Lesson 66- Welfare State and Misguided Love
By now it should be clear that any New World Order based on a super government welfare state is taking us in the wrong direction. Instead of taking us forward to a productive relationship where the human race reaches maturity by learning to accept responsibility for itself, it would move us towards the destructive relationship of childhood where the responsibility for all the important problems and decisions of our lives are taking over by a paternalistic government.
Unfortunately, that is exactly the direction that the Secular Humanists have in mind. They dream of a communistic states, like China and the former Soviet Union, where the government controls nearly everything, or a socialistic states, like Sweden, where the tax rate is around 75% and the government provides cradle to the grave care. This is because they are utopians who yearn for a better world in which poverty, disease, and all hardship will disappear and the quickest route to this dream is to give the power to some super agency, whose social planners will then assume the responsibility for everyones happiness. Like Robin Hood they will take from the rich and give it to the poor until, in the words of the leaders of the French Revolution, we will all have Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality.
You might ask, Whats wrong with that? Arent we all suppose to be free? Arent we all suppose to be brothers? Arent we all suppose to be equal? And my answer to these question is It depends upon what is meant by those words.
Does freedom mean the permission to be free, which is freedom from, or the ability to be free, which is freedom to. According to Eric Fromm, freedom from or permission is meaningless, unless it is preceded by freedom to, the ability. If, according to him, people are simply given the permission without the ability, they will escape from freedom because of the chaos that results from their own ineptitude. They will be like children who, thinking that freedom means no control, eventually become frightened by the chaos that results when everybody is doing their own thing. At this point, Fromm says, they will revert to a destructive sado/masochistic relationship by looking for some strong person to assume control over them. This is the point that Fromm made in his book, Escape From Freedom which analyzed why the German people were willing to follow Hitler and the Nazis. Fromm says it was because of the chaotic conditions in Germany following World War I when the Weimar Republic was unable to restore political and economic order. Under these types of conditions, people will seek a destructive relationship in which they give power to some dominant person or group that promises to restore order.
The same thing happens, according to psychologists, to people who end up joining cults in which they turn the total responsibility for their lives over to the cult leader. They suffer, say the psychologists, from the three Ds: debility, dependency, and dread. Debility means they lack ability to handle their own lives. Dependency means that because they are unable to assume responsibility for their own lives, they look for someone else to depend upon; dread means that they constantly are in fear because their world is out of control. Therefore, they are willing to turn control for their lives over to an Adolph Hitler, or Charles Manson, or David Koresh. In other words, chaotic conditions set all of us up for accepting dictatorial control. Thus, if freedom means no control, indicated by slogan like Do your own thing!, Let it all hang out!, Whos to say whats right or wrong? or If it feels good, just do it!, all of which have been churned out by our media and cultural gurus, then chaos is just around the corner and so is our psychological willingness to accept dictatorial control when the conditions are right. The underlying principle behind all this is that we can be no freer than our ability permits. Therefore, to increase freedom one must increase ability. Its counter principle is that the most effective way to enslave people is to eliminate or diminish their ability to be free.
Years ago, I read an article in LIFE Magazine on Sweden where an ultra-liberal socialistic government had created a cradle to the grave welfare system in which young people were permitted and encouraged to have sexual freedom from adolescence on. The consequences, they knew, would be taken care of by the state. The result was a growing number of unwed mothers. One sixteen-year-old mother was shown who, by all outward appearances, looked like a well-educated center class girl. When asked what her biggest problem was she said, I wish I had someone to tell me whether I should put a sweater on the baby or not. You dont get competency by encouraging incompetency or responsibility by encouraging irresponsibility.
This, according to Plato, was what destroyed every democracy because the incompetency of the people always led to chaos that always led to a dictatorship. It is also the observation of Will Durant, a famous historian, who after of lifetime of study history, came to the conclusion that when liberty or freedom destroyed order, the need for order will destroy liberty or freedom. We might conclude that we need order to survive and freedom to develop and survival always trumps development because it is basic. You have to survive before you can think about development.
It is interesting to note that all of the Communist Revolutions, which are a spin-off of the French Revolution, always began with the slogans like all power to the people or the dictatorship of the proletariat and ended up with the Communist Party leaders assuming total control over everybodys life.
