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Thomas Aquinas and angry American voters


Americans, a goodly number of them anyway, are angry. Opinion polls and both parties’ primaries are evidence of that. But will this anger be put to good use or squandered? At the moment, squandering appears the better bet.

A passage I stumbled across while reading around in Josef Pieper’s wonderful little book The Four Cardinal Virtues got me thinking about these matters. Pieper, a philosopher of note in his own right, was a brilliant expositor of St. Thomas Aquinas whose deeply Thomistic virtue book is a masterpiece.

Still, someone might reasonably ask what does the 13th century Angelic Doctor can possibly have to say to 21st century America? Judge for yourself. Here’s the passage from Pieper, in a chapter on the cardinal virtue of temperance, that caught my attention:

“The combination of the intemperateness of lustfulness with the lazy inertia incapable of generating anger is the sign of complete and virtually hopeless degeneration. It appears whenever a caste, a people, or a whole civilization is ripe for its decline and fall.”

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