The tidal wave of our toys, from iPods to the Internet, is equally effective in getting us to ignore history and ignore our own emptiness. The struggle for real human freedom depends upon the struggle for human history. Unlike the ideologies that deny the importance of the past and the present and focus on the illusions of a perfect future, Christianity sees the most important moments of the human story to be the past event of the Incarnation and the present moment of my individual opportunity to love.
I have a colleague who asks his students in a freshman level class to come up with a "perfect society." Three times I have been asked to judge their presentations. The students are quite creative and earnest. But their "perfect societies" have some commonalities. In order to reach "perfection" they must destroy human freedom or ignore human sin. Either citizens are forced to fit a preconceived notion of perfection, or it is assumed that people are naturally good and left to their own devices things will work out splendidly. I do not mean to criticize the students, who are after all just completing an assignment. But it does give us a window into the ultimate emptiness of progressive politics, best exemplified by Herbert Croly's claim, "For better or worse, democracy cannot be disentangled an an aspiration toward human perfectibility." Christians and the American Founders (I do not wish to conflate the two) thought differently, best expressed by Madison's admonition in Federalist #51 that we are a government of men over men, not a government of angels by angels, so we must take into account human self-interest, not wish it away. We are best served by lowering our expectations for our politics. The same colleague mentioned above said to me yesterday that one year he had a group of students who refused to create a "perfect society." They settled for a "good enough" society. That works for me.