Let's not be fooled again!
Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
My mail box was full on November 6, 2002--both my E-Mail box and my phone mail box--ah the wonders of modern technology!
Most of the messages expressed what was almost elation over the midterm election results. One E-Mail in particular, from a fiery woman activist whom I have admired for years, had an attachment with an animation of the President dancing what appeared to be an Irish jig!
As an admirer of both the President as well as the dance of at least some of my ancestors, I smiled as the figure danced before my eyes on my computer screen.
However, I almost instantly felt a caution rise up within me, down deep where I know I must turn when events of such a magnitude, the kind that intersect my work as both a citizen of this world and of the kingdom to come, occur.
As a reformed graying hippie, I flashed immediately to the refrain of an old song by the Who:
"I'll tip my hat to the new constitution Take a bow for the new revolution Smile and grin at the change all around Pick up my guitar and play Just like yesterday Then I'll get on my knees and pray We don't get fooled again"
When I lived in the Washington DC area, I hosted a radio program entitled "A Millennial Moment." I began the program began with that song.
It was a part of my effort as a Catholic Christian, committed to effective political participation, to address what I have long feared is the danger facing many sincere Christians who have taken the call to social and political participation to heart.
There is no doubt that the past election reflects a major sea change for all those who are concerned with the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the inherent dignity of every human life at every age and stage.
Additionally, there is little doubt that the climate appears to be more favorable to some of our family issues such as parental choice in education for all parents no matter what their economic or social condition.
Perhaps as well, those of us who believe that religious faith and the values informed by that faith promote the common good and are good for the public order, will find an environment less hostile to religious faith and religious institutions, after a long period of hostility based upon a misinterpretation of the proper relationship between church and state.
This hostility is tragic considering the brilliant model enshrined in the U.S. Constitutions First Amendment and the western political tradition. Maybe with some new judicial appointments we can actually move our jurisprudence away from hostility to an accomodationist model, where religious faith, people and institutions are seen as a resource and not a problem in a truly free society.
Finally, perhaps those who hear the cry of the poor will find an environment more conducive to encouraging faith based and community initiatives in delivery of the care of services to the poor. As centralized programs (no matter whether we feel they were effective or not) seem to be shrinking, we must be about proposing and building a new "safety net" of care for those especially loved the Lord who came among us as, and continues to reveal himself through, one who is poor.
The Lord who promised "I will be with you always..." also told us "the poor you will have with you always..." The connection is clear ---especially when one reads the twenty fifth chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew. That mission must be understood and inform all of our efforts in the work to which we are now called.
Hopefully, all of this is positively affected by the events of November 5, 2002. However, I am not so sure.
Election results are not an assurance of that - nor are political parties the "solution" for those of us called as Christians to be, in the words of an early Christian manuscript, the "soul of the world." The relationship between Caesar and Christ or as Augustine opined the "City of God" and the "city of man" is always a difficult tension.
Those of us who take seriously both the obligations of our baptism and of our citizenship cannot rest. Now is the time to begin to build a more human and just society and to advance the common good.
We are called to give a voice to those who have none and to be concerned for authentic justice, human flourishing and true human solidarity. We are the ones who are called to be a conscience to a culture that is immersed in viewing human persons as objects to be used rather than as the purpose and end of all good government.
This is evident in the horrors unleashed by our utilitarian insistence upon creating human embryonic life in order to experiment and use it in a manner that always results in its death; in our inability to see the horrid duplicity in rightly enacting laws to protect unborn children from attack by criminals while we still call the scraping of these same children from the womb of their mother a "right."
This is evident in the continued use and abuse of the human body and the rejection of the beauty and dignity of human sexuality, so obviously promoted by an unencumbered pornography industry that now permeates every one of our homes over the internet.
This is evident in our seeming propensity to forget that the market will only truly be free when we insists that the market, like the entire creation, was made for man and not man for the market and see that opening up participation in this new field for freedom, the market economy, is a key to true freedom for so many who still suffer the ravages of the cycle of poverty.
The list could go on. However, that is not the purpose of this article. It is instead meant to issue a warning to my fellow activists to not be fooled again. For the most part, I too am pleased that we now have what may be a more favorable environment within which to work on behalf of life, family, authentic human and religious freedom and solidarity with the poor and needy.
However, those words of the old rockers from my hippie days haunt me:
"The change, it had to come We knew it all along We were liberated from the fold, that's all And the world looks just the same And history ain't changed 'Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war"
Now is the time for more prayer, careful discernment and effective political participation informed by our faith. If we sit back and allow ourselves to be deluded with a notion that somehow "we have won" we will have committed the most egregious of errors.
It is not about "winning" or "losing" but rather about being faithful to our baptism and the call to faithful citizenship. It is not about democrat, republican, liberal or conservative, it is about faithfulness to what we know to be the truth about the inviolable dignity of every human person, the primacy and importance of family, the true meaning of human and religious freedom and our obligations to all of our neighbors including the poor.
If we rest now, we may be haunted by these words, once again being sung by those old rockers as they make their reunion tour:
"There's nothing in the streets Looks any different to me And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye And the parting on the left Are now parting on the right And the beards have all grown longer overnight"
Let's not be fooled again!
Rev. Mr. Keith A Fournier, the founder and president of "Common Good", is a constitutional lawyer. Long active in political participation, Fournier was a founder of Catholic Alliance and served as its first President. He is a pro-life and pro-family lobbyist. He was the first Executive Director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice). He also served as an advisor to the presidential campaign of Steve Forbes. Fournier holds a Bachelors degree (B.A.) from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Philosophy and Theology, a Masters Degree (M.T.S.) in Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh and an Honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) from St. Thomas University. Fournier is the author of seven books on issues concerning life, faith, evangelization, ecumenism, family, political participation, public policy and cultural issues. He is a features editor for Catholic Online and the Co-Director of "Your Catholic Voice"
http://www.commongoodonline.com VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - President/founder, 757 546-9580
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