“Just solutions…must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs. The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.” - Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development (as printed in the May 16th issue of “The Christian Century.”)
How many times have we heard the expression, “not in my backyard” regarding the location of a halfway house, waste water plant or anything else deemed unattractive or unpleasant by our society? With a bit of tweaking, the saying could apply to the statement above made by Bishop Blaire: “not in my wallet!”
As disconcerting as it is, it is equally true. Many of us who see the failure of meeting moral criteria in the practice of politics donʼt want to make the sacrifices necessary to make a difference in the pursuit of real justice. We donʼt want to pay the personal cost . We rely on our government to decide who gets the cookies – the services and necessities – and who doesnʼt. Some have termed this “distribution of wealth,” others “redistribution of wealth.” It is clear that this happens; it is just a matter of what kind, how much, when, and who gets and who gives. In reality we do pay a personal cost and we must make some sacrifices.
I could do some quick and easy proof-texting here (To whom much is given, much is required,” Luke 12:48, and “…no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.” Acts 4:32 for example) to bolster the position I am about to take, but that wouldnʼt be…fair, ethical, “right” … and those virtues are at the heart of the criteria, I assume, the Bishop is
expressing in the opening statement as moral. If this is the case, it would be helpful if each of us would ask ourselves what “moral” means to us. The thesaurus on my computer came up with the following synonyms: ethical, good, right, honest, decent, proper, honorable, just. Okay, so now, what meaning have these words for you?
I donʼt expect you to take much time answering that one, but I believe the majority of us desire a country, a government, a society that is all of the above no matter how we might define them. What I wonder is, how differently are they defined? I alluded to my general understanding a few weeks ago in one of my Sunday morning messages. The foundation for my definition of these words is that which benefits the
greater good. Can you argue with that? If you can, please do so; Iʼm always interested in growing in my understanding!
This is an election year. I havenʼt hidden many of my personal opinions. Iʼm not asking you to share them. I am asking you to examine your own values, beliefs desires and, yes, your moral foundation, and then decide what actions you need to take to ensure them. For me, until you convince me differently, that means advancing that which benefits the greater good even if it costs me something personally.
I hope Iʼm not kidding myself. I hope you arenʼt kidding yourself as well.