You might find it interesting to know that for many of the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, democratic forms of government were not thought to be the best form of governing. This wasn’t because of a lack of understanding. The Greeks are the very people who invented the word democracy, which literally means “power of the people”. Their concern was what people would do with their freedom.
Their criticism of democracy was that the self-interest of both the politicians and the people would become the main driving force instead of the common good. Their other concern was that people would not take the time to educate themselves about the topics they would help to decide. These two, in their thinking, would naturally lead to a society where justice is lacking and violence is widespread. They knew well humanity’s struggle with complacency and selfishness.
That is why those who established this country emphasized virtue. They too knew that democracy cannot survive without virtuous citizens! They emphasized honesty, selflessness, courage, sacrifice, commitment, and hard work. These virtues are based on moral and ethical principles that go beyond any one religion. Reason and common sense tell us of their necessity for a just and peaceful society.
Previous generations turned to Christianity for the ultimate source of virtue and morality. This was because they realized, like the founders of this country, that “only religion, whatever that religion might be, could get people to rise above their narrow self-interest and become citizens who cared about others.” This requires self-sacrifice and that is the difficulty of virtuous living. It becomes much easier, however, when we have learned to care for the wellbeing of others as much, or even more, than ourselves. At the most fundamental level, a just and virtuous society would never allow the innocent and vulnerable to be killed in order that others can live as they wish.
Selfishness and complacency blind us to truth and reality. Let us be on guard this Tuesday as we go to the voting booth. Abortion and legalized marijuana create more problems than they pretend to solve. They are another step in the direction that the ancients were fearful democratic rule would lead. When the rights of self blind us to caring for others, the weakest voices are the victims. As Catholics, we know that our care and concern is for all people, including the youngest group among us still in their mother’s wombs.
Inevitably people find themselves in difficult situations, looking for answers to difficult problems, such as a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. Such situations are heart wrenching, stirring some of our deepest emotions. Of the different responses we could have, none of them should be to end the life of the person in the womb. We need to care for these mothers, assisting them with their worries and concerns. The easiest path isn’t always the right path. When tempted with abortion, we need to hear God saying the innocent and the just you shall not put to death (Exo 23:7).
Please vote NO for Issues 1 and 2 this Tuesday. Your prayers for these are most appreciated.