And what about Fraternity? Arent we suppose to treat each other as brothers? Again, it depends on what is meant by the word. Is it the brotherhood of Christ in which, despite our different levels in life, we are all sons of the same Father in heaven and have some responsibility for each others welfare, or is it the forced brotherhood of Robspierre, Marx, Lenin, and Mao Tse Tsung in which the state mandates that we refer to each others as Citizen or Comrade and it, through it welfare programs, becomes the substitute for the natural charity that flows between real brothers?
When the Soviet Union collapsed, I saw an interview with a man who remembered the period before the 1917 Communist Revolution when the Czar ruled Russia. He was asked what was the worst thing that happened when Communism took control of Russia? I was expecting him to say that it was the mass extermination of the Kulaks, or the imprisonment in Siberia of anyone who fell out of favor with the Communist leaders, or the Secret Police, or the loss of personal freedom. To my amazement his answer was The worst thing that happened was that charity disappeared! I was dumbfounded. What did he mean?
As I thought about it, I suddenly realized that he was right. When the state assumes responsibility for dealing with everybodys problems through its social workers and agencies, there is no room left for the individual to assume responsibility for his neighbor. I am no longer my brothers keeper because the state is and the problem with that nobody is edified in the exchange. If you need $100 and I, out of my personal concern for you, give it to you, two people are edified. I am edified because it gave me an opportunity to exercise my ability to love by showing my concern for you. You are edified because you realize that you are connected to other human beings who care about you. Therefore it is the most edifying and efficient method for helping our fellow human beings. This was the point that Mother Theresa of Calcutta was making when she said that the destitute people that she helped were a gift from God to her because it gave her an opportunity to practice love or charity.
However, when the state takes over these responsibilities, no one is edified. The social worker, who provides the aid, is just doing his or her job. The person receiving the welfare does not feel gratitude because he or she is just getting whats coming to him or her. And the $100 which I gave to the state to give to you has dwindled to about $25 after it has passed through all the bureaucratic hands involved in the transaction. It is neither edifying nor efficient. It takes care of the body but it neglects the spirit because although the body is fed, the spirit is starved. No love grows. In fact, it breed indifference and ingratitude because the personal connection is eliminated. Thus, the Brotherhood promised by the communist revolution became Statehood. And from Gods point of view, it is a spiritual dead-end.
In the Book of Revelation, we are told that at the Last Judgment Jesus will evaluate our worthiness to enter the Kingdom of God according to whether we responded to His needs as they were presented to us in the needs of our fellow human beings. He will say, I was hungry and you fed Me. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was in prison and you visited me. And we will say, When Lord were you hungry, or thirsty, or in prison? And He will say, Whenever you did these things to the least of my brethren, you did it to Me.
However, in the super-welfare state of the Secular Humanist the only response that we can give is, Lord, the reason that I didnt respond to Your needs was because it was the responsibility of the state to do it. And He will respond, Then how did you ever expect to learn the cardinal virtues which are the goal that I set for all of my followers. Your spirit, because of lack of exercise, is not ready for the Kingdom that I have prepared for all those who love Me. So what was the worst thing that happened when Communism came to Russia? The worst thing was that charity disappeared.
And what about Equality? Arent we all suppose to be equal? Once again, it depends upon what is meant by equality? If we are talking about equal dignity, or equality before the law, or equal opportunity then the answer is Yes! If we mean equality of results, the answer is No!
The Secular Humanist hate the economic system of capitalism, which is a free economy, because it is based on competition and competition always results in inequality. As one writer put it, The price of freedom is inequality because when humans are free to exercise or not exercise their talents, there will be winners and losers, successful and unsuccessful; fit and unfit; right and wrong, all of which violate their view of equality.
In fact, equality has become a sacred word to them. Its value, in their eyes, has become so self-evident that the moment you raise it in a debate, the person on the side of equality automatically wins. And yet, nature, which is based on competition, has functioned for billions of years because it didnt believe in equality. It believed in the Law of Natural Selection and the Survival of the Fittest, a system that bothers the Secular Humanists and most of us, if we were honest, because it sounds so harsh and unloving. Walt Disney never would have created it. And, yet, according to our belief, God did.
