Daniel Boland Ph. D.




Daniel Boland Ph. D.

Photo by Robert Phelps





Commentaries and observations about the conflicting moral beliefs and psychological issues facing our culture.



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13 March 2023


What I’ve Learned

My years are sufficient to qualify me as an elder. As such, I believe many of us elders have learned worthy lessons over our lifetimes. So, with due respect, I wish to share a few I’ve learned. If you disagree, I welcome your comments. I hasten to add that age is not the sole criterion for learning life’s lessons. It’s not merely our length of days which renders age honorable or bestows maturity. Nor is the number of our years the measure of anyone’s value.

Truths I’ve Come To Accept

First of all, I’ve learned that elderhood comes with a price. For example, there are days when gym workouts are extra tough; days when a grocery cart becomes a clumsy appendage; nights when the pillow is lumpier than in years past; nights when dreams and memories are not dreamt entirely in sleep.

But these are minor inconveniences, not problems. So let me be clear: Aging affords insights into human nature which I did not appreciate in my earlier years. For instance, I’ve learned that:

  1. We do not know everything, even if we think we do;
  2. We are unwise not to listen to others and learn from them, even when we learn something which hurts our fragile egos.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that when we’re young and nimble, work, social life and myriad distractions help us to be needed and appreciated. As we age, socializing becomes less ebullient and distractions lose appeal. Wonderment (which many avoid for decades) re-emerges from that part of our mind which never fully forgets; that place in our heart’s memory which struggles to quiet our fears; that part of our soul from which none of us is ever distant – even when we try.

Vagaries Of Our Years

I’ve learned that gratitude to God is the best choice for young and old. Gratitude helps us be ever-more aware of the precious quality of life. Even that pause between heartbeats merits our gratitude.

Think about it: merely being aware that I am alive is a miraculous event. When I wake each morning in darkness, I realize I am indeed alive to a new day. Gratitude to God becomes inescapable, and I’m conscious of the fact that:

  • I have been given the gift of a new dawn, as light inches through the leaves outside my window and softly greets me;
  • My cat, Gypsy, taps gently on the pillow to wake me for her breakfast;
  • My life has, once again, been renewed for another day, and I thank God for this astonishing miracle of life;
  • Then, I rise and follow Gypsy to her bowl where, in our separate ways, we celebrate this new day as yet another gift in God’s countless life-long gifts.

Living Honorably

Our striving to live an honorable life is heightened when we express our gratitude to God for so many gifts; when we take nothing for granted, admit our essential fragility, accept the inevitable ambiguities and mysteries of life, and gratefully respect creation’s limits, including our own.

To live an honorable life means we extend kindness and patience to the uncaring, the uncommunicative, the indifferent; to those in denial and evasive self-delusion; to self-proclaimed “victims” awash in self-pity and anger; even those who treat us disdainfully – while we tenaciously preserve our faith.

Living honorably is a daily struggle for virtue (even in elderhood). It is a struggle we must daily renew with a prayer for self-restraint and perseverance, proceeding always in hopeful gratitude to God – while we tenaciously preserve our faith.

Revelation, Tradition, history and common sense tell us these are the traits of a life well-lived, no matter the number of years living it or the cost we pay to tenaciously preserve our faith!

Maturity And Stability

Another thought: I have been a psychologist for well over a half-century. I’ve seen every variety of "mental health," from debilitating psychoses to the “normal” oddities - the quirks, idiosyncrasies and mildly neurotic tics - we all possess. I’ve learned that psychological health and maturity are connected in folks who (most of the time) have these traits in working order:

  • emotional and mental ability to sustain relationships without undue conflict;
  • concern not to violate the common good,
  • respect for mutual rights and responsibilities,
  • self-restraint, altruism and empathy, without cruelty or bullying others, without betrayal or revenge;
  • regard for truth, justice and obedience to just laws,
  • a value system grounded in objective moral norms.

These standards are the bases of every stable culture and every humane society. A stable culture (and its subdivisions, such as schools and businesses) accepts these standards. They become the invisible “glue” which binds stable societies. They also create universal expectations which underlie just laws, family life, church, education, politics, business, etc.

The fact that behavior has consequences is also a moral concern for healthy societies and mature citizens. Today, consequences are fleeting, as laws are shredded. This undercuts the “glue” of civic responsibility and moral stability. The result is lawlessness. See this link: The Price of Eliminating Consequences (

Thus, I’ve learned that no society survives without a moral core and its practical applications to civic life.

Conscience And Moral Maturity

But what does “moral” mean?

It’s honoring and respecting ourselves and one another as individuals and communities. True morality is inspired by our healthy relationship with our Creator - as we tenaciously preserve our faith. Let me explain...

I’ve learned that we are born with the potential to understand what’s right and wrong, to know and to choose good over evil. This is the role of “conscience,” a word which means “with knowledge.” Conscience means we know what we’re doing.

Obviously, some adults lose their moral edge and thoughtlessly disregard the dignity or needs of others. That’s why moral cultures reinforce (ultimately, for their survival) the fundamental dictate of morality: ‘Do good and avoid evil.”

At birth, conscience (which is our reservoir of moral learning) is unformed and untutored, but primed to be educated. We’re dependent upon adults in word and example, so the formation of conscience is greatly influenced by the quality and content of instruction and example in early life.

