In a post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all of the people.” (Saul Alinsky)
Right now, it feels like the price of democracy is an endless squabble between polar opposites, each intent upon destroying the other. There are many issues that the politicians in Washington should be able to agree upon, like fixing our decaying infrastructure and providing equal opportunity for all to succeed; however, agreement almost always breaks down over the issue of how to pay for those things. One side wants to tax the well off to help those less fortunate and the other side says, “I got mine, you go get your own and leave mine alone.” There is an almost total lack of any sense of “the common good”. In fact, one side has labeled that sense of the common good as “Socialism” and attached a stigma to that label.
It is a shame that so many people who self-identify as Christians at the same time reject the basic tenants of Christ to love thy neighbor as yourself. Repeatedly in the Bible we are admonished to take care of those in need and to help those less fortunate than us. It does not say, “I’ve got mine, you go get your own.”
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but indeed and in truth.” – (1 John 3:17-18)
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” – (Proverbs 21:13)
I suspect that were he alive, saying and doing the things that he did back then, Jesus would be labeled a Socialist; especially if he said –
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – (Philippians 2:4)
So the question becomes, is that Socialism or the price of democracy in looking after the common good? Is the availability of healthcare services for all a Socialist idea or something that is the common good? Is providing an education and equal opportunity to all of our children a Socialist idea or something that promotes the common good. Does insuring equal justice for all mean we have become Socialists or just that we have recognized that it as a key component of the common good.
If the key roadblock to agreement on providing these things is who will pay for them, have we become like the rich man who wandered away from Jesus when he was told he must sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. He left because he had many possessions and could not bring himself to give them up. He put his money and his possessions above doing the right things for the common good. He was unwilling to pay that price.
Not even the most ardent Socialists are espousing that you must give all that you have to help the poor; however, they are asking that everyone, especially the rich, give to support the common good of all. For the rich that price will be larger, because they have much to begin with; but for all there is a price we must pay to support the common good.
Recently we have been challenged as a nation by a virus that seeks to do harm to our common good. This far, many have not shown the willingness to pay the price (wearing masks, social distancing and good hygiene) for the common good. Those who refuse are essentially removing themselves from the common good and saying to the rest of us, “I’ve got my health; you go get your own.”
The choice is ours to make, like the choice give to the rich man by Jesus. Do we do what is right for the common good or do we wander off mumbling to ourselves about the price being too high, like the rich man. In this case, the mumbling will likely be caused by trying to talk while on a ventilator. I choose to make the sacrifices that I am ask to make for the common good of us all.
Mask up people!
In the early days of Christianity, people looked out for one another. When there was a need, someone stepped up to meet that need. They held thing in common. Those who didn’t like that way of doing things added an “ism” to that word to create the negative…communism!.