Worldviews, Worship, and Wineskins

The Gospel at Work in Every Context

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

The Well-Tuned Car and the Awful Driver

Some general observations on politics:
Conservatives emphasize personal responsibility. We need that. Liberals emphasize social responsibility. We need that too.
Conservatives celebrate the hero. Heroes deserve recognition. Liberals are advocates of the victim. Victims deserve an advocate.
Conservatives love freedom. Liberals love safety. Whether we can have both is debatable.
Both conservatives and liberals have faith in mankind: liberals have faith that man is essentially good. Conservatives have faith that man will fail us at every possible point.
Because of this fundamental disagreement on the essential goodness of man, liberals and conservatives will always be at odds. Here’s how:
Liberals will constantly blame the system when things don’t go right. Sometimes the system is to blame, but usually it’s individual people that are to blame. The liberal approach to politics has typically been to grow government programs in order to address problems that are fundamentally human: laziness, greed, selfishness, racism, hypocrisy, etc. This approach is like getting a mechanic to fix a perfectly good car when the problem is the driver. Conservatives aren’t above the problems of humanity (laziness, greed, selfishness, hypocrisy), but they generally recognize that the solution is not to set up a government program, vis-a-vis Mrs. Clinton; “I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness.”
Certainly we do, Mrs. Clinton. But the Federal government has an abysmal record of dispensing love and kindness, unless you mean dollars and cents.
This political cycle doesn’t promise to provide us with a viable conservative answer to Clinton’s saccharine plan for improvement of the human condition. In fact, even when conservatives had everything they wanted, (during the Reagan administration), the country was still plagued with problems: laziness, greed, selfishness and hypocrisy. Even if we contend that the economy was growing under Reagan, we must ask: is economic stability and growth the final measure of human flourishing?
My point is this: the human condition is not bettered when we have more money and live longer, but when humans behave betterly. (I would prefer a full life of fifty years amongst fine, upstanding people than eighty with scum, wouldn’t you?) But there has never been a system of government that has been able to address the poor behavior of humans. We have tried rehabilitation of every kind: education, housing programs, youth enrichment programs, vocational assistance and government health-care. Have we succeeded? Is there less racism today than there was twenty years ago? Is there less violent crime? Less tax-fraud or embezzlement?
Liberalism and humanism tout the grand achievements of mankind: discovery of DNA. Manned missions to the moon. The erradication of smallpox. What we have failed to do is to master the human soul. Along with our lofty achievements, we have managed to devise huger and more efficient ways of destroying one another. The industrial revolution wasn’t the next step forward in evolution, it only magnified the existing potential of mankind: both for good and evil. And 200 some-odd years later we are in the same place as ever–trying to fix the car when the driver is the problem.
What then is the answer? The only avenue to alter the human condition is to change the affections and motivations of the human heart. The Jesus of the Bible offers the only solution to the broken human heart: be born again. With Jesus, it might not even matter what car we were driving (which political system we use to get along). Communism would work, if the communists were hard working and honest. Capitalism would work, if the capitalists were generous instead of greedy. Democracy would work if the democrats weren’t corrupt. Anarchy might even work, if the anarchists were well behaved and kind! But there is only one person with the power to make those kinds of people: Jesus. And the offer of heart change only comes on his terms: absolute surrender! Will you surrender to him today?

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