Dan Wolf | Living Rightly
We’re all familiar with this year’s election issues. They include: the economy, jobs, taxes, the regulatory burden (all internal), and national security, the terrorism threat, border integrity, and rebuilding our military (all external). While all these, and more, are valid issues; there is something more fundamental at stake that supports all the above. The principles which underlie these issues.
I started thinking about this as we took a trip back home a couple of weeks ago. We crossed most of Ohio and northern Indiana. These are areas that have done much better than most during the recent recession. However, we were stung by the number of empty storefronts, the number of restaurants at peak meal times without a single car in their parking lot, and the number of businesses closed altogether on the weekend in the small towns we passed through. We frequently hear about how good this recovery is, but that is hard to square with the reality we saw on our trip. (An earlier article regarding some fundamentals behind this recovery can be read here.) Of course if you live in the DC bubble, or Northern Virginia, I suppose things appear to look great. Four of the five wealthiest counties in the country are located around DC (Three in VA and one in MD). This relative affluence too is an inequality that is hard to square up when government is supposed to possess a service orientation.
This election offers two very distinct visions for the future. Visions that not only effect the direction we take, but the principles used to guide that direction. One alternative offers more of the same policies that we’ve seen over the last twenty four years. Yes, twenty four years – and more. The other offers a small step toward restoration, and away from the hopelessness generated by the present administration’s transformation. This article looks at three important principles that will likely be impacted by this election.
Equality Under the Law
First, will we have equality under the law? No carve-outs or exceptions to laws that are made, nor laws made specifically benefiting individual groups, and laws being applied equally to all. Creating groups promotes division, jealousy, envy, and strife. Why? Because it treats people differently. It incents us to turn toward man for answers instead of our Creator, and in turn limits fulfilling our purpose. To see the truth in this we need look no further than the divisions existing among us today. Divisions that are growing, exacerbated by the current administration’s actions and policies. It is sad to see.
It doesn’t matter whether the ideology is one of fascism/nationalism as in the early 20th century, communism/socialism as in the last half of the 20th century, or the progressivism/Islamism we face today. They all come from the same root, that people exist to serve their government and control is exerted by creating division, which in turn generates dependence.
On the other hand being a single people, focused on our Creator first, should promote unity, morality, charity, and self-sacrifice. This founding principle is one critical to the long-term success of any people. Why? Because we are led to something greater than ourselves, and each one of us is recognized as having the same nature. We are all equal in this respect. This approach also leads to independence. Does this mean we are perfect at achieving it. Of course not, but what matters is we are trying to head in the right direction. Does this mean only Christians can achieve this. Also certainly not. It is the underlying philosophy that matters. Whether you believe or not, your Creator is always right beside you. However, I do think it will be somewhat easier for believers as it is more likely they will be focused on their Creator first, instead of man.
Government’s primary purpose under this principle is to administer justice, as the government exists to serve its people. Notice that government only steps in when one person fails to recognize, or acts against, another person’s rights to begin with. The people are the primary source of justice, which can only happen if they have a moral basis as both individuals and a people.
The Separation of Church and State
The second item is the separation of church and state, but not in the manner the media and pundits generally talk about today. Whatever separation was originally intended was meant to protect the church from state corruption and influence—the very opposite of what we usually hear and see today—but what our Founders observed first-hand. While the church was to be protected from the state, the church was to have an indirect influence on the state through the morality it instilled in the people (see above). Religion is not to be integrated into the state, but the principles underlying religion are to be a part of our society’s foundations, and our Founders selected the principles found within Judeo-Christian tenets for that moral basis. Will the church remain separate from the state, or become subservient to it?
The third item is related to the previous one, will religious liberty be protected? As noted above, all forms of collectivism (communism, fascism, progressivism, etc.) place their focus on man. Under any of these ideologies, the belief in a Creator must be removed, or greatly limited, as references to any after-life are considered a threat to the state’s authority. Man’s arrogance in placing himself above his Creator. The one exception to this is Islam. Islam is not just an ideology, but an ideology with a religious facet. Within this Ideology the state’s sole purpose is to ensure that Islam’s requirements are carried out. A perfect melding of state and church into a single entity. It, and the other collective ideologies just mentioned, are all incompatible with and contrary to our founding principles.
Our Founders chose Judeo-Christian principles and these center on loving God and loving one’s fellow man. This is framed by their belief in Creator given rights that included life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which all have their basis in love. Life is existence, and life’s sole source is our Creator. Liberty is the gift from our Creator to make our own decisions and be free from political tyranny. It is inherent in the gift of free will necessary to fulfill our purpose. The pursuit of happiness is the opportunity to know Him, which is why we were given His image during our creation. I know some will say this last item refers to material things, but it is clear from the early church fathers that genuine happiness only occurs when we first have a relationship with our Creator. Only then do we become good stewards of the material and spiritual blessings we each receive.
Rights and Responsibilities
All citizens not only have the right to vote, they have a duty to do so. All rights carry with them responsibilities. One cannot focus on one part and ignore the other without getting off track. This is one reason we’ve arrived at the place we are today. We’ve focused on our rights and not accepted our responsibilities. This is taking the easy path, that of allowing government to attempt carrying out things that are our responsibility – and for which we will ultimately be held accountable. Government is a poor steward. Look at the mess we have today; a weak economy, a significantly greater gap in wealth distribution, and unsustainable amounts of debt. All created by its incompetence, and prolonged and worsened by progressive policies.
Our compassion is also being used against us because we’ve forgotten what it really means to be focused on our purpose, what it truly means to be charitable. This is a subject of my new book Collectivism and Charity. I hope that you will check it out. More importantly, I hope that you will vote your conscience in the upcoming election.
I believe principles do matter, just consider the revelations occurring over the last several months. The Clinton emails, the subsequent investigation, the planned undermining of the Catholic and Evangelical churches, and the recent sexual abuse charges against Donald Trump. This is evidence of a society that is either losing or has lost its guiding principles. We have two very flawed candidates at the top of both tickets, but very clear and contrary platforms that lay out each party’s agenda. This video outlines the major differences in less than three minutes, and is worth a look. I hope that you will vote, but also understand what it is you are voting for. That too is a part of your responsibility.