I have read, reread, and reread the case you make for basing the natural law on Intellect instead of Will which you have made over and over — and now I see! If we make the natural law "changeable" by making it subject to the will, or even His Will, then there are no immutable natural rights. Our inalienable rights to life, liberty and property become disposable at the will of the strongest. If, however, we arrive at an understanding of the natural law through the use of reason, trying to understand the Intellect of God or His Essence or Self Consciousness, this is not changeable. If our natural rights are not immutable and inalienable, then (as you point out) they will be determined by whoever is the most powerful.Now all we have to do is convince the other 5,999,999,988 people in the world, and we might get somewhere. Teaching, learning, organizing and restructuring the social order so that individual justice and charity can operate most effectively and efficiently, however, is what social charity and social justice are all about, not redistribution and worship of the State. If you're anxious to read the two short works by Father William J. Ferree, S.M., Ph.D. on social justice and social charity before they are officially released in a newly edited combined version, you can download the texts of Introduction to Social Justice and the discourse on social charity from the CESJ website.
Then there is the whole issue of the natural right to property and the rights of property — access (opportunity) and use (exercise). It seems almost everyone who is insisting upon "helping the less fortunate" is really misunderstanding this point. Except in extraordinary circumstances, justice only demands equal access, that is, the opportunity to acquire property. Charity then operates for those who "through no fault of their own" can't provide for themselves, as Pope John XXIII's stated in Pacem in Terris. It's a matter of choice whether any individual or society wants to take care of those who won't provide for themselves. As St. Paul said, "those who do not work shall not eat."
Is there anyone else out there who is trying to educate our leaders, Catholic and others, about this critical distinction? Far too much of what passes as "social justice" these days, frankly, is socialistic. This is disastrous. If, as Pope Pius XI stated, socialism is not incompatible with Christianity because it abolishes private property, but because it requires the destruction of the natural law, then socialism by any name (as we saw in the Soviet Union and are seeing in China) destroys the social order. While we assume that many people espousing socialism are sincere in their convictions, are they aware that (however inadvertently) they are prescribing the destruction of the social order that natural law adherents from Aristotle down to Pope Benedict XVI have been trying to rescue for thousands of years?
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Understanding Easter Economics
We just received a most encouraging and substantive response to our series on "Easter Economics" that we completed yesterday. We realize that repeating the "same old thing" over and over can become extremely irritating to people, especially those who disagree with us. This gives them the escape route of being able to claim that we are being "rigid" in our unnatural insistence on basic principles of natural law. This permits them to feel released from any obligation actually to discuss these matters . . . if they ever had any such inclination in the first place. Every once in a while, however, a light goes on somewhere, proving that, no matter how highly educated someone is, there is always hope for him or her. Here's a paraphrase of the note we received, edited somewhat for clarity and to protect the writer from being attacked with pitchforks, torches, and guns by outraged villagers, capitalists, and socialists. We passed our version by the original writer for comment, so it is substantially the same note.