A Turning Inward

February 13, 2014

In tracing this economy back to its roots, we note a prevailing concern: there is a turning inward whereby one provides for one’s own. This tendency begins with the individual and extends to the family, community, and nation.

The origin of this turning inward comes from man’s natural desire to express his personality and originality. To do this, he draws from and vigorously develops those God-given qualities and possibilities that make him unique and unmistakable in the order of creation.*

"This turning inward contrasts sharply with the modern notion of individualism..." Photo by Ed Yourdon

“This turning inward contrasts sharply with the modern notion of individualism…” Photo by Ed Yourdon

This turning inward contrasts sharply with the modern notion of individualism in which individuals close themselves up in the world of their own self-interest and then turn outward, becoming part of the masses to avoid complete isolation.

On the contrary, when individuals express their individuality in an organic order, they delve deeply within themselves as a means of developing a self-assurance, which allows them to stand out and define themselves unambiguously in society. They have principles, certainty, independence, and dignity. They are not part of the masses or slaves of public opinion.

Charity by Frederick Morgan

Charity by Frederick Morgan

Such persons have the means to perceive the meaning of their lives and how they fit into society. They make use of small social units, especially the family, to help properly develop their personality and, in turn, they impart something of their own character on the social groups to which they belong.

Place de la Concorde by Friedrich Perlberg

Place de la Concorde by Friedrich Perlberg

Extending this notion of turning inward yet further, we can say that social groups, as moral entities, can also seek a similar expression of their unique character. Villages, parishes, institutions, academies, and families all have the capacity to draw from and develop their own qualities springing from the vibrant richness of their members. From this development, each social group finds its own path, which later can give rise to the birth of cultures and civilizations.


* See Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, II, 45; Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, q. 47, a. 2; I, q. 50, a. 4.


John Horvat, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 271-2.


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