As I mentioned before, we have been going through religious education virtually these days. This Sunday marks the first Zoom meeting of the year. Usually, I am a part of the core team that helps with small groups and setting up and tearing down for the night. Who knows, maybe someone caught wind of these blog posts and decided I wasn’t fit for duty.
My wife and I got a message in the mail (or email) about right to life issues and how we should vote as Catholics. At least they didn’t list any specific candidates this time. They did make it clear that it was our solemn duty to vote for the sanctity of life and for politicians that would swear to uphold the sanctity of life. We got to have a long discussion about that as a family.
I have been reading a lot of John Pavlovitz’s pieces recently. Some of you even said that my work sounds a lot like his work. As English teachers, we are constantly on the look out for plagiarism. The gap between inspiration and out and out theft can be thin sometimes. I have never copied anything, but it would be wrong to say I wasn’t inspired by his work. I think it is only fair to mention him and plug his work. There were a couple of paragraphs that hit particularly close to home in his latest post. I’ll highlight them below.
“Goodness is not a matter how good you imagine you are.
It is not a matter of what you claim to believe.
It is not something you possess simply because you desire to possess it.
Goodness is determined by the way you move through this world: a world that is either more or less loving and compassionate and equitable and kind because of your presence and your decisions.“
His topic came up based on what he was taught as a Catholic growing up in Catholic school. He is no longer Catholic, but the teaching was poignant just the same. The entire idea was whether goodness is innate or whether it is a moniker that is earned. Are we good simply because we say we are good or do others (or God himself) get to choose whether we are good based on what we actually do and actually say?
If we manage to boil down our vote merely to one singular issue then we open the door to a whole lot of gray area. If one purports to be pro-Life on abortion than one could say and do many other evil things, but still call themselves good and be perceived as good because they pass that singular litmus test. In other words, I’m not sure goodness was meant to be measured that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.
Imagine if your son or daughter were given their grade based on one test in each subject. They could complete or not complete daily assignments throughout the six weeks (or nine weeks) and it wouldn’t matter. The judgment of their grade (or character) is based on that one grade. Seems ludicrous right? Yet, this is how the right to life movement wants us to react.
Of course, the reverse could also be true. We could find ourselves judging those folks just as harshly because they support a candidate we oppose. It’s an easy trap to fall into. This is where we go back to the eloquent words that Pavlovitz left us. Is the world more or less loving, more or less equitable, and more or less kind because we are in it? We can apply that to the candidates and to each person supporting or opposing the candidates. Ultimately that must be how each of us is judged by those here on Earth.