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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Small Laws

"When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws." - GK Chesterton Daily News, 7/29/1905

It's a new year and your national and state representatives and senators are hard at work. In the San Francisco area, they're working to ban spanking. Here in NJ they want to ban people from smoking in cars with children and a new bill would make it easier to get the advertised rebate prices from retailers. I've also heard of many politicians hard at work to ban trans fat and the dreaded foie gras. I'm glad America has reached the point in its history where life is protected at all stages, hunger is unknown and all our servicemen and women are home safely with their families. What a relief, that now we can focus on all the finer points that were off our radar screen as we worked together to overcome the larger issues like poverty, abortion and the war on terror.
Yes, I'm being sarcastic. Does anyone else see the problem here? Our country is taking a moral nose dive and I'm supposed to give a damn when my elected officials spend their time debating whether or not to remove the word 'idiot' from our state constitution. I can't make this stuff up. Even when you remove all the pomp and circumstance around the minimum wage raise, you'll see very few people will genuinely benefit, rise out of poverty and turn their lives around because of a measly $2.10 per hour raise. The increase doesn't address the causes of poverty just like banning trans fat won't stop people from getting fat. Banning spanking won't end child abuse or help our violent culture and taking the word idiot out of our state's constitution isn't going to help all the mentally ill who wander the city streets in need of a bed, medical care and genuine compassion.
We live in an era when our elected officials are too cowardly to take a real stand on anything for fear of negative press or a drop in popularity polls. If we rely on the press and the government to tell us what the country needs, we'll be stitching up our paper cuts and slapping band aids on our gaping wounds and then wonder why we're falling apart.
We need officials willing to be unpopular and citizens willing to vote for the right candidate, not the popular party candidate. We need politicians who can stop name calling long enough to actually enact smart , constitutionally sound laws that address the root causes. Less committees; more commitment. We need judges who stand for justice, who aren't seeking to reinterpret natural law.
Given our current situation, however, the future is grim. The process of selecting an American president is becoming more and more like the vote for prom king or queen. What can we as Catholics, as Workers, do in the political sphere to shape the future of our country? We can not stay entirely hands off and let the country fall into the hands of the few squeaky wheels. But certainly, there seem to be no parties that offer a platform that is entirely inline with Church teachings. Would a Catholic political party even have a chance? The thought makes me smile. For now, let us pray for God's presence to be felt in our nation's capital as never before and for Him to raise up people worthy of our trust.