mean it.”rnMaterialism and consumism retard the development of thernhuman person. Just as we have been taught to regard nature asrnsomething “other” and objective, we have given ourselves thernsame treatment:rnThe drama of man today lies in this: with his degradationrnfrom subject to object, the objectivity of man getsrnmade equivalent to the objectivity of nature. Man is notrnin a position to exercise his own spiritual capacities thatrnelevate him above nature…. He withers and runs thernrisks of going soft and dying.rnIt is in this context, of human degradation, that Zampettirntakes up the question of pollution, wresting it away from thernspecialists who have not searched for the cause and finding thernM an is ultimately thernproper subject of anyrndiscussion of the environment,rnbecause it is the interior manrnwho makes the decisions whichrnshape the world.rnanswer he is looking for in a passage from St. Mark (7:15-23):rnThere is nothing from without a man, that entering intornhim can defile him: but the things which come out ofrnhim, those are they that defile the man… . For fromrnwithin, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts,rnadulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness,rnwickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy,rnpride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within,rnand defile the man.rnZampetti observes that this passage might have been directedrnat modern man, who pollutes himself by misusing his liberty.rn”Pollution of the spirit (greed, adultery, murder, egoism …) orrnmoral pollution is the cause of the pollution of the body and,rneven though in a different way, of the pollution of nature.” Thernreal question, he argues, is the degradation not of nature but ofrnman, and he cites as examples the spread of drugs and AIDS:rnDrugs are not called a plague, because he who takesrnthem does so freely and thereby becomes sick voluntarily,rnas opposed to those who contract other diseases. Butrnthen the same argument can be applied to AIDS, whichrnis actually the fruit of drug addiction and homosexuality.rnWe could say that both are social plagues that resultrnfrom man’s poverty of being and to the drying uprnof the spirit.rnMan is ultimately the proper subject of any discussion of thernenvironment, because it is the interior man who makes the decisionsrnwhich shape the world, “Drugs do not exist, but therndrug addict. AIDS does not exist, but the man who has contractedrnthe disease. The polluted sea does not exist, but manrnwho, with the economic-productive system directed toward thernsatisfaction of individualistic interests, has polluted the sea.rnMan, man, and again man.” Zampetti concludes his analysis ofrnpollution by declaring that “man is dying together with societyrnand nature” and calling for a diagnosis that will enable man tornsave himself—and society and nature as well—from destruction.rnI shall not follow the philosopher in his ambitious proposalsrnfor reconstructing society, not because they are uninteresting orrnimpossibly Utopian. They are neither. But if modern man hadrnshown the slightest inclination toward common sense, hernwould not be where he is today. Oh, we all talk as though werncared about what kind of world we lived in. We complainrnabout the low level of political morality and then go out andrnvote for Bob Dole. We say we want our children to be educated,rnand then we send them to public school. We may even sayrnwe believe in God, but on Sunday we end up at the golf coursernor some ex-Calvinist church that reassures us that it is now OKrnto murder our children. Treat the fair words of man the consumerrnjust as you would treat the pretty speech of a glandularrnteenage boy saying “I love you” to your daughter.rnConsumism was the religion of Sodom, and if that city wasrnnot treated to a plague, it was destroyed by the fire and brimstonernthat fuel the industries of the modern cities of the plain.rnIn those days, only one righteous man was found, though evenrnhis wife pined for the soft life of the French Quarter and arnhouse in Georgetown. I used to hope that what man had done,rnhe could undo, but the greatest mischief we have done is tornourselves, in destroying our capacity for leading a normal lifernand settling for everyday pleasures and duties. Birthday partiesrnand good old books. Telling the old stories one more time andrnfishing with tackle that did not advertise our net worth. Livingrnin a world where walking made sense, because the stretchrnbetween here and there was more interesting than either herernor there.rnWe are all caught up in it, I as much as you as much as they,rnand if we actually made ourselves happier in destroying thernplanet, I might say: go ahead. There is a scrap of Greek versernwhich goes, “When I am dead, let the earth be mixed with fire.rnI’ll no longer care.” When someone quoted it to the emperorrnNero, he emended the first line to “While I’m alive.” That’srnthe stuff. The worst of the Caesars—spoiled punks like Nero,rnCaligula, and Commodus—would fit right into the youth culturernof the past 30 years, except Nero and Caligula had bothrnbeen given an education. Gorged and dulled by the endless cyclernof titillation and satiety, these “troubled youths” of ancientrnRome turned to violence, when gluttony and fornication grewrnstale. Those who pursue pleasure for its own sake become impotentrnin the face of life. Life is already Hell for many Americansrn—five minutes of television should be enough to convincerna sane man. But nothing lasts forever, not the towers of Babelrnor the dark Satanic mills. Lot escaped from Sodom with at leastrnsome of his family, and the reconstruction of the personal—^likernalmost everything else of value—begins at home.rn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn