Pacem In Terris 97: A Cautionary Note

Does this cautionary note ring true, do you think? Read it:

97. It is worth noting, however, that these minority groups, in reaction, perhaps, to the enforced hardships of their present situation, or to historical circumstances, frequently tend to magnify unduly characteristics proper to their own people. They even rate them above those human values which are common to all (hu)mankind, as though the good of the entire human family should subserve the interests of their own particular groups. A more reasonable attitude for such people to adopt would be to recognize the advantages, too, which accrue to them from their own special situation. They should realize that their constant association with a people steeped in a different civilization from their own has no small part to play in the development of their own particular genius and spirit. Little by little they can absorb into their very being those virtues which characterize the other nation. But for this to happen these minority groups must enter into some kind of association with the people in whose midst they are living, and learn to share their customs and way of life. It will never happen if they sow seeds of disaffection which can only produce a harvest of evils, stifling the political development of nations.

This positive approach has not always brought benefit. I think of the Cherokee nation which embraced many aspects of Western culture, including Christianity. Before the Indian Removal Act, they had a higher rate of literacy than White Americans in Georgia.

I think some distinguishing features must be drawn between “disaffection,” which cannot be described solely in terms of the inconvenience of the dominant culture. Any minority group demanding rights will be a bother to those threatened by it, no matter how enlightened or polite the insistence.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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