Somewhere, perhaps in scripture, there is a quote that I cant quite recall. However, the gist of it is that Gods justice is kinder than Mans sympathy. Or, as my brother once put it, Discipline without love is tyranny but love without discipline is sentimentality. Or as the scripture say, God disciplines those that He loves. It doesnt say, God tortures those that He loves, it says discipline. Torture is gratuitous because it is pain for the sake of pain. Discipline, on the other hand, has a constructive end for those who are subjected to it.
Our animal nature, with its attachment to evaluating reality according to its pleasure or pain index, does not understand how pain, suffering or discipline could have any redemptive value, no more than it can understand why God the Father would require His Son, Jesus, to accept His own Passion. It doesnt understand crosses and, if given its way, would eliminate them from reality under the mistaken belief that it would be the most loving thing to do. And yet, reality contradicts this by constantly demonstrating what the weightlifters know to be true: No pain, no gain.
In a previous program I told of a vision received by one of my friends who, probably because of her lack of an education, had great intuitive powers. She often saw, sensed, and understood things that the highly educated among us never do.
Her vision involved seeing Jesus at the top of a road leading off into the horizon. He told her to follow Him, which she did. Soon they came to a crossroad with one road going to the left and the other to the right. Jesus said, May, lets take the road to the left and as they traveled down it, it was wonderful. Walt Disney couldnt have created a more wonderful scenario. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, the road was even, and the scenery was gorgeous. After a very short time, they came to a door. Jesus instructed her to open it and when she did a soul-chilling darkness that frightened her to death, came rushing out. Jesus closed the door and then returned her to the crossroads.
Lets take the road to the right He said. It was the total opposite of the first road. It was full of thorns and glass and jagged rocks. The sky was stormy. The road descended into deep valleys and rose to jagged mountain peaks and everywhere there was barrenness. After what seemed to be ten times longer than the other road, they came to a door. Once again, Jesus instructed her to open it. When she did, a brilliant, warm, all-enveloping loving light came rushing out that filled her with a sense of total fulfillment. After Jesus closed the door, He again returned her to the crossroads and said, May, I place these two roads before every human being and they are free at any time to choose one or the other. However, once they reach the end of the road, they must go through the door.
Do you get it? The road to the left is the road of hedonism that is taken by those who want a life of ease and comfort and it leads to the Kingdom of Darkness. It avoid all difficulties or crosses and chooses instead a life of amusement, a word that means without thought, and thereby ends up in Gehenna, the place of empty thought which Helen Keller described. The road to the right is the path of duty, responsibility, dedication, and self-sacrifice. Its the road to Calvary and it repels our hedonistic, animal nature.
Yet, those who take it find out things that those who avoid it never will. First, they begin to understand the words of the 23rd Psalm which says, Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and your staff they will comfort me
Second, they find out that whatever doesnt kill you, strengthens you! And that after every Crucifixion, there is a Resurrection to a higher level of life.
Third, they discover that the greatest growth takes place during the greatest challenges and that the only path to the fullness of life is the path of difficulty. It is interesting to note, the one of the biggest box office hits in history was the Lord of the Rings whose theme embodied duty, responsibility, dedication, and self sacrifice. There is something deep within our spirit that recognizes that they are essential qualities of that part of us that is truly human.
Fourth, they discover that real life is about developing not existing and that becoming is better than being and becoming is all about overcoming and overcoming is about struggle. As Frederick Douglas, the great black abolitionist leader, once said, Without struggle there is no progress.
In keeping with these observation, let me once again remind you of something that I said in a previous program. I once read a book that was given to me by a Messianic Jewish student many years ago who said that it was the greatest book he ever read. It was written by a mystic who had visions. I cant remember the name of the book or author but I do remember that it involved the battle between the Forces of Darkness and the Forces of Light. The imagery involved in his vision was similar to that used in the Lord of the Rings. A huge army of beast-like demons were attacking a Holy Mountain where the Forces of God were located. They were riding on the back of bickering Christians who were more interested in the theological issues that divided them then they were in the fact that they were assisting the Forces of Darkness. The author said that in his vision he met Jesus, the leader of the Forces of Light, took him to the different levels on the mountain that symbolized different levels of sanctity or union with God. Eventually, they came to a level which, according to Jesus, was the path least taken although it led to the highest level of sanctity. It was the path of pain, struggle, and difficulty. Need I say more to convince you that the problems and difficulties of life, known to Christians as crosses, have an important redemptive value for us?
