When discussing the free and virtuous society with people, I have noticed a disturbing tendency. Contrary to many portrayals of people as apathetic, I find them to be deeply interested in and concerned about the ills facing our society. It is beyond dispute that the human heart is generally in the right place. What is disturbing is that many people tend to polarize the discussion of these ills. They separate people into ideological camps and align themselves with one or the other. Some show little, if any, interest in authentic dialogue with the other camp and often forsake reasoned debate in favor of dismissive epithets. Finding solutions for those deprived of basic human necessities—the ultimate goal of both camps—gets lost in the struggle to achieve the dominant ideological perspective. But achieving ideological dominance is not what feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, or houses the homeless.
We must resist this tendency. The promotion of a free and virtuous society cannot be based on an assumption that we are the know-it-alls with every answer. Rather, liberty and morality offer the best opportunity for people in all socio-economic circumstances to prosper. When free of a centrally planned societal and economic system, people have an incentive to use their creativity and intelligence to achieve the most efficient means to provide for the well-being of the greatest number. Virtue dictates that this creativity should be directed toward meeting each person’s basic human necessities. This vision will not become reality by simply vilifying those opposed to it.
Through the programs and publications that you support financially, we at the Acton Institute promote a free and virtuous society not as an airtight, esoteric argument, but as a realistic vision that can provide for human betterment. Your support allows us to help keep the minds as well as the hearts of the next generation of church and business leaders in the right place.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico