"If the whole world were to crumble…"

“The function of the true state is to impose the minimum restrictions and safeguard the maximum liberties of the people, and it never regards the person as a thing.”
— Kant

“The more corrupt the State the more numerous the laws.”
— Tacitus

“Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.”
— Lily Tomlin


Source

Lots of upset people out there, today. I can’t tell you how many times I have been sent this piece by Melissa Clouthier, and this article in the WSJ and this by Michelle Malkin.

Along with several dozen emails despairing, “it’s all over; they have the votes,” or exulting that “Pelosi can’t pass it.”

Well, of course she can. There is no way Pelosi and Obama are going to let their 2300 page single-payer health care/college loan/kitchen sink bill not pass. This grand obsession to control almost 20% of the economy and an enormous chunk of American life is not going to go by the wayside simply because nearly 70% of the nation does not want it!

Representative democracy is not what these people are about, and they’ve been rather refreshingly clear on that point. They have no problem “forcing” this “shell” bill through.

“The essential notion of a socialist society is force.
— Milton Friedman

Barring something completely unforeseen -like California falling into the Pacific- this bill will be “passed”. A hundred rallies by thousands will not dissuade them, because none of this is about you, or what you want, or what you think. It is about the old thing, the same old thing: the illusion of power, and the pursuit of that illusion.

A few thoughts on power:

“The fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratic council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor.”
– John Adams

“In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: Who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: Who does not obey shall not eat.”
– Trotsky

“Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”
John Quincy Adams

“Despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy.”
— G.K. Chesterton

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”
— Camus

“Power is not alluring to pure minds.”
— Thomas Jefferson

Someone else wrote recommending this book: The End of the Modern World by Romano Guardini. Looks interesting.

One more quote, from Pope John Paul II:

“The fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decisions disappears.”


Consider that John Paul spent a good part of his papacy
repeating these four words over, and over:Do not be afraid.

Don’t be. There is nothing to be afraid of, if you believe that something greater than anything we can see is at work, here. It’s that old Corrie & Betsy Ten Boom Thanking God for the Fleas Story. Sometimes it’s difficult to give thanks in all circumstances. But it’s wholly necessary, if you believe that “all things work together for the good,” even if our minds do not understand how that might be possible.

“Clearly it is always useless to be disturbed, since being disturbed is never any help. Thus, if the whole world were to crumble and to come to an end and all things were to go wrong, it would be useless to get disturbed, for this would do more harm than good. Enduring all with tranquil and peaceful equanimity not only reaps many blessings but also helps the soul so that in these very adversities it may manage better in judging them and employing the proper remedy.

In all events, however unfavorable, we ought rather to rejoice than be disturbed, and bear them all with equanimity so as not to lose a blessing greater than all prosperity.”
— St. John of the Cross

Yes, you’re shaking your head and saying, “Anchoress, you’re joking, right? You’re kidding with this stuff, aren’t you?”

Well, no, I’m not. For the Christian this is where the rubber meets the road. Do you believe all the things you say you believe, or don’t you?

If you do, then take a page from people who spent their whole lives
trusting in all of that;believing, and going on faith, even while jabbing their fingers into the eyes of the culture (and of the authorities, when necessary) and facing hardship, ridicule, and sometimes imprisonment:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
— St. Teresa of Avila

It is the most basic -and challenging- of all lessons; and we had better learn it, soon, or we will fret ourselves into sick despair and spiritual weakness, at a time when we need to be very, very strong.

I know everyone is angry, and everyone is -despite all this good advice- going to keep fretting, because these are fractious people, in charge. But the battle that rages all around is not going to be affected by our frets. Keep doing what you’re doing. And fast, and pray.

Related:
Paul Ryan:Chimes in
“Do Not Be Misled”
Catholic Bishops: take too long to be perfectly clear
Ed Morrissey: Retail Health Care and Reform
Slaughter Solution: clever and unconstitutional
Obama’s weird “cross”
Beware the Ides of March
More on that
The “shell game” begins
Axelrod to GOP: “make my day”
Many, many links
The Shadow of the Jackboot

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Army Mom

    Thank you for the words of reason and comfort. I am not as angry as I am very very afraid.