Perhaps the problem is that we misunderstand God because we misunderstand life. Philosophers, like the Existentialist, Jean Paul Sartre have rejected the idea of an all-powerful, all-Good, God because they can not understand how such a God could allow pain and suffering into His creation. Our hedonistic right lobes, which evaluates reality according to whether it produces pleasure or pain, concludes that pain and suffering are evil and therefore, if there was a God who created them, He must be evil. Thus, they see only three possibilities. Either the God who created pain and suffering is evil, which is the position of Schopenhauer who advised us that we should throw this so-called gift of life back into the face of the Creator by refusing to reproduce and then committing suicide. Or, as some of the heretic in the Early Church claimed, there were two gods, one who was evil that created the natural world, and one who was good that created the spiritual world. Thus, they too rejected the flesh and advised that sex and reproduction should be avoided because any continuation of the flesh was to cooperate with the evil god. Or, as Jean Paul Sartre, the French, communistic philosopher concluded, there is no god. The universe is accidental and absurd and therefore, since there is no god to save Mankind; Mankind must save itself by inventing its own meaning and purpose.
However, there is a fourth option. Maybe pain and suffering are part of the goodness of the world. Maybe it has a redemptive value that our hedonistic animal nature cannot understand. Our animal nature, to which the right lobe of our brains is more closely allied, believes that they are bad and thus, when confronted with them shrinks away in horror. Young children, whose rational left lobes have not full developed, interpret the pediatricians needle as bad even though it inoculates them against a serious disease and when required to take a medicine, they refuse to take it unless it is heavily sugar-coated. Even as adults, how many of us still find our bodies instinctively pulling away from the doctors needle? Since this action is part of our non-verbal expression and non-verbal expressions are connected to the right hemisphere or lobe of our brains, and it is this lobe that is closest to our animal roots, it seems logical to conclude that our animal nature believes that pain is bad. When this misconception is carried to the theological level, we erroneously conclude that all pain and suffering comes from the devil and that God simply tolerates its existence. Never would it occur to our hedonistic right lobe that pain and suffering might be gifts that are essential to our lives.
To illustrate this point to my students, I pretend that my desktop is an electrical hot plate upon which I have placed my hand. As I jump around, screaming in pain without removing my hand, I shout Novacaine! Novacaine! Get me some novacaine! Then I pretend that I am injecting novacaine into my arm and as it begins to take effect by deadening the pain I say, Thank God! I almost had to take my hand off of that plate! By the way, whats cooking? I smell something cooking?
The kids look at me like I am crazy. You stupid person. Why didnt you take you hand off the hotplate? Your hand is still burning and you dont know it because you have shut off the pain. Then I point out to them how the logical left lobe would look at pain. It would see that pain is a gift that protects our bodies from harm. Like the red lights on the dashboards of our cars that warns us when the oil is low or that the car is malfunctioning, pain serves the same purpose for our bodies. First, it tells us that something is wrong and second it motivates us to do something about it. Shutting it off before it has served these functions is like disconnecting the warning lights in our cars. Without pain, we couldnt survive. In fact, I once read that the reason that people with leprosy had missing fingers and limbs is because the disease destroys the nerve-endings that carry the pain message to the brain. Consequently they can accidentally cutoff a finger while cutting bread without any sensation and, therefore, are constantly having accidents of which they are unaware. If this is true, then it points out how essential pain is to our survival and rather than being a curse, it is a blessing.
