We Are All Afflicted with Illusion
My present view--provisionally:
a. "The world," in the sense of collective myths and aspirations of contemporary society, is not to be unconditionally accepted or rejected, because whether we like it or not, we are all part of it and there is a sense in which it has to be accepted.
b. But I refuse an optimism that blesses all these myths and aspirations as "temporal values" and accepts all projects of man's society as good, progressive, and laudable efforts in which all are to cooperate. Here one certainly has to distinguish. War in Vietnam--no; civil rights--yes; and a huge area of uncertainties, official projects dressed up in approved inanities.
c. I am convinced of the sickness of American affluent society. To bless that sickness as a "temporal value" is something I absolutely refuse. Love of "the world" in this case means understanding and love of the millions of people afflicted by the sickness and suffering from it in various ways: compassion for them, desire to liberate them from their obsessions (how can anyone do it? We are all afflicted), to give them some measure of sanity and authenticity.
d. The error is in rejecting the sick and condemning them along with the sickness.
e. The only right way: to love and serve the man of the modern world, but not simply to succumb, with him, to all his illusions about the world.
April 30, 1958, III.198