“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” – Matt 7:12
As I noted a few days ago, the blog went quiet for a few weeks as I worked through just how to discuss recent life events. Having cleared that hurdle, it seems like a good time to rehash basic driving principles. (That, and this is our 800th post! – so it’s a good time to reflect.)
Golden Rule Democracy.
In a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the government is the people. It is of little value to discuss what the government should or shouldn’t do in a given situation without understanding that in a democracy we are the government. Thus, anything the government is doing is something we are doing. So then, we cannot hide behind “the government” when ills persist … we are doing it. We cannot hide behind “the government” when we exceed neighborly behavior – Golden Rule behavior – in order to “do good”.
What do you want your neighbor to do to you in a given situation? You now must offer the same to him. You cannot do something to your neighbor via the government that you would not want him to do to you. This is a violation of the Golden Rule when we live in a democracy.
A while back I posted “Rightful Authority Spectrum” which attempted to categorize various political ideologies along how much authority they ascribed to both God and man in the ruling of the lives of others:
The “me axis” running from left to right describes how much authority I ascribe to myself in ruling the lives of my neighbors. The “God axis” running from bottom to top describes how much authority I ascribe to God in ruling the lives of me and my neighbors.
In the bottom left we have the athiest version of libertarianism (and even the anarchists) – they ascribe no right to themselves or God to rule over others. On the bottom right we have progressives (and communists too) – who ascribe all right to themselves but none to God. The top right has both the religious right and religious left, who ascribe authority to God to rule the affairs of men, and are somehow self-appointed representatives of the Most High to enforce His will (which they have understand fully, no doubt). Then there is the top left, ascribing little-to-no authority to me to rule the life of my neighbor, but recognizing the sovereignty of God (and from this deriving any number of rights that belong to the citizenry, the people created in His image).
I hold that the religious left, who want to help the poor with government funds, violate the Golden Rule. For the government to spend anything it must appropriate it from the citizenry, which inherently involves the use of force. It is well beyond the bounds of the Golden Rule to put a gun to your neighbor’s head, take his money, and give it to the poor. The ends do not justify the means. The mere fact that they are oftentimes correct in their judgment that the wealthy should give to the poor does not justify the use of force to enact their judgement (on God’s behalf).
I hold that the religious right, who want to instantiate a moral society, violate the Golden Rule. Even if they are correct about their views on morality, the use of force to enact those judgements against moral crimes that have no earthly victim (or no earthly unwilling victim) is beyond what the Golden Rule allows. We must always hold open the prospect of making an error in judgment, and that using force (i.e. government) to back up our potentially errant judgment is a violation against the life and free will that God has granted us. (Now, in the case of crimes with victims our interjection is consistent with the Golden Rule – not in the preventing immorality by the criminal, but in defending the victim from harm, which is what we would want him to do for us.)
The broad-sweeping freedom I apply to my neighbors surely applies to the poor ones as well. Ayn Rand type libertarians hold to a form of social darwinism – they actually oppose charity and even want it to be illegal in some cases. If I am free to be stingy with my money (which is simply a proxy for the productive trade of my life) then I must also be free to be generous, and give it away to anyone I choose.
The implications of the Golden Rule in a democracy are pretty far reaching, but as a Christian I hold that life is best when lived consistent with the principles of the Bible.