Sunday, December 30, 2012

Institutionalized Love


Elie Wiesel says “the opposite of Love is not hate, but indifference.”

This statement is the key to understanding the public and social theology of Love.

Human beings know love.  Most have experienced it.  Most can tell when it is present and when it is absent.  Because of its universality, we can use love as a transcendent point of judgement in creating a common understanding of the social good.  What enacts, embodies and encourages love is what is good.  What impedes it is not good.  This does not answer every question; there is room for serious discussion of what encourages and what discourages love, but it gives us a commonly understood premise, because we all know what love is.  

“God’s Will” and “Justice” are not commonly understood experiences, in that each requires training into a tradition to access their meaning.

Our social task is to “institutionalize Love.” To create the human institutions of government, economics and civil society that operate routinely on the principles of love.  

To say so sounds like hopeless niavete, until one returns to Elie Wiesel.  The opposite of love is indifference. 

We live in a system of “institutionalized indifference.” 

Remember when Ron Paul was asked in one of the GOP debates, what should happen to the uninsured person who arrives at an ER without the means to pay for his care?  Congressman Paul waffled on the answer, but the sentiment of the crowd was clear.  He made his choice, and now he should take the consequences.  The rest of us should be indifferent to his fate.  The underlying theory has to do with the fear of the “moral hazard.”  If society is not indifferent to the pain brought on themselves by the irresponsible, then society is incentivizing irresponsibility.   Maintaining a strict boundary between those human conditions that we, as a society, care about and those we are to be indifferent to is the right wing’s battle.  If people care about others too much, there will be a breakdown of indifference and the present social order will crumble.


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