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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

There is no one political program, no one political
regime, even democracy, that necessarily follows from the
love of Christ. Each political system has pluses and minuses,
attractive and dangerous features. The key to a good society
is good people. Good people will make good systems. But
good systems will not make good people. Peter Maurin, the
thinker behind Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement,
defined the good society as simply “a society in which it is
easy to be good”.

To say the system is secondary sounds again like a cop-
out. But it is true, for bad people in a society with good
structures will make the structures bad or misuse the good
ones, while good people in a society with bad structures
will make the structures better. It is like putting good peo-
ple in decaying old buildings. They will improve them. But
put bad people in good new buildings and they will destroy
them. An ancient Chinese proverb says, “When the wrong
man uses the right means, the right means work in the
wrong way.”

If people were saints, our political problems would be
solved. They would not be solved magically, but they would
be solved as God would solve them because God would solve
them. For a saint is simply someone who lets God in. And
when God is in, He acts.

Of course, this sounds scandalously simplistic. But it is not
meant to substitute for the hard, specific questions, ques-
tions about institutions and laws and structures. These are
also important. But this is more important.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You, (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1990) pp. 216-217

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