Many, perhaps most, Americans think of themselves as Democrats or Republicans or as members of the political Right or the political Left. I try not to think in those terms.
These are terms used to divide people into teams to play democracy as a game in which each election is an opportunity for one team to win and the other to lose. Teammates are expected to support their team at all times, to adopt the team’s positions on as many issues as possible, and to exaggerate the moral, intellectual and even stylistic failings of the other team. The team culture encourages unity, peace, and understanding within the team but not between the teams.
A third of my friends are probably more to the right on the spectrum of political beliefs, meaning they are conservative or Republican. The other two-thirds of my friends are more to the left, making them liberal or Democratic. And, what I find interesting is that each side finds the other morally reprehensible for different reasons.
Let me first state that I am not going to take either side. I am taking my own side in Catholic politics. I am taking the Catholic side, which means that I reject the errors and immorality of both parties.
I do not have a problem with divisiveness. Jesus himself said that he came not to bring peace, but the sword. But to state that someone is an idiot because he or she belongs to the wrong political team is not what Jesus intended.
Some might think that bringing my Catholicism to a political discussion is misguided since Jesus did not espouse a political philosophy. He didn’t tell us which party is best nor did he establish a system of government. Many people argue that politics has absolutely nothing to do with philosophical or theological beliefs. As I said before, I have met Catholics on both sides. I have also met atheists on both sides. I have also met non-Catholic Christians on both sides.
So, as I said earlier, I have problems with both sides. See, the Catholic Church believes that there are four sins that cry out to heaven for justice: Sodomy, murder, denying a worker’s just wages, and oppression of the poor. People to the left on the political spectrum often condone the first two; many on the right condone the second two. As a Catholic, I cannot condone any of these grievous sins.
I understand that there is a whole spectrum of what people believe on the left, so I am going to be talking about the people who are the loudest in our culture. Leftists claim that they care about the people and, to a certain extent, I agree; they do. But they also condone sodomy or the marrying of two men, and they also condone murder, or, to be more specific, infanticide.
The marriage of two men or two women is wrong on a couple of fronts. First, it perverts what marriage is really for: the creation and raising of children. Children need a mother and a father. And second, it is has been condemned by the teaching authority of the one true Church that Jesus established on the rock who is St. Peter. The modern notion that the libido must be satisfied regardless of what it wants is absolutely incompatible with the gospel of the Son of God who chose death on a cross. Jesus did not spend his life in pursuit of pleasure nor did he teach us to do so.
Abortion, or infanticide, is wrong for a number of reasons as well. First and foremost, it is the murder of a helpless and innocent child for the benefit (usually the convenience) of a more powerful individual. Second, children are the future of the human race, and with the number of couples hoping to adopt infants the inconvenience of raising a child should not be an issue. Third, abortion is not healthy for the mother because it, firstly, gives the impression that sex is more of a casual act rather than a procreative one, and, secondly, can severely mess with the woman’s hormones to suddenly have a life form no longer existing within her body, similar to post-partum depression, and thirdly, like any surgery it can be dangerous.
Now, again, I understand that there is a whole spectrum of what people believe on the right, so I am merely talking about the loudest voices that I can hear in the culture. The right claims to be in favor of the country and, to a certain extent, I believe them. But they also promote the free market, which has notoriously denied workers their just wages. A great many companies now have factories outside of the United States in order to bypass our minimum wage laws.
They would likely argue that the free market could take care of that simply by having people buy only products that are “American made.” The problem is that people do not know, do not care, or are unable to buy only “American made” products. For instance, I remember walking through a knife section at a store with one of my coworkers who happened to be a gun enthusiast Republican. He pointed to a knife and mentioned that the brand is known for good, reliable, American-made knives. Intrigued, I picked up the package, flipped it over, and saw “Made in China,” written there.
They also are guilty of the marginalization of certain people: the poor. Of course, there are people out there who take advantage of the system because they can. They can get that government check and sit around all day, just existing. But there are others who really need their checks: the disabled and those who have had tragedy strike again and again. Those people exist just as much as the people who work the system to their advantage. To deprive those who need that assistance is to oppress the poor.
But to sum all of this up, I would have to say that the differences in opinion between both sides come primarily from a difference in priorities. Some people prioritize immigrants, some prioritize the future generation or the unborn, and some prioritize the workers. But if one were to truly take Jesus’ words to heart, there would be no need to prioritize anyone’s life over another. We are all created in God’s image; we all have someone who loves us, and we all have the ability to reason. We should not divide ourselves up because of the people we care about. We should all care about everyone. And I do believe that most people care about most other people, or at least do not actively want them to live painful lives.
In politics, people are using far too many emotional arguments. They are calling others emotionless robots because of their different focus and different priorities. Neither political party, however, has a monopoly on caring. You vote for the person who you believe will do a better job of bringing about change in the areas you care about. That makes sense, does it not?
Some get mad at people voting for a pro-life politician because they perceive his foreign policy to be weak, as though he does not care about those starving children in Africa. But is it morally bankrupt to focus on the people who you perceive to be in more severe danger? Is it morally bankrupt to follow your conscience? Did we learn nothing from watching Pinocchio as children?
Catholics are supposed to live in the world, not of it. Our bodies will perish, our loved ones will die, and nothing earthly will last. All we are called to do is to preach the gospel in order to save as many souls as possible. If we never forget that order from on high, and if we never forget the other ten rules and all of their subheadings, we will do just fine.