Of course, nobody would be foolish enough to put their hand on a hotplate and then deaden the pain with novacaine so that they couldnt feel it. Are you sure? Life is full of examples of people who, in the midst of physical and emotional pain, seek ways of removing the pain, without dealing with the problem. Just visit any bar where the wounded of the world choose to drink themselves into oblivion rather than face the challenges that life has put before them. I had two parents who lived lives of suppressed pain in which they preferred deadening the pain to facing the problem that was causing the pain. And, as the problem, through lack of attention, got worse, so the amount of alcohol needed to suppress it increased. And what about todays drug culture which not only involves the illegal drugs but also the legal ones whose whole purpose is to minimize pain without dealing with its source. Now, dont get me wrong, I am not for pain and, like most people, I try to avoid it but I do understand its rational purpose and know that the way to eliminate it is to solve the problem that is causing it.
Because our arational animal nature does not understand this, it easily can be convinced that eliminating pain all together would be a good thing. To illustrate this point, I give my students a thought problem.
Suppose, I say, that you took your little sister for a walk and as you reached a busy intersection, your mother got off the bus on the opposite corner. Your little sister, seeing her, cries out Mommy and, pulling her hand from your grasp, she rushes out into the street. She is hit by a car and is now lying in the center of the street screaming in pain. The bone in her elbow has broken through the skin and she is covered with blood. If at that moment God appeared and said, Just snap your fingers and all pain will disappear from the earth, would you snap your finger? Think about it!
The majority of my students say that they would snap their finger because how could anyone be so heartless to allow their little sister to suffer. Then I point out to them some of the consequences of their decision.
Their little brother at home is playing in a nearby lot in his bare feet. He has just stepped on a large, jagged piece of glass. However, he doesnt know it because there is no pain. As he walks, the glass is riding up-and-down in his foot, cutting through tissue, muscles and an artery. He is bleeding to death. Meanwhile, their little sister has been taken to the hospital. They treat her for the damage to her elbow and then ask Is there anything else that hurts? She says, No, I feel fine! However, she has a ruptured spleen and other internal injuries which, if not treated, will cause her to die.
This is what happens when we think with our feelings rather than with our logic. This is what happens when we think on the micro or personal level rather than on the macro or societal level. This is what happens when we think in the short term rather than the long term. This is what happens when we allow hard cases, which tug at our emotions, to become the basis for our laws. This is what happens when we base our decisions on situational ethics which while solving a problem in a specific situation creates a greater problem when applied to general situations. This is what happens when well-intended persons allow misguided love lead to unwise decisions. This is what happens when we look at the world from our point of view rather than from the Creators point of view. This is what happens when Secular Humanists, denying the existence of any Creator, set out to save the world themselves.
And this is probably just one of the deeper meanings that is hidden in the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which, the more we meditate upon it reveal multiple layers of meaning. Why would God the Father ask His Son to go through such a painful experience? Didnt He see how He cried, trembled, and pleaded -all of which are nonverbal expression coming from the right hemisphere of the human brain? It was His flesh that, following it own natural law based on pleasure and pain, was rejecting the whole idea as a bad idea. Yet, in the end, his spirit overcame his flesh when He said, Thy will, not My will be done.
In one stroke, He reversed the disobedience of Adam and reopened the channels of graces with our Father in heaven; demonstrated that the spirit could overcome the flesh; showed that pain and suffering could have a redemptive value; proved that life continued after death; and acted out the path of struggle that life must follow if it wants to attain the fullness of life. In a way, He was saying, No pain; no gain! or without struggle there is no progress.
This is an unhappy message for our animalistic nature because it means that life has to be lived. It is a gift but the gift contains talents and there is an accounting that we must give on how we used them.
Listen to what St. Paul has to say in the 2nd Timothy 4:6-8.
Beloved, I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure (or death) is near at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but to all who have longed for His appearance.
These are not the words of a man who thinks that life is about existing. These are the words of a man who realizes that, as a Christian, he is part of a great quest and that he has a responsibility to use his talents towards the coming of GodsKingdom. Later, in another verse he says that we should train like an athlete to win the race and that he did not want to discover that after he had warned us of the need to make an effort to use our talents that he, himself, lost his own salvation by failing to follow his own advice.
Does this sound like salvation is an automatic given? No! It sounds more like a call to enter the struggle towards the coming of GodKingdom through the effort that we make in using our talents. In my next program, I will take up this issue of struggle and how it relates to the philosopher Hegel, Communism, and our Christian beliefs.
Well, I see that my time is up. Heres Dom!