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October 19, 2022
- A Microsoft survey of 10,000 consumers found that the worldwide annual cost of identity theft and phishing could be as high as $5 billion – and the cost of repairing damage to people’s reputation online could be even higher: up to $6 billion, with the 10,000 consumers polled by Microsoft losing an average of $632.
The chances are very good that we all know someone in our family and/or circle of friends who have been a victim of identity theft. Many of us have been ourselves, victimized by unscrupulous people stealing credit card numbers, bank accounts, or other forms of identity theft. We hear in the media of data attacks on major corporations, computer systems being hijacked through Ransome-Ware, etc. The great cost goes way beyond the loss of billions of dollars a year, there is also the great cost of fear and distrust. With good reason, we cautiously open our emails, answer our phones, read text messages or in other ways respond to inquiries from people we do not know.
However costly these areas of financial identity theft may be, they pale in comparison to the greatest theft of identity. In an earlier article I wrote about our being true to our image of God (c.f. Mirror Image, Oct. 14, 2022) in understanding that we exist in the image of God. And, while in our mortal state, we are incapable of fully appreciating our true image of God, we have insights that direct us toward God. The Apostle, St. John, writes in his Gospel and in his letters of the true image of God as one of love and mercy. “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1Jn 4:7-13.
Since the dawn of creation, the Evil One has made every attempt to divide us, separate us from our true self – the image of God. From the dawn of creation, the One True God has sought to keep humanity in a faithful and loving relationship between the Divine and the human. It may seem to be more prevalent on a global basis today than in prior ages, but I suspect that this has more to do with our era of instant global communication than any statistical data. Every age, every civilization, every culture has its history of wars, crime and oppression. While humanity was and continues to be created in the image of God; since sin entered the human arena through the human will we have suffered a fractured nature. St. Paul refers to the constant internal conflict between our spiritual and fleshly natures. Much of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans concerns itself with this constant conflict, and where the hope of relief lies (c.f. Rom 7:15-20, 24-25). Yet, while human society exists within a constant conflict of wills, the world is in far greater danger than ages past.
Technology has shrunk the world. Oceans no longer protect, mountains are no barriers, distances once measured in months are now trans versed in minutes. Ideas that used to be filtered by reflection and challenge in the ivory towers of academia, are now being promoted without question by those unwilling to think beyond a desire to believe. This promotes and drives an identity theft more insidious, eviler than any financial loss. What is being stolen is more than money, reputation, or personal information. What is being stolen is our fundamental human ability to reason; our God given obligation to seek truth; even unpopular truth. Today, more than ever, millions of people across all cultures, genders, ethnicities, and generations have lost their identity as a child of God because they have abandoned the very idea of God. How is this possible?
An extreme example of this is the “conspiracy theorist”. I am not speaking of someone purposely spreading a lie to misdirect the innocent, I am speaking of the millions of people who actually believe in conspiracies even though there is no credible evidence to support the theory. Their belief is often rooted in a basic distrust of institutions, and an unwillingness to question or challenge the theory. The only “truth” lies in the theory’s correlation to an already pre-conceived idea.
Many people of all educational levels argue that “truth” is relative, there is no “universal truth”. The current will of society determines the social truth of the day. In part, our democratic system of government is predicated on this model; i.e., the will of the majority. If enough people say abortion is not murder, well then it must not be murder. If a majority of citizens believe that racial segregation is necessary for maintaining the supremacy of white society; well; it must be true. Allowing the will to believe becomes the measuring rod of truth; opens the gates of our soul to the greatest thief of all – Satan.
How are we to know the truth, how do we protect ourselves from this type of identity theft? In science, there is a fidelity to method, inquiry, testing and retesting. Sometimes science can only demonstrate the reasonableness or unreasonableness of a theory and there is room for further investigation. The social sciences in this instance, are no different than the physical sciences. In the arena of human behavior, we are basically left to choose one of two options: There is a universal moral truth; There is no universal moral truth. If opt for the latter, then Satan has won. If we decide for the former, then we are left to question how we can know what this universal moral truth is.
There are professors of moral theory that argue for the notion of relative morality (no universal moral truth), but there are those who do not. It is easy to accept the argument that theologians associate the universal moral truth with God. There are the secularists who argue that truth can only be found in objectivity, the truly “objective observer”. For the religious, this objective observer is God, or some divinely inspired spirit. For Christians, God is the objective observer, but his Son, Jesus the Christ is the revelation of God’s moral laws. The Scriptures are the written communication of God’s universal moral code. The simplest test of a moral truth is deciding whether an action, a word, or a belief unites or divides. God loves with total and universal equanimity every human person ever to be conceived. Any law, belief, notion or attitude that denies this universal reality, this universal truth, comes from Satan! St. John cannot say is any more plainly:
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he whom does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also. (1Jn 4:20-21 RSV Catholic Version.)
There are companies around the world making billions of dollars fighting against malware, computer viruses, and all forms of identity theft. God offers a free service – PRAYER.