Friday, October 21, 2011

Colbert, Charity, and a Christian Nation

I recently posted the attached quotation from Stephen Colbert to my Facebook page.  It captures in a satirical way my own confusion when hearing arguments that A) we should live by the precepts of Christianity (to the point of making them an overt part of our government), and B) we should dismantle social programs that help the elderly, sick, poor, unemployed, etc.  I'm not confused that I hear these two arguments.  I'm confused that I hear these two arguments coming from the mouths of the same people.

As often happens when posting politically-minded content, I got some dissenting opinion.  In this case, I had several back and forth posts with a friend of mine who believes that Social Security as it now exists should be phased out and that private and church charities would do a better job of caring for those in need than government programs.

I'd been meaning to post something to this blog on these issues for some time, so this conversation prompted me to finally do so.  But there's also a meta-point to this post, which is the value in trying to understand people with different points of view.  It's all too easy to demean opinions we do not share, as well as those who hold them.  Lord knows I fall into this temptation more often than I care to admit.  But, despite the limitations of Facebook and similar media, seeing that people you know, care for, and respect have different views on things than you do is a helpful reality check.  Sure, snark often reigns supreme in such venues (again, I speak as a frequent perpetrator of snark, despite my best intentions), but a reminder that we are not antagonists but fellow travelers in the world might help us look for transcendent solutions rather than victory in our debates.

Now, having said all that touchy-feely stuff, here are a few arguments I've heard to support the contention that social programs are not something the federal government shouldn't be involved in and why I am not in agreement with these arguments.  I'll try to put a limit on the snark, although I make no promises.  I'm a weak and flawed man.