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Do You Have The Right Time?

July 3, 2022 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

A stranger comes up to me and asks for the right time. I happily oblige him. On the other hand, if I have the right time, there is no reason for me to ask someone for the wrong time. This simple and obvious fact, which may seem too trivial to point out, nonetheless has far-reaching implications and applications.
Having the right time allows me to know the wrong time. In fact, we can define the wrong time as not being the right time. But if we begin with the wrong time, we cannot determine what is the right time. It is a one-way street, going from the right time to the wrong time, but not vice-versa.
There is an infinite number of wrong times, but only one right time. We might say, to employ a fashionable phrase, that having the wrong time is “inclusive,” whereas having the right time is exclusive. “Inclusivity,” that odd single-word philosophy, however, is deceptive. It runs counter to the notion that too many cooks spoil the broth. It also runs counter to the wisdom of taking the narrow road that leads to spiritual development in the moral domain.
We have moved, historically, from polytheism to monotheism, from polygamy to monogamy. In so doing, we have moved, in a sense, from having the wrong times, though inclusive, to having the right time, though exclusive. These are major developments in which we remove the excess baggage to arrive at what is proper and true.
The displacement of the right time (what is true) by the wrong time (what is false) can be both subtle and infectious. In 1955, a song was created for the TV adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town (lyrics by Sammy Cahn, music by Jimmy Van Heusen). The opening lines tell us that “Love and marriage, love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage. Let me tell ya brother, ya can’t have one without the other.”
This song was also the theme song for the television series Married with Children, which ran for eleven years beginning in 1987.
Despite the ill-conceived comparison between the marital union and a horse yoked to a carriage, the lyrics erroneously link all love to marriage, though making marriage more inclusive than it really is. Love for one’s children, parents, other relatives, and friends surely does not lead to marriage. That hallowed union is not inclusive, but a bond of fidelity between husband and wife.
In a university commencement address, former President Obama told the graduating class that it was about time that anyone could marry the person he loved. He was celebrating, at that time, same-sex “marriage” that the Supreme Court had found to be a constitutional “right.” He was being “inclusive,” but in so doing, opened up marriage so wide that it no longer retained its original meaning, like having the wrong time.
Once marriage is opened up to what it is not, it becomes difficult, if not impossible to return to what marriage is. Likewise, once one begins with the wrong time, it is not possible to determine the right time. Looking at morality in a general sense, if one’s life is given to immorality, he cannot journey from immorality to morality. Mired in immorality, a person does not know what morality is. However, the moral person (who has the “right time”) knows both morality and immorality. It is a “view from the top,” so to speak. From the standpoint of moral deficiencies, the right morality is indiscernible.
St. Paul states: “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one” (I Cor. 2:17). Virtue knows vice, but vice does not know virtue. The saint understands the sinner, but the sinner does not understand the saint.
St. Paul is echoing the situation that Plato described in his famous “Analogy of the Cave.” Prisoners, who spent their lives looking at shadows, did not have enough knowledge to trust their potential liberators who wanted to bring them into reality. Rather than be led into the real world, according to Plato, they would, if it were possible, kill their rescuers. Plato was foreshadowing what Christ experienced.
Here, in essence, is the communication problem between pro-lifers and the pro-abortion vandals who are making their point by resorting to violence rather than to reason. These barbarians (and the term properly describes them) do not recognize their own deficiencies precisely as deficiencies and therefore, are ill-prepared to grasp the rectitude of the pro-life position. One cannot move from having the wrong time to gaining the right time. Only by going outside of a situation of deficiency is there any hope for the vandal to rise to the level of a genuine communication with his opponent.
This discussion brings us to the indispensable importance of God who sees all. Religion offers us the “right time” by which we can discern any number of wrong times. When religion is attacked, the problem of communication becomes more acute. In fact, an attack on religion is an attack on communication.
Religion is telling us that love, peace, fraternity, and happiness are signs that one has the “right time”; that hatred, turmoil, violence, and restlessness, are signs of having the “wrong time.” If an impartial observer, no matter what is view on abortion might be, could stand above the fray, he could rightly determine who has the “right time” and who has the “wrong time.”

  • + + (Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus, St. Jerome’s University, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College. He is a regular columnist for St. Austin Review and is the author of 41 books. He is a former corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy of Life. Some of his recent books, The 12 Supporting Pillars of the Culture of Life and Why They Are Crumbling, Glimmers of Hope in a Darkening World, and Restoring Philosophy and Returning to Common Sense, are posted on amazon.com. His two latest books are Let Us not Despair and The Road to a Better World. He and his wife, Mary, have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.)
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