  • Julie

    Thank you so much for posting this. I find that I vacillate between terror and strong faith – often at the speed of light. This will help.

  • http://miastucia.blogspot.com DC

    8( A bit grim for a Monday morning…”A hundred rallies by thousands will not dissuade them” Sad…but true I guess.

  • Maggie45

    I cannot even begin to tell you how much the following has helped me. I carry this with me always, and read it several times a day. I have given copies to others, who tell me it has helped them also. I love St. Francis de Sales. He is so gentle.

    Be at Peace by St. Francis de Sales

    Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life;
    rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,
    God, whose very own you are,
    will lead you safely through all things;
    and when you cannot stand it,
    God will carry you in His arms.

    Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
    the same understanding Father who cares for
    you today will take care of you then and every day.

    He will either shield you from suffering
    or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
    Be at peace,
    and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

  • JenniferL33

    It MAY be passed, but that’s not necessarily the last word on it. How about we offer a prayer or two asking for defeat of the bill. Remember, anything’s possible.

  • Susan

    Yes, it MAY be passed, but then again….we stand before God with our families, our little ones, and cry out to Him for deliverance. Then again…a small David took out a big Goliath. Then again…a Republican won the “Ted Kennedy” seat. So, we pray and continue on. This life is not the end for believers, but I do so want my children and grandchildren to live in freedom, with a better sense of responsibility to keep it if we get through this crisis.

  • TL

    Thanks for your prayer, thought, and hard work in preparing this post. We all need to remember to check our bearings and to cultivate patience before heading into this week.

  • http://www.praytel.net/blog Kevin Shorter

    Thank you for the link. I love the quotes from St. John and St. Teresa. Great examples for us.

    Your post does a great job balancing frustration that leads to action and prayer and remembrance that God is in control that leads to thanksgiving. Tough to live out. :)

  • Left Coast Conservative

    Thank you for your words. This time is trying and can be distressing for man’s soul.
    All of my fretting about our government, the way of the world, the “health” curriculam in the schools, etc. faded to nothing as I held the newborn baby of our dear friends. This precious child, born with Downs, is more – more than words can describe.
    Your blog is helping to maintain the focus on the eternal, letting the “noise” of the world fade to a murmur.

  • zmama

    John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila-two of my favorites. Words I need to remember right now.
    Thanks for mentioning the student loan legislation. Unlike the rest of the country we have been aware of this pending takeover of student loans for over 2 years since my husband works (for now at least) for a private student loan lender. The media has been virtually silent on this issue-even the conservative media.
    My concern is a federal takeover of student loans will one day be linked with mandatory government service. Now I am a big fan of volunteer service and spent one year post grad as a full-time volunteer myself-but it was with a Catholic organization. If “marriage equality” comes our way across the country as in DC I doubt any organization associated with the Catholic church will be on the federal approved list for volunteer service-let alone would students at schools faithful to the magesterium be approved for loans.

  • Old Buckeye

    Maggie45, I was going to reference the same prayer. It has become my guidepost.

  • SallyJune

    I will add my THANKS to all the others. Thanks for reminding me what side I am on. Thanks for providing an oasis of prayer, reflection, comraderie, and good sense in the Internet. Thanks for your sacrifice of time and talent to all of us that you never see.

    Thanks be to God.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, nor to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured. His natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights. . . .

    “Natural rights are those which appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness*, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others. Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection. . . .

    Society grants him nothing. Every man is a proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right.”

    – Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1791)

    * such as your natural right to seek healthcare without government involvement

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. . . . were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others. . . .

    “Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. Freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, ’tis right.”

    –Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

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  • Peter

    Anchoress,

    In regards to the provisions of the Senate bill that may direct federal funds, or unwilling private funds, towards abortion, I agree with you. (It is the “may” aspect that makes this so confusing and clever – it all depends on how different provisions of the bill would be interpreted and enacted). I am also aghast at the procedural manipulations the House leadership is contemplating in order to pass this bill – I wrote about this in a response to one of Wesley Smith’s recent posts if anyone wants to read it. I am in the process of composing a letter to my congressional representatives about this.

