Three Simple TruthsTHOMAS C. REEVES
Three statements I often hear and read, especially from leftist sources, need brief clarification. All three are essentially about the same vital issue.Don't be judgmental
You can't impose your morality on others
Secondly, "You can't impose your morality on others." The whole history of the human race is about imposing moral values on others. In the first place, it's an essential role of parents. Children with wholly permissive parents frequently become extraordinarily difficult and unhappy adults. Moreover, all social structures have required behavior, imposing principles on all participants. When leftists in this country attack the public role of churches, they are trying to limit the authority and credibility of religion, i.e. impose their secular morality on the religious majority. When conservative Christians attempt to limit or outlaw abortion on demand, they are attempting not only to save lives but to impose their principles on the majority who think otherwise. One of the plainest lessons from history is that much of life is a struggle between rival sets of moral principles, even when the specific issues are officially defined as economic, political, military, and medical. The French Revolution and the Terri Schiavo case were basically clashes about morality. The history of taxation in America is a story about clashing moral values, and the winners in the struggle most assuredly impose their beliefs on all of us.
You can't legislate morality
Thirdly, "You can't legislate morality." Of course you can, and do. Virtually all laws are reflections of moral principles. From capital punishment to traffic legislation, lawmakers are in the business of transforming moral values into laws. This is true for all varieties of republics, democracies, and tyrannies. By the way, this simple truth is an argument in this country for having legislators who represent all walks of life, not just attorneys. Lawyers can frame the wording of the laws, but the ideas behind them can and should be weighed by a wide variety of citizens. Wouldn't it be interesting to see advocates of racial and sexual quotas try to impose such a limit on lawyers in Congress? That would be a moral statement in itself, and of the highest rank. Yes, I'm being judgmental.
Thomas C. Reeves. “Three Simple Truths.” The History Blog.
Reprinted with permission of the author, Thomas C. Reeves.
Thomas C. Reeves is a fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and the author of several books, including A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy, The Empty Church : Does Organized Religion Matter Anymore and America's Bishop, the biography of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Copyright © 2005
Thomas C. Reeves
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