pope Benedict XVI called the “Dictatorship of Relativism”. A person is considered successful “if he/she has money, power and pleasure”.
If we go beneath the catchy tune and crazy imagery of this song, it highlights the cancer eroding our souls – whether or not it was intended to do so. In the song the young girl is consumed with self, flitting from one thought to another based on her feelings, her opinions and her self-gratification, and she keeps interrupting her conversation to take a “selfie”, i.e. a picture of herself to send to others, put up on her (Facebook ) page and so on.
She asks: “What should my caption be? I want it to be clever. I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes.”
Then she comments: “After we go to the bathroom, can we go smoke a cigarette? I really need one, but first let me take a selfie.”
“Do you think that girl was pretty? How did she even get in here? She is so short and that dress is so tacky.”
This song takes it to an extreme, perhaps, but it’s not too far from the truth of our lives and our culture. When a group of young people were questioned with respect to the moral aspect of the recent fighting among students which went viral, they were not specifically concerned about the behaviour of the fighting students; they appeared to be more perturbed at the intervention of the sole individual who was trying to break up the fight. Most indicated that they would not have intervened for fear of personal harm.
While that is natural, what is the moral stand on this? Do our people lack moral courage, which goes beyond self and speaks for the good of others? How do we move from focus on self, to mesh reality with morality, when:
- God is a low priority.
- The self is being exalted more and more.
- We do not recognise any moral objective order like the Ten Commandments.
- Morality becomes a private, subjective matter, heavily based on the individual’s feelings.
- Personal guilt has been replaced by collective responsibility.
- We no longer see others as being made in the image and likeness of God.
All of the foregoing statements are based on the findings of the Standing Committee on Regenerating the Moral and Spiritual Values of our Society.
“Left to its own natural powers, humanity does not have access to the ‘Father’s House’, to God’s life and happiness” (CCC 661).
The opportunity is here for all of us to make a difference through the Pastoral Plans we implement, which should embrace all levels and aspects of our society. As Archdiocese, Departments and Parishes we should endeavour to reach the Family – the domestic Church, the schools, all members of our faith – practising or not, exposing all of society to the Catholic way of life.
The spiritual education of our children and ongoing education of adults is of foremost importance in this process. The Church believes that the formation of conscience and informed teachings will lead to strong moral principles. All of us have rights but with these come responsibility. Without morality, there is no responsibility.
We are all partners in this work; it’s a task not only for priests, catechists and teachers but also parents and every member of the faith community. Starting from the Sacrament of Baptism, we should be committed to forming those young souls for the glory of God. We ought to seek out those we have lost along the way and try to bring them back into the fold.
If we do not, we will continue to use our freedom of choice to exalt self and to erode the moral and spiritual values ordained by God.
Freedom “must be rooted in the truth and yield to the good”. We cannot end up as a society in which young girls ask: “Should I go home with him? Guess I took a good selfie.”
– Diane Lucky, Archdiocesan Catechetical Office