“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. ” – Barack Obama
On the way to church this Sunday I heard a brilliantly offensive commercial. I was listening to a Christian radio station (I don’t always do this – I’m not a teetotaler on music) and an ad came on for some sort of conference, or get-together … I don’t quite recall, actually. The audio track came in with “new to the area? having trouble finding people of ‘like mind’? or maybe you’re just a few steps ahead of your friends in your Christian faith.” I was floored. Then again, it was rather brilliant. I mean, if you want participation in your function, perhaps there is some benefit to appealing to a sense of self-righteousness or pride.
We’ve all seen various forms of the political spectrum, usually with “economic freedom” on one axis and “political freedom” on the other. There are hundreds of different drawings, most with their own interpretations embedded (e.g., “economic equality” instead of a lack of “economic freedom”).
Charts like these have been used for some time to “simplify” (or more like pigeon-hole) the discourse on political movements. Tonight, I’d like to draw a new two-dimensional “spectrum” – the Rightful Authority Spectrum.
The vertical axis is the “God” axis, moving from less to more belief in the almighty. At the lower end we would find athiests, moving up to agnostics, unitarians, various other sects, and culminating with some of the mono-theistic religions. The axis describes not just one’s belief in God, but also a belief in the fundamental and rightful authority of said Deity in the lives of men.
The horizontal axis is the “Me” axis. It is a measure of a how special I am (or how I view myself) in regard to authority in the lives of men. On the right hand we have those who view themselves as having some special place in making life decisions for their fellow men. On the left are those who feel no special place or calling to make life decisions for their fellow men.
Note that one may hold these views of God and self in any form of government, but they likely have their fullest expression in a democracy, where I (one of “the people”) have some measure of political authority. (It is meaningless to consider myself important in the decisions of others if I have no authority to enforce any of those decisions.)
To the right we see much of the political discourse in the America. When we see differences between “Left” and “Right” in political debates, it is often the between different groups of people who feel some special authority to make decisions for others – and they disagree over those decisions. Right-wing theocrats want sexual and substance abuse purity, while left-wing theocrats want to enforce benevolent purity and social justice. Progressives disregard religion and merely hold that the best and wisest can make better decisions for the whole than can individuals.
To the bottom left I have put the anarchists (a rather small group) and the Ayn Rand type Libertarians (one would include John Stossel in this group). They feel quite threatened by the notion of anybody making decisions for them – and are willing to enforce the same rationale upon themselves and make no decisions for others.
The top left is where I would place myself, and I have tagged this region with my philosophy of what a government of, by, and for the people ought to be: Golden Rule Democracy. I hold a firm belief in the sovereignty of God and His rightful authority in the lives of men. (Authority from which He chooses to allow men to make their own decisions, reserving judgement to Himself.) I also hold that I, my neighbors, my Christian brothers and sisters, and random persons from across the globe, are equally fallen, flawed, and corrupted. We ought not use the government in such a way as to force decisions on our neighbors (we have a hard enough time making good decisions for ourselves), but only as a means of collective defense of individual liberties (endowed by our Creator).
As with any spectrum, very few people will lie at the extremes.
On this blog, our main “beef” is with those on the upper right of the spectrum. Disagreements with those on the lower half of the spectrum may well spring from a fundamental difference of faith, which is unlikely to be reasoned away, though understanding is certainly possible. But for those on the upper right and upper left, especially those who are specifically Christian, there is no base difference in faith or the starting point for religious texts (i.e., the Bible). That ought to be enough to get to a rationale debate on the proper role of government in a democracy – but alas it often seems to fall short.
Perhaps there is no shortage of those who find themselves “a few steps ahead in their Christian faith” … and so, we carry on.