Saturday, September 22, 2012

An Observation On The Presidential Election

With all the new flak over Mitt Romney and his comments about the 47% (or whatever it is) who don't pay income tax, a not-very-funny thing occurred to me.

On one hand, you seem to have a campaign, whether directly attributable to Romney or not, that seems to be all-in for stirring up feelings of greed and/or selfishness among the electorate.

On the opposing side, you have a push, whether directly from the President or not, that is apparently hell-bent on fanning the flames of envy.

Are we supposed to feel comfortable with either of these choices? Granted, one side is basically the party of Moloch, but this appeal to dueling Deadly Sins isn't giving me any comfort regarding the future of our nation.

This illustrates a problem with our modern form of government. With an electorate that doesn't understand the problems the nation faces, much less the solutions, it's way easier to just lob stuff toward the baser instincts and wait for the fish to start biting. Let us reflect again on the words of St. John Chrysostom to understand why a deficit of charity is incurable by the government and, as we can see from the present election, is probably only something that the government will make worse.

Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich man's gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone?

Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combine both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion; a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people's hearts first - and then they will joyfully share their wealth.


haskovec said...

What is the source of that quote? I did some searching and some people seem to suggest that they can't actually attribute the quote to St. John Chrysostom, so I just was curious about the source before I quote it (as I think it is an amazing quote if he actually said it).

Throwback said...

I got the comment from page 43 of a book called On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom. It jives pretty well with a lot of other stuff he said, so I'd be surprised if it was inauthentic.

We originally referenced it in this post: