December 2008 - Stolen Childhood (Part 2)

Paternity and maternity did not survive the assault of the Revolution. We heard their death-knell in our previous letter. The times are over when one could see a father endowed with a sacred authority and a mother haloed by affection, leaning over on the infant's cradle and taking care of his education. We could from now on write upon many of these cradles the extremely sad words, "father and mother unknown."
 

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Paternity and maternity did not survive the assault of the Revolution. We heard their death-knell in our previous letter. The times are over when one could see a father endowed with a sacred authority and a mother haloed by affection, leaning over on the infant's cradle and taking care of his education. We could from now on write upon many of these cradles the extremely sad words, "father and mother unknown."

Let us not be mistaken about the reasons for this massive parental abandonment. It is not due to the fact that fickle men and flighty women did not have enough heart to recognize the consequences of their transitory and egoistic passions. This explanation, common in other times, does not correspond any more to the reality of our post-revolutionary world. It does not take into account an extremely new social phenomenon which seems impossible but whose existence we cannot deny: there are children who live under the same roof as their parents and maintain close daily relations with them, but who are essentially orphans.

Who can measure the profound effects of such a situation upon the souls of this new breed of orphans?

The most serious disaster that we must consider first, because of its many intellectual, psychological, emotional and social consequences, is the interior distortion caused in the soul of this spiritual orphan.

Obeying the natural law engraved in his soul, the child rests with confidence on his parents, instinctively hoping to find in them the solid foundation upon which to build his own life as a man. However, because of the absence of paternity and maternity that foundation does not exist. The child is soon bitterly wounded, yet continues to turn to his parents, which proves that this absence is, essentially, against nature. It is a challenge to the intelligence and to the heart that the child will not be able to overcome. By nature, he is strongly driven to seek from his parents the certainties that are necessary for him, but the profound wounds that he has received in each one of his vain attempts are extremely painful and leave deep traces in his soul. His whole being continues to be oriented towards his parents by nature, even after he decides to turn away from them because he is hurt in the depths of his soul by a wound that does not heal. This internal opposition never ceases. His soul is a constant and exhausting battlefield. He advances into life battered, half-dead... half man!

The first practical consequence of this wound is a profound distrust regarding all authority. He does not always openly rebel against authority, but he has no confidence in it and always seeks to free himself from it. Incapable of opening himself to his parents and depending upon them, he grows used to living in a parallel world, hiding from them his joys and his sorrows and offering to them only a smooth facade behind which violent storms hide.

The protective facade of childhood becomes a second nature. He learns to lead a double life and to do so, forms, as it were, a double personality. Having mastered the art of dissimulation, he is used to this duality which has developed in him, without his realizing it, an inability to live in the truth. However, we must not consider him a liar who knowingly lies in order to mislead others. This is a more serious illness: that of constantly variable sincerity - he is equally sincere not only when he takes one stand but also the next moment, when he takes the totally opposite stand. This is a true (and very difficult to cure) disease of the soul. Moreover, in order to avoid any conflicts that could immediately revive the wounds of his first filial disappointments, he adapts himself perfectly to all situations, even the most contradictory, presenting in each one the facade required by the circumstances.

His distrust of authority makes of him a particular kind of asocial being. We could define him as a congenital individualist! He lives in society, shines in it or holds important positions, but he never devotes himself to the common good. He considers, on the contrary, that society is at his service and exists to provide him advantages. He is careful to participate only in what is strictly necessary to continue enjoying its benefits. This man lives in a separate world where, cut off from his fellow men, he is locked in upon himself and becomes spiritually prostrate, primarily interested only in his own self. In the end, he is only a monster of pride, incapable of integrating into his life the social dimension of his nature. The philosopher Marcel de Corte, wanting to describe the individualistic gangrene that rots our society, forged the extremely precise term of dissociete, "dissociety." This man without roots is the most perfect exemplar.

Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to entitle this letter "The Wild Children," thus making reference to those poor children who have been abducted as infants by wild beasts and lived with these animals in the middle of the jungle. Returned to the society of men, these poor beings remained handicapped, unable to fit into a normal life and longing to live in their previous world, far from this society of men which is so foreign to them because of its customs, its language and its thought! Thus appear to us those adults whose childhood was stolen. As children they did not receive from their parents the education which would have enabled them to come out of themselves, to rise above the petty concerns for their own persons. Having become men, they retain the traces of this first deficiency and remain deeply asocial beings.

In a future letter we will talk about the damage that this loss of childhood causes to a man's private life. We wanted this month to devote our letter to the unhappy social consequences that this loss of childhood generates, because they appear to us to be the most terrible. They affect, indeed, not only man as a private individual, but the whole of society.

We pray that this Christmas will be for you the occasion to turn towards Our Lord Jesus Christ and thank Him for having come to save us, we who need so much to be torn away from ourselves!

Come, Oh Lord, do not delay any more! Come, remain in our souls. We need Thee and Thy Light so much, because the night is growing darker in this world that has turned away from Thee!

In Christo Sacerdote et Maria

Fr. Yves le Roux