Self-indulgence: Imaginative powers gone awry, subject to the yetzer hara (evil inclination).
It is written, “And G-D saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” Genesis 6:5). Thus, it is clear that the propensity of the imagination is inclined towards evil, unless put in check through our own efforts, accompanied by the grace of G-d. Today, there is much encouragement to indulge in the fantasies of the heart. This can lead to the greater evil of distancing ourselves from our own humanity, as a result of disobedience to G-d’s directives. For, it is written, that His commandments are for our own good.
Yet, sin has the effect of distancing us from G-d. So, when we let our imaginations run free, the result is that this indulgence draws us away from G-d. The metaverse is an extreme example of what might ultimately remove those who venture there from the norms of society and the framework of reality itself. The moors of society are already loosened, like a boat no longer tethered to the dock. The increase of personal freedom to do as one wishes, irrespective of a clear moral framework will lead to nihilism. And, yet, it can be argued that a sense of meaninglessness and purpose in life elicits this drift away from social norms, into a pleasure-driven life.
Moral restraint becomes a neglected virtue, and is seen as an obstacle to the philosophical notion of proclaiming the reign of human nature, indulging in one’s passions, as key to liberation from the bonds of society. In fact, this is an underlying Marxist principle, drawn from the architects of the so-called Age of Enlightenment that followed the French revolution. Thus, the opposition to religious norms that was widespread at that time, and manifested in violence to the church, transformed itself into new philosophical beliefs that would continue to diminish and undermine remaining godly values in society. This line of thought was continued by the neoMarxists of the Frankfort School, that became the New School of Social research at Columbia University.
According to Noelle Mering, these neoMaxists knew that through the corrosion of faith in societal norms, they could eventually undermine the stability of Western culture (Mering, Awake, Not Woke). Voices of influence such as Herbert Marcuse, Saul Alinsky, and Antonio Gramsci steered the rebellious generation of the sixties and seventies into the New Left, intent on undermining the institutions of society in this country from within. The amalgamation of movements and causes transformed the culture over time, leading to the Woke movement of today.
I am so saint; however, I recognize that taming the passions within myself leads to a focus on pleasing G-d, instead of myself. And, in turn, if I follow in the ways of the commandments, then I will be blessed with G-d’s graces. He is merciful, so that if I stray from the path, I will be guided back to Him. And, teshuvah (repentance) done in a sincere manner will bring back into His graces. As is written, “The L-RD, The L-RD G-d, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).