To the editor:
In her October, 2009 Courier letter, Grace Adams comments, "… [W]hen final judgment comes for each of us, our Savior will not ask, ‘What has the state done for the poor and weak?’ He will ask, ‘What have you done?’ … The state does not need any more power."
As in Jesus’ judgment story (Matthew 25), Ms. Adams is correct at least in part. Supplementing her view, however, is the fact that "the state," or government at various levels, is part of our human reality. We are not born alone, we do not survive alone, and we hope not to die alone. We form part of a family, neighborhood, faith community, various organizations, and government. Tension arises between individuals and groups because each one is to watch out for the good of the whole, and the group is to watch out for the good of the individual. Vatican II’s Church in the Modern World explains: "The common good … is the sum of those conditions of life which allow social groups and their individual members … ready access to their own fulfillment" (#26).
Thus we are challenged not only as individuals to effectively care for the poor and weak, but also as members of society to examine our policies and procedures to see where they are causing problems for others. Our health care is fragmented and our policies leave much to be desired. I as an individual cannot build or run a hospital, but I can act regarding its quality.
Do we know our legislators’ positions on local, state, national issues before and after elections? Do we contact them about our concerns? If not, does this allow them to exercise power with impunity? Government is not the enemy; as Pogo famously noted, "We have met the enemy, and they is us!"
M. Gratia L’Esperance, RSM