Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Greater Good of All

Malachi 3:1-5

1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

It's so important to remember that the Lord speaks to us in many ways. Many times, it's easy to forget that our actions will be judged in the end...and when you're judged, how do you plan to answer the Lord's inquiries? 

On another subject, when we examine political parties and their causes, let's look at the things they view as important. Function, intent, and context matter. Republicans claim that they are the party of Christians...they claim they care about the poor and working class, while at the same time, we see from the evidence that the party does not. Now don't get me wrong...there are A LOT of very generous Republicans out there, and I applaud them for their generosity, and believe they truly desire the world that Adam Smith described, which was natural liberty through moral living. I believe in this ideal too, bu the real world has taught me better. Part of me wonders, however, if Adam Smith was speaking very idealistically, and was envisioning a form of personal governance that was described by Biblical texts in the context of "The 1000 year reign" or something to that affect...where man is perfectly moral and fair, and labor isn't cheated by the lowest possible price. Where exchange is mutual and beneficial to all. But anyway, I digress...when you look at the ideologies of the political parties, and you read what they're about...then you look at the actions they're trying to take, remember that government is FOR THE PEOPLE more than anything else. A government that doesn't care about it's people, that leaves them hanging in a cruel world filled with vultures and roaring beasts that seek to consume them like they're part of the Darwinian food chain, are no friend to the working class or to the poor. 

Put yourself into the position of the poor for a moment. When you see a poor person begging for handouts so they can survive...what is your first thought? Is it "get a job." or "he's just gonna buy booze or drugs." or perhaps it's "Why doesn't he go to Social Services." And I'll admit...sometimes I think those things too, and it's something I am working on in myself. But sometimes, it's easier and more powerful for us as a nation to systematically solve the problems causing homelessness rather than to put a band-aid on it by giving. 

Homelessness is a systematic problem in society, and requires systematic fixes to solve. Some are cultural, some are political, and some are economic. For poverty and homelessness, it will take a systematic restructuring of the social safety net to get these folks the help they need. Inconsistent, irregular, generosity-based assistance helps a bit, but it's not a permanent solution to the problem because generosity is fleeting, the income is too inconsistent, and the institution itself is usually skating on thin ice constantly balancing it's own existence with the help it gives to others. Tax-payer funded assistance to poverty and homelessness can help us put these people into jobs, homes, and eventually, self-sustaining incomes.For as large a nation as we are, how do we even have as much homeless as we have? How do we boast the best medical system in the world, but have the lowest life-expectancy of of the western nations, and how do we have the largest economy in the known world, but have such an unfair share of the pie being divided up to the people who make that pie in the first place? Down below is a verse that should shed some light. For those who go "Government isn't in the business of charity, or shouldn't be in the business of charity," you may want to look at yourself and say that. Government shouldn't pay for your education either, shouldn't pay for the roads you drive on, the police that protect you, the army that defends you, or the fire department to put your house-fire out. These types of things are things that we as citizens have decided that we should collectively pay for because they're more power in that collectivism than leaving it to individuals. 

There is no Biblical basis for the belief that "welfare" or poverty programs or social programs are evil or immoral or unfair. It's important to remember that if you were in that situation, and had no where to go...where would you go to survive? The answer for you would society. I truly believe that our entire society, for the most part, believes in "do unto others." and "love thy neighbor." I think it's going to take more persuasion that such notions can exist in the political sphere, and should be an integral part of our national system and together as citizens, with a little shared sacrifice and compassion, we can create a system where people don't free fall into street living, where people who are devastated by circumstances beyond their control can get the help they need without having to beg and plead for charity which may or may not be available for them.

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