Politics, Economics, and Materialism – What are the Core Issues?

Many people have turned their attention to the political conventions these past few weeks, where many speeches outlined various positions of both the Democratic and Republican parties. There can be no doubt there is a feverish push to win over voters, because much is at stake. Anyone voting in the presidential election should take the time to become informed about the issues and try to understand where each party stands on these issues.

We live in an age of information in which knowledge would appear to be everything. In the worlds of business and politics (i.e., statesmanship), it seems that those who control the flow of information rule their domain. Hence, political parties put a “spin” on their versions of reality in the hope that individuals will be persuaded to vote for this or that political platform.

However, there is a danger in clinging to a certain kind of knowledge that can separate us from others and make us feel superior to them. There is a self-deception in thinking that we have the world figured out and that we are in control. Knowledge is a good thing, but it needs to be brought into proper perspective. We must use our intellect to understand the world but also consider what it means to be a human being in relation to other human beings. There is a dangerous illusion to believing we have life “well in hand” and can succeed on our own terms. Even the Bible warns of this explicitly by saying, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written . . . God catches the wise in their own ruses . . . and again . . . the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”

Back in 1973, a gentleman by the name of E. F. Schumacher wrote a book entitled Small is Beautiful that promoted a view of economics that operated “as if people mattered.” One of Schumacher’s principal concerns was that an economic system focused myopically on growth, efficiency, and production without consideration for the moral, spiritual, and genuine economic needs of the individual was a system headed for disaster. While serving on the British Coal Board, he concluded that the traditional view of economics was a kind of religion mostly based on a materialistic view of reality. Instead of loving and valuing people, things like growth, efficiency, and production became foremost in the corporate climate – be they within government, academia, or the corporate world. Schumacher noted that society was approaching a time when the Earth would be under great stress and at the loss of a body of wisdom to actually live by. “In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system that mutilates man.”

So if politics puts a “spin” on things (what can we really believe?), economic systems do not value the individual (they are just discarded), and if the materialistic desire to have “things” is at the foremost of peoples’ thinking (and desires), then how do we make sense of the rhetoric and dialog that fills our heads with information and so-called “knowledge”? This is where we seek wisdom and, ultimately, truth. This is where we identify our core values and beliefs that we will act upon for the good of others, not just ourselves. Core values provide an identity and self-worth. They give meaning to life.

Core Value #1:  Life is precious, sacred, and valuable. The human being in the womb is not a “potential” human being. It is a human being with “potential.”

Core Value #2:  People should be free to worship and practice religious liberty. We are subject to governing authorities, and both church and state can co-exist and be helpful to each other. The problem arises when government begins to trample on these rights of religious liberty and freedom. In the Old Testament, King Darius took away religious freedom from the Jewish people, but the prophet Daniel, a man of wisdom, chose to continue to exercise his freedom to worship. Daniel was punished, but he gained freedom for the Jewish people because of his obedience in putting God first.

Core Value #3:  Family. Men and women have been created to come together and form relationships through marriage and have children. Wisdom, the course of history, and even social scientists all agree that marriage between a man and a woman open to the procreation of children is the “basic cell of society.” Alternatives have not worked in the past nor will they in the future.

Core Value #4:  Honor the Body. The body is sacred and the use of it for the creation or consumption of things like pornography is harmful to all involved, including the participants, the producers and the spectators/consumers. Pornography is harmful to children, families, and is idolatry. Pornography reduces the human person to being just an object to be consumed and ultimately discarded.

Core Value #5:  Parents should be the primary educators and role models for their children. Many parents abdicate their sacred duties to the government to raise their children. The notion that it takes a village to raise a child is wrong-headed. Once again parents, per all the scientific research on hand, are the best way for a child to learn the difference between right and wrong.

Core Value #6:  The leaders of our nation are called to defend life and liberty and not be involved in promoting a culture of death.

We must live fully as citizens of this world without letting ourselves be controlled by its spirit of consumption and competition.  This is no small task.

Please consider carefully who you vote for this November. Your very freedom may be at stake.