Wednesday, July 6, 2016
As a needed reminder that Christian values and social justice cannot comfortably be forced into neat partisan packages, two recent newspaper editorials may appear to point in opposite directions but actually illustrate that neither end of the political spectrum today may capture Gospel values or reflect genuine social justice.
One editorial suggests that the reliance of the political left on government-centric solutions fails to advance social justice on prudential grounds, while the other pointedly reveals that the presumptive nominee of the party that has been the bastion of the political right is now professing a "theology" bearing no resemblance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Herewith a sample of each:
Jay Miller in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes:
The idea of slapping the wealthy around and righting all perceived injustices sounds terrific. Putting it into action through the heavy-handedness of government intervention often tells a different story: Economic stagnation that punishes the least well-off first, exactly the ones who are supposed to benefit from populist policies.
One need look no further than Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina to see what current or former populist leaders of those countries have wrought with their so-called egalitarian policies.
For all the faults one can find with capitalism and free trade, they work better than any other system and that's something we should never forget.
Peter Werner writes in the New York Times on “The Theology of Donald Trump”:
Time and again Mr. Trump has shown contempt for those he perceives as weak and vulnerable — “losers,” in his vernacular. They include P.O.W.s, people with disabilities, those he deems physically unattractive and those he considers politically powerless. He bullies and threatens people he believes are obstacles to his ambitions. He disdains compassion and empathy, to the point where his instinctive response to the largest mass shooting in American history was to congratulate himself: “Appreciate the congrats for being right.” ***
Mr. Trump’s entire approach to politics rests on dehumanization. If you disagree with him or oppose him, you are not merely wrong. You are worthless, stripped of dignity, the object of derision. ***
The calling of Christians is to be “salt and light” to the world, to model a philosophy that defends human dignity, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is to stand for justice, dispense grace and be agents of reconciliation in a broken world. And it is to take seriously the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”