The Good Life, No. 4: Love


Ultimately, political and economic conservatives are concerned with liberty. Each of the planks in the freedom-loving platform is directed at the things Americans need to protect it: lower taxes, less regulation, fewer government programs, reformed legislation. We’re consumed by this struggle — maybe rightfully so, but then again, maybe not. The response to that statement depends entirely upon what we use our freedom for.

Pope John Paul II in a prison cell, forgiving the man who made an attempt on his life

“Freedom,” John Paul the Great wrote, “exists for the sake of love.” Love, caritas, is the greatest of those things that abide, those permanent gifts that are also hallmarks of our humanity. So when attempts are made on our freedom to love, we ought to react strongly.

This is the ethical problem with the welfare state: Someone, somewhere has decided that removing someone’s wealth by force is justifiable, simply because a need exists elsewhere. However, legislating morality only discourages the generosity it attempts to impose. When my wealth is taxed away to support a stranger, I’m more likely to shrug my shoulders when I see someone in need and to assume the government will address that need, even though I might otherwise have donated freely.

And thus the government has effectively stamped out my opportunity — my freedom — to love. This is just one instance of the dehumanizing effects of coercion.

Talk to Me: What other hallmarks of our humanity can we bolster by escaping force?

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