Misery in the midst of abundance…

Our man, Crude, offers “A fast and dirty test to tell a serious thinking from a Social Justice Warrior“. He establishes the need for such a heuristic like so:

I am sympathetic to desires to help out the less fortunate – I have them myself. Even if I disagree with most pleas for state channeling of wealth from the wealthiest to the least wealthy, I can understand – in principle – many of the urges and basic understandings on that front. That doesn’t translate into automatic sympathy for someone’s personal ideas of what the government should or shouldn’t do – most people who yammer about ‘helping the poor’ strike me as people who haven’t thought through their own suggestions, and don’t really care to. They think the mere fact that they are expressing concern about the poor (or, worse, “Social Justice”) automatically makes their views not just morally right, but good practical ideas on top of it all.

I encourage you to read his post to discover what his heuristic is, but for now I offer a quotation from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891) which I had read almost immediately before seeing Crude’s post.

“Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God’s providence, for the benefit of others. … 

“As for those who possess not the gifts of fortune, they are taught by the Church that in God’s sight poverty is no disgrace, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in earning their bread by labor.

“God Himself seems to incline rather to those who suffer misfortune; for Jesus Christ calls the poor “blessed” … and He displays the tenderest charity toward the lowly and the oppressed. These reflections cannot fail to keep down the pride of the well-to-do, and to give heart to the unfortunate; to move the former to be generous and the latter to be moderate in their desires. Thus, the separation which pride would set up tends to disappear, nor will it be difficult to make rich and poor join hands in friendly concord. …

“Neither must it be supposed that the solicitude of the Church is so preoccupied with the spiritual concerns of her children as to neglect their temporal and earthly interests. Her desire is that the poor, for example, should rise above poverty and wretchedness, and better their condition in life; and for this she makes a strong endeavor. … Christian morality, when adequately and completely practiced, leads of itself to temporal prosperity, for it merits the blessing of that God who is the source of all blessings; it powerfully restrains the greed of possession and the thirst for pleasure — twin plagues, which too often make a man who is void of self-restraint miserable in the midst of abundance; it makes men supply for the lack of means through economy, teaching them to be content with frugal living, and further, keeping them out of the reach of those vices which devour not small incomes merely, but large fortunes, and dissipate many a goodly inheritance.”

If you ponder Crude’s heuristic, I think you’ll see why the above seems very apt. Suffice to say that I loathe, on Catholic grounds, any hint of stoking the flames of “class warfare,” even when it comes dressed up as “Catholic Distributism”.


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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2 Responses to Misery in the midst of abundance…

  1. Crude says:

    Glad to see someone found this post useful. Of course I notice the grammar errors after the fact.

    I think the heuristic can be expanded to other situations (feminist conversations, etc) but it shines pretty brightly in this case.

  2. The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky surveys the reasons behind our now failed attempts to effectively help the poor in America (and citing it is to, intentionally, skirt the larger problem of State-Sponsored Usury) owing to America’s professionalising the charity system which was pretty effective when it was done locally (subsidiarity) and with the goal of getting the male bum to sober-up and return to his family to care for them.

    As one who is there same age as Israel, I am old enough to remember Charity in the hills of Vermont; it was extended to those who needed it and who received it and actualised it responsibly; that is, a drunken bum would not be getting a second and third chance to use his received charity to continue to get drunk.

    Charity was much more effective back then because the local Church knew the man and his circumstances whereas today’s compassion is, essentially, a liberal class warfare project and bums wander in and out of the system and receive enough charity to cover their food, clothing, rent, and so they can spend their money on drugs & ETOH while continuing to slough-off their familial duties.

    But, it is even worse now – FAR worse now – thanks to our Nobel Prize Winning Maximum Leader; those who operate homeless programs must now accept bums into their programs and provide them shelter etc while the bums get to use their ETHO as they desire. Prior to this insanity, a person had to pee in a cup to prove he was free of drugs & ETOH before acceptance into a program for what use would it be to house a bum if that me ants he was able to continue his self-destructive behavior?

    O, and don’t ask Mr Mark Cuban about his sensible heuristic….

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