The objective norm of morality - and the hallmark of maturity and civility - is the educated conscience of the person who learns and observes God-given, universal standards of right and wrong, good and evil.

Evil is rebellion against these standards. Evil is our choice to ignore our responsibilities to our Creator and one another.

What Standards

In our Judeo-Christian culture, these standards are found (for starters) in the Ten Commandments and in the virtues, traditions and truths revealed to us over centuries. These are our best sources of both objective morality and adult maturity because:

  • The enduring lessons of Scripture, especially the Beatitudes and the Parables of Christ, echo human behavior at its best.
  • The specifics of right behavior are spelled out in the Moral Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. These are behavioral guidelines which direct us in our civic and social relationships with one another.
  • The Theological Virtues - Faith, Hope and Charity - are personal virtues which guide our choices for good over evil and direct us in our relationship with God.

I’ve learned that true morality is not - is not - subjective. Contrary to today’s myths, true morality is not - is not - found in how we “feel,” nor in distorted fads, nor in moral relativism which engulfs our nation and strangles our moral awareness.

The moral person 1) knows and does what is right in word and deed - even when it’s difficult, and 2) avoids saying or doing evil, even when the “in-group” says otherwise.

When we do not follow these objective moral guidelines, God is banished. Life is chaotic. Violence emerges and truth is rebuffed. The first law of society becomes, “Don’t get caught.”

Cultural Considerations

I’ve learned that in our personal lives and in our culture, adult “normalcy” and maturity always suffer when we ignore and evade truth. Two common strategies are “denial” and “avoidance.”

Originally, denial and avoidance were attributed to addicted persons who won’t face their addiction, who explain it away and continue to feed it, as they deny responsibility and avoid sobriety.

Today, addictive behavior abounds with us “normal” people in our dependency on cell phones, TV sets and other modern devices. These seem benign because they’re common - but try one day without your cell phone.

Another example: Facts are clear - science, biology, history, tradition and common sense attest that there are two - and only two - sexes. Yet some “professionals” supply youngsters with life-altering drugs and surgeries - even though the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons condemns this practice.

Denial and avoidance by physicians, psychologists, teachers, even befuddled parents, have spawned irrational beliefs and barbaric practices which stifle America’s moral acuity.

Life, Anyone ?

I’ve recently learned that not everyone celebrates elderhood as a Godly gift. Some folks now propose we elders be encouraged to commit suicide. Some “experts” even push for compulsory elimination of elders.

Unfortunately, death as a solution to “unwanted” citizens, young and old, has become a common refrain. After all, our culture celebrates killing babies in the womb, for any reason. Some abortion adherents even argue for a period of 28-30 days after birth for taking the lives of healthy newborn infants (“perinatal” abortion of a thriving child, proposed in several States).

In addition, a committee of the Canadian parliament wants to expand Canada's assisted suicide program so "mature minors" may hasten their doctor-assisted suicides without parental consent. Given the number of immature adults in society, who would qualify as a “mature minor?

We have all learned to expect a measure of moral arrogance from self-appointed elites. But it is foreboding to hear leaders propose killing innocent persons for any reason. Killing innocent people is the saddest theme of history in our lifetimes – yet it’s here, now.

Of equal concern is widespread indifference to, and support of, this ongoing extermination of human life. This bespeaks a dearth of moral awareness and pernicious disregard for human life among our citizens. God knows where this trend will take us….

What Holds Us Together

What holds individuals and communities in stable order and balanced orbit? As Tevye says in “Fiddler On The Roof,” respect for tradition, which starts with our relationship with our Creator.

Some people disparage and dismiss our relationship with God. They speak of prayer as a foolish, dead-end monologue with a non-existent entity. The truth is God that speaks to us all the time through Creation, through our reason and our senses, through history and imagination and all that we have been given.

I’ve learned that Creation ceaselessly reveals God’s constant messages. Leaves on the trees, flights of birds, sunlight and shade, billions of planets speeding through space, the existence of life in each of us - each of us with beating heart, a mind to think, and free will to choose to say “Yes” to God . . . or “No.”

I’ve learned that God calls to us in ways too obvious to miss, too abundant to deny. He invites us to respond to His call – and that is our moment to communicate our gratitude in prayer. It is our moment to respond on our side of the relationship, our moment to enter into the divine dialogue. And it is a moment without end…

So, I’ve learned that our part in this divine dialogue begins with expressing our personal gratitude to God for all we’ve received, even our pain and doubt, which are designed to bring us to Him.


I am old enough to realize history’s repetitive lesson - that every civilized nation requires moral guideposts and stable traditions. Without these, nihilism, chaos and violence emerge.

Today, many people deny the lessons of history and science. Worse, they reject our historic Judeo-Christian traditions which (until recently) served as America’s guideposts, even in times of strife and contradiction - times when the worst in America arose.

I am old enough to realize that human nature is often blind to its weary penchant for moral error and historical folly. I realize that history repeats itself only when we reject history's messages and become so hardened of heart that we miss the need for gratitude.

The evidence of history is harsh but enlightening. It teaches us, in hopeful terms, that moral clarity and reconciliation are always available to us, always awaiting … if, that is, we will seek them.

Shall we do so? As a nation, shall we, once again, embrace moral clarity and seek reconciliation?

As “they” say, time - and the choices we make - will tell.