Sunday, November 04, 2012
Thoughts on the Welfare State
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
As C.S. Lewis noted, the Greeks had several words for love: Eros, ἔρως, which, as you might suspect, involves erotic thoughts--sensual, sexual desire; Agape, ἀγάπη, which is difficult to define in a short sentence but here goes--an intentional desire to make things better in response to the dilute evil and general suffering of mankind; Philia, φιλία, which is the love we feel for our friends and family members; and, Storge, στοργή, which is the fondness we get for people, things or places from spending time with them or in them.
Agape is the word used in the gospels for God's love for us. It is either translated as love or as charity.
The word Greek word love in that scripture is agapao.For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.—John 3:16
John 4:8 uses the same word. ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν, God is love.
Agape is the word used in Jesus' description of the two new commandments in Matthew 22:37; and in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:43-46; and, it is the word, translated as charity, used in I Corinthians 13:13, quoted above.
For me, charity is love for strangers, for people we have never and may never meet. It is an act of giving which enobles the givers without enabling the givees. It is one way for people to be the best that people can be.
Our American government has tried to replace charity with welfare payments of varying sorts, collected from the medium to highly successful and given to the losers and less prosperous. Our current form of welfare is in no way charity. It does not involve love at any level. It does not enoble the tax-payers (as they are forced by law, ultimately by people with guns, to pay). Force and charity cannot coexist in the same act. Just so, erotic love and force cannot really exist in the same act; we call that rape, not love.
And this false, forced charity has a bad effect on the receivers, the moral hazard of removing love from the act of giving to and caring for our fellow humans and replacing it with force, with law divested of real charity. The receivers are not at all grateful and their self-hatred and self-destruction, which helped cause them to be less successful in the first place, only grows worse. And when there is little to no pain resulting from bad behavior, then there is little to no reason to cease behaving badly.
The Republicans stand for love, for real charity; the Democrats stand for force, for government compelling a destructive transfer of earned wealth and property. I could never be a Democrat and I can't understand how the Democrats think that welfare systems they have created are in any way helpful to the downtrodden.