The word discernment usually is used in regard to Christianity when a man or woman is deciding whether or not to enter the religious life. Reference Wikipedia! However, by definition from the Webster dictionary it means the perception, penetration, insight and acumen to analyze anything. Discernment stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or untrue or appropriate. Perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment. Penetration implies a searching mind which goes beyond what is obvious or superficial. Insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy. Acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment.
One of the times we always use ‘Discernment’ is when we meet new people. We will try to determine their character almost immediately. You try to determine if you will be a friend or you will avoid them. You try to develop skills in doing this and learn from experience - both good and bad. You apply what you have read and experienced about people’s actions and appearances. You know you will not be friends with someone who is a drunk; someone who uses profanity constantly, someone who has tattoos all over his body or wears his pants six inches lower than his waist. And the list goes on and on. How do we know this? Obviously, we learn by experience and from others (mostly our parents).
One advantage of old age is the experience you have which others can only read about. I was born and raised in the depression; I lived through Word War ll, I fought as a Marine in the Korean War; I witnessed the attempt at, and failure of, socialism by Fidel Castro. No matter how much one may read about this it will never equate to living it. Age has its downside, but it has its advantages. We have lived through a lot of bad decisions and experiences, and hopefully, we have learned from them. We are not inclined to make the same mistake again and again. We have learned to be careful. We have learned to investigate, and most of all, we have learned the value of discernment. What bothers this writer in his old age is why in the world others appear to not discern at all? As an example, If I will see an attractive young woman walking down the street holding hands with a guy, who, if you met him in the evening on a deserted street, would cause you to reach for your concealed carry. If you met the woman by herself, she would not be one you would invite to join you for lunch. Of course, we cannot judge. I have witnessed several couples like this. One time a few years ago, a couple arrived at their destination in front of a building near me, and she entered while he stood outside holding her purse. She had set him up! She exited the back of the building with his money for drugs and he ended up with an empty homemade purse. .He certainly needed to practice some discernment. .
I see even intelligent people lapping up the Global Warming propaganda provided by politician Al Gore and ignoring scientists from 14 universities who published articles stating Global Warming has nothing to do with human activity. In fact, humans cannot change Global Warming even if they want to change it. And, with all of the Fake News being given out by the newspapers and television, people still eat it up even though they are aware of Fake News. Why are people not learning? Why are they not analyzing? Why are they not discerning?
Discerning the answers to these questions has not been easy. Some people claim part of it is the over use of and dependence on smart phones. With them you do not need to discern anything. You just ask your phone. You do not need to think anymore. In some ways I believe this claim. Although answers on smart phones may be opinions rather than facts, the users do not use them in this manner. Many children and adults depend on their phones and will not pursue the truth.
Another problem is the high percentage of people who have left their faith in recent years and no longer have the knowledge of the spiritual truth to use in discernment. Most of those who have left their faith were not properly catechized or never catechized at all. They never received the proper information to enable them to discern the real truth in their analysis of a situation. This is an enormous problem in many ethical and religious situations. A good example is how those who have left the faith would discern laws which allow doctors and hospitals the final say when it comes to treatment of patients who cannot speak for themselves. The recent decision in England which doomed Alfie Evans is brought to mind. There are many other examples.
Another big factor affecting discernment is the propensity of the leftist group to use words to distort the true meaning of a subject. As examples: a firearm is called an Assault Weapon, abortion is called a Woman’s Choice, a socialist is called Bi-Partisan, border security is called Racism, capitalism is called Greed, confiscation and redistribution by the government is called Investment, thinking for yourself is called Judge-mentalism, a socialist is called a Liberal, liberty is called a Loophole, anyone who is not rich and is a socialist is called poor, And the worse thing a business can do is to make a profit, depriving poor of cash. Is it any wonder a young person has a difficult task trying to discern what the socialists are saying and what they are doing? The leftists are becoming all-too predictable in their avocation of socialism and their arrogance, imperiousness, and low regard for human life.
Teachers are finding it harder to teach. In some schools every student passes, no matter what. There is a higher drop-out rate among students who attend public schools, mostly because they do not bother to go to school. Shouldn’t there be some discernment going on here by the public school system? Shouldn’t the schools teach these children the value of education, etc.? How about discerning the value of Home Schooling and supporting it? One Home School advocate asked a parish priest why he did not advocate home schooling in his homilies, etc. He answered, “Because the teachers are professional teachers.” The advocate, who was also a home schooling mother, asked, “Who do you think taught these children from the time they were born until the time they entered school? Have you compared the achievements of the home schooled student vs the schools system student? In other words, he had not discerned and he had to agree with the woman and changed his attitude and policies.
A huge increase in the number of fatherless children is another problem. Shouldn’t there be some discernment by our church leaders and politicians as to the cause of this problem and then some discernment on how to fix it?
