For the Sake of the Common Good, Save the Postal Service

For the Sake of the Common Good, Save the Postal Service April 8, 2020

Through the pride of his riches the rich man rules over other men, whom he can harm, and treats them badly, just as if they were not fellow creatures, and in this way the good name of mankind (that man is the image and likeness of God [cf. Gen 1.26]) is blasphemed – St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]

Alexander Marks: United States Postal Service Truck /Wikimedia Commons

The postal service is an important, indeed, vital civic institution. The American public relies upon it for various needs, among which are paying bills, getting medicine, keeping in contact with loved ones, and sending gifts during the holidays. It is an institution which goes back to 1792, and has been a backbone of the United States ever since its inception. This is not to say it has not had problems; what institution does?

Now is not the time to consider eliminating or privatizing the postal service. The people of the United States need its services, now more than ever. It is being used to help keep businesses afloat. It helps people buy needed goods and services without having to go out of their homes, risking the spread of the coronavirus. Its essential nature has only been highlighted even more during the current pandemic.

This does not move President Trump. He has been fighting against the postal service since he became president. Ever since he has taken his position of power and authority, he has been using it for his own private interests. When he sees an opportunity to privatize an element of the government, he also sees a new business interest from which he or his friends can benefit. It should not be surprising, therefore, that his goal, it seems, has been for the privatization of the postal service. To get there, the service has to be destroyed. His proposals for the 2021 budget, which include budget cuts for the postal service, indicated his push to weaken the postal system before the coronavirus became a serious concern. And it seems, as with the rich who create policies for their own benefit, he cares little for  the needs of postal workers which his policies would hurt. We see in him the model representation of St. Hildegard’s dictum, because those who labor and work, those who are poor and needy, will suffer the most from Trump’s policies. He treats them as objects to use and exploit, not as humans who should be honored and respected because they are made in the image and likeness of God.

Now, thanks to the coronavirus, the postal service is struggling to survive; it needs help from the government. It might have to shut down by June.  The cost for dealing with the pandemic is speeding its demise.  It should not be surprising, however, that Trump is opposed to helping it in its time of need.  It seems that he was responsible for how the postal service was treated in the recent stimulus package. Instead of receiving twenty-five billion dollars, which would have given it tremendous help, it received a ten billion dollar loan, which, of course, will only increase its financial burden. But, of course, Trump does not want to accept the role he has played. He continues to deflect, blaming other companies, like Amazon, for the troubles the postal service faces.  We must not accept such a claim, not only because it is ridiculous on the face of it. As analysts point out, the postal service benefits from its relationship with Amazon and other such internet services. But we must also look to what those services are doing: they are trying to help the post office in its time in need. Thus, Amazon itself is suspending its delivery service for the time being.

St Salvian asks, “Where can you find any one who is not poor, whether actually or by status, who is safe living beside a rich man? By the encroachments of the powerful the weak lose their belongings, or even themselves along with their belongings”. [2] We can ask, where can you find anyone who is not a part of Trump’s elite friends who is safe from him when he looks to use his position of office for advancing his business interests? We face a crisis as a nation. Instead of looking for the common good and preserving those services necessary for the public, Trump is doing all he can for dismantling it, hurting all the poor and needy who will not be able to get as effective and cheap a mail service as they did before. How many will lose their medicines? How many will not know how to pay their bills and lose goods and services? How many will find themselves having to risk going out of their homes and die, if Trump’s privateering dreams come to fruition?[3]

Let us work to preserve the postal service. Let Trump and other governmental officials know it must not be destroyed. Now, more than ever, the people of the United States need it. Even if some of us do not use it much, others do. We must look beyond our own petty needs and desires and for the common good:

Now, O son of God, take care to look with the pure eye of justice on God, as the eagle does on the sun, so that your judgments may be just without the taint of the selfish will. Otherwise, the high Judge, Who gave His command to mankind, whom He mercifully calls to Himself through penitence, may say to you: “Why have you killed your neighbor without my justice?” [4]

We must promote social justice. We must come together as one and work for the good of all. We must not neglect the needs of anyone. Essential goods and services must be protected. If we fail to do what we can, we will suffer long and hard for the consequences of our social sins.

For the Sake of the Common Good, Save the Post Office

[1] St. Hildegard of Bingen, “Letter 378” in The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen. Volume III. Trans. Joseph L Baird and Radd K Ehrman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 165.

[2] Salvian the Presbyter, “The Governance of God” in The Writings of Salvian the Presbyter. Trans. Jeremiah F. O’Sullivan (Washington, DC: CUA Press, 1962), 97.

[3] It is possible, Trump also sees this will help him in the election, because it would put a stop to mail-in absentee voting, which he views as a threat.

[4] St. Hildegard of Bingen, “Letter 324r” in The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen. Volume III, 122.

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