What Do You Mean By Supreme?

What Do You Mean By Supreme? July 3, 2023

The Supreme Court has spoken. And in doing so, proves the languishing of capitalism and the betrayal of democracy for the plutocracy. Ancient Athenian democracy was betrayed by its plutocrats. So history, at least, rhymes. While this blog is not about the Supreme Court of the United States, it is about the nature of supremacy. What do we mean by supreme? Does it have the same meaning as sovereign? Or does it merely mean superior? In a way, the SCOTUS is supposed to be the most superior of the courts in the US, never mind military and tax courts which appear to be able to disregard the SCOTUS with impunity. What do the most recent rulings mean about supremacy?

White Christians As Supreme

The worst possible ruling so far has been the religiously based rulings. Overturning Roe v. Wade and refusing service based on religious principals, are by far the most discriminatory rulings. A white Christian postal worker is allowed to refuse to deliver packages for Amazon on Sunday. May a member of a minority religion do the same? Any employer denying a similar request can do so. Religious rights are not affirmed in this ruling.

Religious tolerance is argued by John Locke (Letter Concerning Toleration) to allow anything that may legally be done without religious rites — serving bread and wine in one’s own home — can be done with religious prayers involved. It causes no harm to society whether holy communion is served in a church by a priest or lay person. A church may forbid a lay person from doing so. But the law should not. A business person practicing discrimination because of race, ethnicity, or gender is unlawful. Citing religious reasons for doing should not excuse the practice.

Wealth As Supreme

John Dewey asserts “the best education for the best is the best for all.” Having wealth will lengthen a person’s life span, allow them more comfort, and empower them to do many things an impoverished person cannot do. But it does not make a person more intelligent. I hear many arguments that affirmative action promotes disqualified people over others. The incidences where this is supposed to have happened is often told from the point of view of someone who did not get the promotion. Affirmative action allows some people to make excuses for failure.

Were unqualified students getting into Ivy League universities based on race, ethnicity, or gender? That is not likely. Qualified students are rejected by universities for many reasons. Mark Vonnegut told his father Kurt if Harvard Medical School only took the most qualified students with no consideration given to legacy students, the only students accepted would be Asian women.

The students who need loans for schooling do not have families paying their tuition and board. This should be obvious to a person of moderate intelligence. Unqualified students get loans to attend colleges. Qualified ones receive them too. Yet, these loans are not like others. They do not get bankruptcy protection. The government, however, provides protection and bailouts to people who mismanage huge amounts of money. Why is this so?

Proposed Alternatives

  1. Make grace supreme. Allow for forgiveness of loans that overburden individual  people and families and countries. Grant jubilee.
  2. Make love supreme. Allow for the best to go to the least too. Stop downgrading and then punishing public educators for failing when they are not given the freedom to succeed.
  3. Make goodness supreme. Quality efforts should not be punished for being the least profitable.
  4. Make peace supreme. Stop supporting a violence ethos. Make building more valuable than destroying.

These alternatives are what people desire. Wealthy plutocrats offer consumerist goods for leisure times that hardly exist for many people. We get toys when we need tools. Consumers need to be citizens. And Christians need to find the way of Jesus. Yet, too many people claim the only rights that matter are rights to own the toys. This mass brainwashing is horrifying. Invented injuries get attention while our leaders ignore the common good.

I do not see any legitimacy in this bought and paid for court of people with lifetime tenure. I refuse to think of them as Supreme in any sense of the word. Nor do I stand in awe of their buyers. I cannot say I am defiant. I simply do not comply with injustice. To hold grace, love, goodness, and peace as supreme practices means I need to be more thoughtful about what I say and do. It is a good way.

C. Don Jones serves as pastor to the Andersonville and Heiskell United Methodist Congregations in East Tennessee. He is the author of Starved to Death for Love; Working with Children in Rural Poverty and The Sun Still Shines; The Legend of A Drunken Pastor. Check out his website thesunstillshines.org. You can read more about the author here.

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