Long ago, I wrote about the challenge of voting our faith in today's society.
I've thought long and hard about this post today, because this isn't a political blog, and because I know that what I have to say here will not be popular with some of my regular readers. But God calls us to speak the truth in all things, even when it's unpopular, so speak I will--and you can take it or leave it as your own prayerful reflection deems appropriate. But consider that if you're in doubt, you might have landed here for a reason. One of the reasons I'm writing this post is that I've gotten a huge amount of search traffic over the past couple of days on terms like "vote your faith" and "voting your faith 2008". It's obviously an issue weighing heavy on our minds.
There are, of course, issues and arguments on both sides of the fence. As I pointed out in my earlier post, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama, sets forth views that are entirely in line with Catholic teaching. Many Catholic voters are focused, and have been focused for many years, on the issue of abortion. That's unfortunate, since aside from appointing Supreme Court Justices, the President has almost nothing to do with the issue of abortion--it's a matter of state law. And, of course, the Supreme Court rulings on abortion issues haven't changed significantly since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, despite several changes in administrations. That's 35 years of wasted votes.
And sometimes even that goes wrong. George W. Bush somehow managed to garner support as a "pro-life" President despite signing the most egregious futile care statute ever enacted in the United States. I'm pretty sure that Andrea Clark's family didn't view President Bush as "pro-life".
Because the issue of abortion is so stark, it sometimes overshadows other issues that are just as important to our society. Issues like how we think of and treat other human beings, how we discharge our responsibility to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and whether we put value in loving one another or in profit and prestige. Maybe we overlook these things because they're not so dramatic and obvious and in-your-face as issues like abortion...or maybe we overlook them because they're uncomfortable.
Why are we worried, for instance, about tax increases? Doesn't the Bible tell us to give Caesar what is Caesar's, and not to store up our treasures on earth? The Bible tells us, also, to feed the hungry, to tend to the sick, but we want to do it our way. So many good Christians respond to this point with a mental (or actual) foot stomp, a "yes, we're called to do that, but AS WE CHOOSE--the government shouldn't be making the decision for us."
Perhaps. But what are we holding on to? Control? Possessions? The ability to judge who among us is worthy of help? Is any of those things a valid attachment? And isn't the root issue bigger than that, anyway? Isn't the root issue about the kind of society we want to live in, about whether we want a leader who believes his mission is to tend to all sheep or to maintain and intensify a system that has us competing against one another for success--for our very survival--rather than viewing our fellow man as something precious regardless of his station in life?
I'm in favor of life, and life means much more than outlawing abortion. It means and end to capital punishment (as the Catechism teaches), an end to unjust wars, an end to statutes that allow doctors to decide it's not worth caring for someone anymore, an end to people dying of curable diseases because they can't afford medical care, an end to women thinking abortion is their only option because they lack emotional support and medical resources and a means to feed their children, an end to a legal structure that makes it profitable for major corporations to injure and even kill consumers and so very much more. It means painting a world where the phrase "not my problem" is recognized for the nonsense that it is.
Lets take a step toward creating that world tomorrow.