Saturday, September 26, 2009

The State is No Substitute for You

This is for those who insist that Pope Benedict XVI does not understand the dangers of the welfare state. Writing in his encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," which to the Latin-challenged means "God is Love," the Pope writes:

“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person — every person — needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need . . . . In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) — a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human”

The emphasis is mine, because that is the crux of many arguments between conservatives and progressives over the relationship between men and government. Progressives believe that rights devolve out of social arrangements -- the State -- and are constantly in flux with the needs of the whole. Classic conservatives -- perhaps I should refer to them as libertarian -- believe that all rights come from God, are given to each of us as individuals as a birthright, and that each of us has the responsibility -- call it free will -- to exercise those rights.

And while we may lend or even cede some of these precious rights voluntarily through freely chosen decisions, none of our individual rights and responsibilities can be taken from us by force without violating the arrangement we have with God.

But, you may counter, a majority of people on this planet do not have this understanding, and certainly they do not enjoy the individual freedoms of Americans. How can you reconcile your beliefs with this reality?

And I will answer, just because the history of mankind is awash with the abrogation of God-given rights does not justify any of it. Evil allowed to flourish, even for the most benign or beneficial of reasons, is still evil and perhaps is even a greater evil because it presumes to call itself "good." God will deal with all of this in His own good time.

We, on the other hand, have been given a set of tremendous blessings and responsibilities by an enlightened and inspired group of founding fathers who recognized God's hand in the creation of these United States. We must relearn the wisdom of the founding and meet the challenge of defending individual liberties for all Americans from those who would strip them from us and our posterity.

For if freedom dies in America, it may be a long time before it blooms again anywhere else.

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