Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Political Activism and the Reality of Evil II

Some follow-up thoughts on my last post, Political Activism and the Reality of Evil

Striving for a societal utopia via political/ institutional machinations and alterations is a foolish and dangerous delusion. Any project or program for reforming society that does not take the existence of evil and its constancy into account is doomed to failure.

There is no such thing as “social progress,” as the term is typically used: there is only the infinitely slow and often imperceptible progress of the individual who is seeking, by the grace of God, to bring moral order into a soul mired in moral disorder. Therefore, the reformation that matters most is the reforming of the individual’s morals, which begins with embracing God’s grace and forgiveness and in seeking after virtue.

Politics deals with the problems of ethics and ethics are defined by religious faith. (Two of this nation’s primary religions are self-worship and the religion of despotic democracy - the majority is always right-eous.) The state exists to enforce morality. The only question, then, is, Whose Morality? However -

Passing all the “right” laws will never reform society, never eradicate evil. The belief in “salvation” by law and regulation is an evil in and of itself, leading us to look to the state, a politician, or a political party as a messiah who will usher in the peaceable kingdom.   

Dealing with evil in society must always begin with my own heart. Most strident and overzealous reformers have failed to deal with the logs in their own eyes (Matthew 7.3), which leaves them Pharisaical. Combating societal evil with evil attitudes and behaviors is just plain stupid, not to mention destructive.

Discarding any belief in objectively defined evil, we have marginalized the importance of churches and spiritual communities to societal health, as well as the critical nature of electing virtuous men and women to political office. Yes, wisdom, sound principles developed through deep reflection, and political savvy are also critical for our political leaders (as well as for ministers, priests, and rabbis!). However, I don’t see how anyone who is either agnostic or antagonistic toward virtue is going to have an adequate mindset regarding justice, the rule of law, or personal accountability.

Ameliorating the effects of evil doesn’t happen by simply counting votes, erecting “better” institutions, or inflicting evil on the despised minority de jure. It is always hearts and minds that must be at the forefront of our concern. Imagine if we put as much effort into sharing our faith and understandings regarding God’s love, grace, and wisdom with our neighbors for the last 30 years as we put into advocating specific social programs, political policies, and candidates … or in tearing them all down. The mind boggles.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

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