Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Love is Action

In this election year we will hear much of the candidate's love for America and all her people. Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire tears, Barak Obama's eloquent appeals for a new way forward, John McCain's constant reminders of his military service and Mitt Romney's apple pie appeals all speak of their love for the USA. Such rhetoric and sentiments are good, but real love - the love that compassionately puts others first and sacrificially looks to the next generation's good - only counts if there is ACTION. 
I have yet to hear a single policy proposal from any Democratic candidate. I hear what needs to be fixed and I hear vague comments on health care, taxes and war, but there is nothing concrete except visceral hatred for the current President or philosophical platitudes. No one is willing to confront the tough issues of how we pay for our promises and the administrative incapacities of an over-bloated federal government. An ancient writer once encouraged his readers, "...[L]et us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and truth." In other words, what we DO proves the genuineness of our love. 
On the Republican side, I hear more policy substance, but it is still disjointed and needs cohesion and inspiration. Aggressive pursuit of terrorists, lower taxes and immigration reform must be balanced by clear goals, spending restraints and secure borders. There must be new, creative private/public partnerships to rebuild our physical and governmental infrastructure. We need to decentralize and re-empower state and local governments to deliver services in more efficient and humane fashion than Washington. 
Both sides must appeal to the personal responsibilities and virtues that are incumbent upon all citizens of a free society. The paradox of liberty is the self-discipline it demands!
Over three hundred years ago, there was a great debate over the nature of freedom and the role of government. This debate provided some of the principles our Founders affirmed as they created the American Constitution. 
One one side stood Thomas Hobbes, author the famous work, Leviathan and a cynic about human freedom. He believed that humankind needed the firm hand of a strong, controlling, monarchical government. Left to themselves, people were basically animals and needed taming!
On the other side was John Locke, the father of liberty, who believed that the government's primary job was to protect the natural rights of all citizens to life, liberty and property. This is not libertarianism, for Locke affirmed the necessity of personal virtue and the moral foundations of law. 
Our Founders leaned toward Locke, but Hobbes has always been in the background! 
Love is action - wise, practical service for the common good. One of the great actions our federal government could pursue is divesting itself of so much administrative duty and refocusing on creating the conditions that maximize freedom and opportunity, while holding those in power accountable to the virtues that make us great. 
Love means health care for all - but not a single-payer program run by a new generation of middle-class bureaucrats who majored in government in college.
Love means excellent education for all - administered locally to standards determined by states in line with overall principles that prepare our children for 21st century life. This is education in partnership with families, not in place of them.
Love means welcoming immigrants - legally and safely - and making sure the English language and American citizenship is in view for those who wish to live here permanently and reap the benefits of our freedoms.

Love means caring for the most vulnerable - from conception to coronation - by welcoming children and giving dignity to the dying instead of destroying life in the birth canal and suggesting that people have a duty to die.

Love means receiving life as a gift and not playing God with the elements of life. Love means healing disease without trying to clone perfection.

Love means confronting terrorism with moral rectitude and social justice as well as military power and political strategies.

Love means mentoring a new generation in its stewardship of resources - not with a mindset of fear and scarcity, but one of abundance and wisdom. There are enough resources for everyone to live well, if we decide that the welfare of all is a worthy goal.

Love means a return to the "first principles" of life and liberty rooted in truth and virtue. Unrestrained license or theocratic totalitarianism are not options for free people!

Hopefully one or more of our candidates will present a vision that calls for love in action. Let's demand deeds along with declarations, works along with words. Only then can the great potential of our nation be realized. 

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