The idea that “I can do, or be, anything if I put my mind to it” encourages people to strive for excellence and break down barriers.
But applying this individualistic mindset blindly to all areas of life – in particular, vocation and human relationships – is a recipe for disaster when it reduces those around us to objects that exist to fulfil our desires.
A woman cannot become a wife or mother “by herself” – she needs a man to marry her, and to father her children.
A man cannot become a priest “by himself” – he needs a seminary or Religious order to accept him, and a bishop to ordain him.
Our relationships and life vocations can only be discerned in community with others. Yet some reject this dependence on others – and the vulnerability that it brings – and claim the “right” to attain their dreams, no matter how impossible they are or how they might harm others.
But as Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, “Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives – themselves – only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for.” (‘In the Beginning…’: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall)
Christian life reminds us that we exist in relationship. The faith was passed down to us from our ancestors. We humbly accept baptism and the other sacraments being administered to us. No one can baptise or ordain himself, and no one can absolve his own sins – not even the pope!
And so Catholicism itself – which necessitates a community of faith – is perhaps one of the best bulwarks against self-centred ideologies of the human person.
Related link: Gender theory: a questionable view of the human person