I just got back from a talk at Boston College given by George Weigel. He spoke on Wojtyla and the philosophers. It was the keynote address of a two-day conference on the philosophy of John Paul. Weigel's talk was like a biography of John Paul as a philosopher. John Paul taught at the Catholic University of Lublin, which was the only place from Berlin to Seoul during the Cold War where a truly free academic climate flourished.
Weigel spoke of so many profound ideas that it's hard to grasp all of them. Here's one of them: John Paul taught about ethics and the person. He said that moral acts are real acts of real people with real consequences. He explored how the choices we make, for good or evil, make us into the kinds of persons we are. What an important message for us today. Arguments for abortion, for example, have been promoted heavily through rhetoric about choice, as if the mere fact of making a choice is the only thing that matters, and not what we in fact are choosing. But if we choose evil, we become evil, and if we choose good, we become good. If I choose to push an old lady into the street and steal her pocketbook, that act affects my character. If I choose to help an old lady carry her groceries home, that act alaso affects my character. One act doesn't make a character, but many acts, repeated over time, shape a character.