    But, having said all that, I am troubled by the premise that seems to underly much of your political commentary that the abuse of or will to power is somehow the exclusive domain of liberals (I know I am probably oversimplifying that, but, please, bear with me).

    In my considerable experience as someone who has both participated in and written about both politics and government, I can state with confidence that the will to power and the willingness to abuse the powers of the state -usually out of both good and bad motives-can be found all across the political spectrum. I have been active on both “liberal” and “conservative” causes, and have with people on both “sides” found myself having to dissent from their overly broad ideological statements on one issue or another.

    We are all sinners, and one of the great temptations is to see ourselves or our cause as “the good” opposed to the other’s “evil”. I do not mean to say that we have to always be “nice” in a sing kumbyah fashion. Politics will always be something of a blood sport. But this really is an area where we have to check our motives and temptations, just like we do in any other matter.

    I believe in Satan, the father of lies, but I just happen to think he does not care much who carries his water (or fire) for him, just so long as he can sit back and watch the chaos.

    One response in the realm of politics and governance may be to give more serious consideration to how the Catholic principle of subsidarity could actually work in these troubled times of ours.

    [Well, you are being very broad. If you read me with any regularity, you'd know that I have an extreme distaste for and distrust of most of the pols and political operatives in both parties -it routinely gets me called a RINO or worse by folks on the right, and the left has their fun with me, too- and certainly the Democrats won in '06 by pointing out the corruption and abuses of power found within members of the GOP. But the fact remains that right now, regardless of what may have come before in our recent history, we are watching an astoundingly corrupt group of people do astoundingly corrupt things, with a breathtaking arrogance. We're watching the Democratic Speaker of the House get enthusiastic about using a "clever but unconstitutional measure" (designed by a Democratic Congresswoman) to push through legislation that nearly 3/4 of the country has said they do not want. We've watched the WH try to use NEA grantees as propaganda operatives for their policies. We've watched incredibly bribery take place to pass this dubious bill. We're watching a president flick off the world and the concerns of his own citizenry, in order to advance one mighty imperative, and he's being unbelievably ruthless about it. When Bush wanted to reform immigration (a move I supported, btw) the nation told him no, and he backed off. The nation is telling this president "no" and he's saying "eff off. I won." I can't support that. Call it what it is. -admin]

  • Peter

    Anchoress,

    Thank you for your response. I know that I painted your political perspective in overly broad strokes – it is hard to get nuance right when one is rushing to write something. I respect your conviction to try to act on principles that go deeper than a particular party line or political ideology. I do not mean “try” to sound dismissive – I also “try”, just like I am a “practicing” Catholic (practice, practice, practice).

    [It's very difficult to be nuanced about anything, these days. -admin]

  • tnxplant

    Maggie45, thank you for the quote. I just sent it to a friend whose husband is going through a tough time with cancer treatment in hopes that it will bless them.

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  • Mila

    Thank you for posting these, especially the quotes of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. I needed to hear this today, even if on a different context.

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  • Jennifer

    Very good advice, indeed, dear Anchoress. While I pray this terrible bill fails, while I remind myself not to be afraid, while I read those words of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa over and over, I’m left with one nagging question:
    What are we going to do if/when it’s passed and becomes the law of the land? Will it even be possible to “undo” it later on? Government entitlements are never gotten rid of.
    Stop paying taxes and go to jail?
    I cannot help finance the murder of babies.
    I don’t know what we will do.
    Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not be afraid…

  • newguy40

    Jennifer hit the nail on the head. And, I am ashamed that this only occurred to me now…

    “I cannot help finanace the murder of babies. I don’t know what we will do.”

    I don’t know what I will do, either. My worry is that this HC will pass and become law. And, worse, the law will be so byzantine, we can never know where our money is being used.

    I am appalled and shocked at the same time.

    What will we do? What will I DO?