How about these people with agenda such as abortion and gun control? They will put out the fake news by the hour. Some of the news is demonstrations rigged up to make their point. The most obvious agenda is the terrible distortion of the facts of abortion and the statement that a woman has the right to terminate the life of her own baby. This is the mantra of the abortion industry and feminist groups. If you practice a little discernment you can tell they are lying about the life of the baby, describing it as only a group of cells, not a human being. They do not tell people the baby has a beating heart within one month after conception. It is a human being in a stage of development. The tragedy of abortion to the mothers and to our country is enormous. Over 60 million babies have been aborted in the US. Our church leaders simply accept the agenda of the pro-x aborts and go along with it. Again, there is no discernment. Take a look at what happened to China after they enforced a one-child-per-family limit. China now has a serious imbalance in the sexes because of female selection for abortion. There are now tens of millions of men in China who are unable to find wives, who are left listless, directionless, and hopeless. The Post identifies four negative outcomes of this gender imbalance: 1) An epidemic of loneliness and depression among men; 2) Soaring housing prices and other economic consequences as men compete for a dwindling population of eligible women; 3) A growth in human trafficking and wife-buying, and 4) A growth in sexual harassment and other criminal behavior. In addition, China has ended up with a country of old people with no younger generation to support them.
A good example of the “generation of an agenda” is the thoughtless effort by some liberals to cancel out the 2nd amendment. They have not discerned what happens when only the government has arms. They have not lived through World War II and the Korean War when, thankfully, many men entered the military already knowledgeable in the use of firearms. As an example of the overreaction of liberals, when one AR rifle is misused by a mentally unstable person, tell us all owners of AR rifles are guilty, so we need to get rid of the 2nd amendment, etc. If they would practice some discernment they would realize punishing eight million gun owners because a mentally unstable person used a gun is not logical at all. If someone rams a car into a crowd killing people, we blame the driver -- not the car. If someone assaults a person on the street, we blame the attacker -- not the knife or club. If someone flies a plane into a building, we blame the pilot -- not the airplane. But, if someone uses a gun, they blame the gun. Really! This is insane. These people are either crazy or have an agenda or both. It is not only the attackers who are mentally unstable, so are the news writers and others pushing this agenda! Do they discern and realize some of the cities which have the strictest gun laws also have the highest crime rate? Do they realize if you take all the guns away from honest citizens, then only the criminals will have guns?
The saddest event, and most unreasonable propagation of a falsehood appears to be the transgender movement, which is being promoted on every level of our society. What is being promoted is the falsehood that people can be born into the wrong body. It is simply not true, and with proper discernment can be proven to be a lie. This falsehood is causing considerable harm both mentally and physically to many children. If they are put on puberty blockers and then on cross-sex hormones this will permanently sterilize most of them and put them at risk of heart disease, cancers and diabetes. Even as adults, men and women must be treated in accordance with their biology and not their perception of their bodies. Surprisingly, there are many people who believe they are amputees trapped in a normal body. Those who wish to cut off their arm or leg are diagnosed with a mental illness; however, if a man wished to cut off healthy genitals or a woman cut off healthy breasts, they would be classified as a transgender. That is no diagnosis. Discernment is ignored. The doctors ignored the fact that sex was in the DNA, and mutilating the body does not change a person’s sex. The doctors changed the meaning of the word “gender” and said it is a social expression of internal sex identity. With only a little discernment we know women have two X chromosomes and men have both X & Y chromosomes. There are 6,500 genetic differences between men and women. One cannot change sex by cutting off testicles or breasts, or performing any other disfigurement. Gender is now only a social term causing untold harm.
Transgenderism is the greatest falsehood of all and is being propagated by some medical professionals as well as the liberal media and Hollywood. Why is our society so willing to accept this and all of the other propaganda such as climate change, gun control, socialism and even the killing of 60 million unborn? What has changed so much in our society? Why will society not look more deeply into the falsehoods propagated by so few? We pay a high price for scientific illiteracy and the inability of journalists to understand anything even slightly complex. Why will people not discern this negative situation? It is because we no longer listen to our church leaders? Or maybe it is because some of our church leaders have lost their faith and have failed to discern the truth. Remember that God is the truth and God is the way.
This article began with how the word ‘discernment’ is used. Now look at the word itself. The word ‘discern‘ is made up from two Latin words: dis = apart, and cernere = to separate. The definition then comes to mean to separate, or pull apart, ideas, objects, or even persons, from each other. This separateness has objectivity to it. Everyone, with a well-formed intellect, can look at the same things, whether these things are ideas, objects or persons, and come to the same conclusion. However, if the intellect is not well-formed then the discernment becomes a subjective decision and not based on objective reality. This faulty discernment can be illustrated by the example of the unborn child. One person sees the object, the unborn child, for exactly what it is: a child yet to be born. Another person can view this same object, the unborn child, as a “woman’s choice”, a “biological mass” or an “unwanted fetus”. The objective reality remains constant: an unborn child. The subjective apprehension of it differs depending on how well our respective intellects and/or consciences have been formed. Many baptized Catholics have not been catechized properly and make faulty decisions as a result.