The alternatives, he says, are “deranged Stalinist politics” in North Korea, creating “a land of stunning desolation and ugliness, both spiritual and material.” Or “Taliban Afghanistan, which, just months before 9/11, marched its cadres into the Bamiyan Valley and with tanks, artillery and dynamite destroyed its magnificent cliff-carved 1,700-year-old Buddhas lest they — like kite flying and music and other things lovely — disturb the scorched-earth purity of their nihilism.”
One beautiful Saturday this October, 15 men at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River, Mass., were ordained as permanent deacons in the Catholic Church. They serve as heralds of the Gospel, commissioned to “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, practice what you teach.” Later that day, I was present as Deacon Tim delivered his first homily, at his parish church of St. Stanislas. He echoed Pope Francis, who echoes the Gospel, in encouraging those in the congregation to come to know and trust God and His infinite mercy. Faith, he said, is trusting enough to change your life.
Heaven knows the world could use both mercy and justice, with confidence in the truth.
We have a choice. Do we seek and encourage the good — in our lives and, yes, in our politics? These things — our lives, our ethics, the quality of our enterprises, our dedication to stewardship of the gifts we have been given and men have died to protect — are intimately related. We’re free to disengage, but it’s really not a moral option.
“Campaigns and elections ... personalities and peccadilloes (are) things that come and go,” Krauthammer writes. “Partisan contention that characterizes the daily life of a democracy -- the tentative, incremental, ever-improvised” are political realities. But what are they informed by? What are we arguing about? What are we fighting for? What are we working toward? Who are we? Who do we live for? These are things that matter. Politics without conscience and conscious abandonment of politics are recipes for civilizational disaster. Politics aren’t everything, but they are inescapable. Wise engagement makes all the difference. Men of faithful dedication, living lives of discernment, light the path in communities and in the halls of power. We know the alternatives, and that’s not a choice we can live with.
(Kathryn Lopez is the editor-at-large of National Review Online www.nationalreview.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)