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  • IDKate

    Hey newguy40, if you’re a disciple of Christ then all you need to do is be about your Father’s business and follow His orders. So go ahead and give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Matt 22:20-22) That’s all any of us can and should do.

    Thank you Anchoress for your post today. You are truly a blessed gift in my life. Many many blessings to you!

  • IDKate

    Oh I forgot…..pray and fast too!

  • Manny L.

    I am not afraid. I am completely and whole heartedly angered. They are going to shove this crap down our throats despite what the American people want. I am furious. I have never been this mad over anything political in my life time. This is an outrage.

    And they are counting on the genereal public attitude of go along or at a minimum bear-their-cross acceptance. No way. The response has to be a loud REPEAL THE BILL. This has to be over turned. God help any Republican that doesn’t support repealing this monstrosity.

  • Maggie45

    My representative, Gabrielle Giffords, a supposed “Blue Dog”, tweets:

    “Tucson and Sierra Vista are very different, yet papers in both towns are supportive of health insurance reform. Tells us something.”

    I replied: “Are you going to be dictated to by a NEWSPAPER, and not follow the wishes of the PEOPLE of your district?”

    Polls in this district show the majority against this bill.

    [I think we all know at this point that -with a few exceptions- most of the congressional reps are as dumb as bags full of hammers. -admin]

  • mark of brighton

    Re: “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”
    — Camus

    Great quote. It reminds me of what I have thought about abortion: we don’t kill the unborn child because it is not human, we deny it’s humanity so that we can kill it with a clean conscience.

    We not only what to do what we know to be wrong but we want to think we are righteous in our wrongdoing. “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” I do what is wrong and sinful and so I embrace the darkness, I deny the light, what I know to be true and embrace a lie. A prescription for grievous sin.

  • Edie

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

  • Ken in Kansas

    Not to break the mood of serenity but geez A, did you have to break out the Corrie ten Boom and the fleas story? Next it’ll be the Corrie forgiving the guard story and I’ll have to be saying nice things about Pelosi and praying for her. And I was so enjoying griping, complaining and bitching about the present situation.

  • Mary in CO

    Anchoress, thanks so much for bringing St. John and St. Teresa to remind us to STOP wringing our hands, and rather to preserve our peace of soul. After all, spirit of despair or fear is not of God, right?

    PS — Pray and fast for our legislators. May the Passion of Christ strengthen them. Strengthen us.

  • Sr_Lisa

    Once again, Anchoress, you summarized what’s been going on in my head all day! I admit that I have found myself close to fretting in anger and frustration about the stupid games being played in DC, and yet the Sacred Scriptures tell us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” John 14:1

    We are called to pray, fast, and do our part. The rest is God’s.

    God bless!

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  • TeaPot562

    Not having health insurance is NOT the same as not having access to medical care. Many of the poor use ERs for accidents or the lack of having family physicians. In 1965, under Lyndon Johnson, congress enacted both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid was supposed to cover people who had enough income to meet their everyday expenses, but not enough to cover medical emergencies or catastrophic illnesses such as cancer & heart attacks.
    Over the 45 years since, the reimbursements under Medicaid have been reduced to the point where they don’t cover the actual expenses of the doctors & hospitals who provide care. Therefore, about 40% of medical providers no longer accept new patients whose only insurance is Medicaid.
    So, instead of designing a new batch of programs, regulations and agencies, WHY DON’T We JUST FIX MEDICAID? As it exists currently, it doesn’t cover the homeless, migrant farm laborers or people who haven’t been resident in the state for long enough.
    Also, having the poor always going to ERs is more expensive than expanding the number of 24-7 Urgent Care Centers. The Urgent Care Center would not have the expensive equipment such as MRIs and EKGs, but, under general supervision of a Family Practice MD and 3 shifts, each supervised by an RN, could attend to many of those currently going to the ERs. Heart Attach patients would still have to go to ERs, but much cost would be saved.
    Fixing Medicaid would require an increase in reimbursement rates (maybe 15%) and revising the rules to cover those not currently eligible.
    TeaPot562


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