Our Christian faith encourages us to reflect on experiences in our lives as teachable moments for us to reflect on how God is in the moment and what aspect of our lives to we need to address based on the challenges that we face. These teachable moments can happen to us personally or socially. I am convinced that the current budget dilemma with our government is one of those moments.
It is typical for us to express a knee jerk reaction to situations like this. I did this myself as the budget deadline came upon us and I, like so many others, went on to play the blame game. As I looked over articles that are trying to make sense of how we got here as a nation I thought it illuminating to read this particular reflection article from last month’s NY Times: One Size Fits All? Reflecting on the Role of Government – NYTimes.com
What I like about this article is that it offers some good questions and some basic resources and activities for people to take some quality time for reflecting on one of the deeper question regarding this budget crisis, What is the role and appropriate size of Government? Catholic social teaching keeps advocating a middle of the road approach with a government that is responsible for the welfare of the people (principle of solidarity) and the freedom of individuals and associations (principle of subsidiarity). But with regards to the role our government official and their civic responsibility the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” offers this instruction:
#410. Those with political responsibilities must not forget or underestimate the moral dimension of political representation, which consists in the commitment to share fully in the destiny of the people and to seek solutions to social problems. In this perspective, responsible authority also means authority exercised with those virtues that make it possible to put power into practice as service (patience, modesty, moderation, charity, efforts to share), an authority exercised by persons who are able to accept the common good, and not prestige or the gaining of personal advantages, as the true goal of their work.
As for the position of our American Bishops and their moral position on our budget I will offer a previous post that I wrote after the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering back in February of 2011. Putting the Poor and Vulnerable First in Budget Priorities.
God has given us a teachable moment, let us honor this gift by taking the time to reflect on the role and appropriate size of government during this budget crisis and consider the role of our legislators based on our Catholic social teaching. For a further resource I also offer this video URL from NY Times on an overview of the government shutdown.