Suffer the Children by Anthony Esolen


Suffer the Children

How Can the Young Flourish Without Peace?
by Anthony Esolen

Peace," says St. Augustine, "is the tranquility of order." It is not a cease-fire. It is not some never-land in which each man desires what he will and obtains what he desires. It is not a continual social ferment, managed at the boundaries by government force. It is not the transgressive, the irreverent, the novel for novelty's sake, the twisted, the static without steadfastness, the progressive without aim.

Peace is the tranquility of order.

A World of Disorder

Disorder is strife, constant strife and confusion. A man walks into a women's bathroom, but the offense is supposedly all right, because he bases it upon stark madness, saying that he's really a woman in man-flesh. Confusion. Satanists set up a display on the grounds of a state capitol, to warm the hearts of fellow travelers on their way to the everlasting bonfire. That offense is supposedly all right, because it surges from a hatred of the love of God for man. Strife, disruption. The Boy Scouts are compelled to accept boy-eyeing men as scoutmasters, but that's all right, since boys deserve to have their last wildlife refuge burnt to the roots. War, war without end. A city in England has been trafficking in girls for a decade, but that's all right, because the Pakistanis who live there hate their adopted country. Dissimulation, disintegration.

Half of the children born in Quebec come into the world without a matrimonial haven in which to lay their heads, but we can sleep well at night, because prudence is a vice and charity a check from the government. Teachers introduce children to perversion and obscenity, but that's right sweet, because it entices them away from the detestable idea that men and women are made each for the other, in marriage. Films pullulate with filth, but that's all right, it's the mark of genius. Millions of young people, shacking up, play ball with nitroglycerine, but that's all right, because it makes men appear to be the savage beasts that feminists dearly wish they were.

Nine lawyers in a room in Washington will decide what a marriage is, but that's all right, because we have nine hundred thousand bureaucrats hopping and scraping across the land to tell us what everything else in the world is. That is called freedom.

And now we have Christians, well intended, our brothers and sisters in the faith, who are impure in their inclinations, as all the rest of us sinners are, in one way or another. But these Christians are attracted to members of their own sex, attracted to confusion. Yet they preach to us the good news, that their proclivity is a blessing, so long as they do not act overtly upon it. Ordinary people make ordinary friends with members of their sex, but they and they above all make spiritual friends. It is like saying that having a hankering for someone else's silverware is really special, so long as you don't filch the forks and knives, because you can then illustrate to humdrum people who observe the order of physical ownership just how illuminating spiritual sharing can be. We are to be mollified to consider that their proclivity, unlike that of the thief or the coveter, is for what is itself unnatural and perverse.

No peace, no peace, not enough for the ordinary man to pick himself up off the sidewalk, rub the dirt and blood from his face, arrange his coat, and try to remember where it was he was going before the last beating.

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Anthony Esolen is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Thales College and the author of over 30 books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House) and, with his wife Debra, publishes the web magazine Word and Song ( He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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