On shutdown of government

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | October 2, 2013

Good of nation is at stake

E pluribus unum. “Out of many one.”

(Joe Heller | For The Compass)

It’s our nation’s motto. Lately, however, it seems as if our government runs on the reverse: “Out of one, many.”

Whether in regards to debt ceilings, health care reform or government spending, it seems the interests of many groups splinter Congress and outweigh the good of our one nation.

As the government went into shutdown Oct. 1, the good of our one nation was damaged as individuals were forced onto unpaid furloughs, parks, historical sites and government facilities shut down and the stock market wavered — threatening not only individuals with retirement account mutual funds, but international economic stability as well.

Why? Because our Congress — called out of many to be one front that leads our nation — cannot reach an agreement on many things, from health care to government spending. And, sadly, it is not a healthy disagreement that leads to working out details. No, private interest groups with private agenda can and do control members of Congress. If one group or interest cannot have its way — 100 percent — they will not work with anyone else. And the government stalls.

The good of one nation and its many united members is at risk because our elected officials cannot reach compromise: the greatest good for the most people.

In his homily at Mass on Sept. 30, Pope Francis (not referring to the U.S. government) noted that a church that focuses only on how well it functions and having “everything is in its place, but without memory and without promise,” he said, “will not work out.”

“It will be the church of the battle for power,” the pope added. “It will be the church of jealousies … that arise when there is no memory and no promise.”

Jealousies and power battles are threatening our government. They are stealing our memory of a great, united nation. That united nation should work for the good of its people and fulfill the promise of our founders: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity …”

Our government leaders have forgotten this promise — which itself was a compromise of many diverse groups and agenda — in their desire to serve many private interests. Their interest must turn back to we the people — and to the weakest among us first.

Pope Francis added that a healthy church must respect, care for and honor the vulnerable. “A people who do not care for their elderly and for their children has no future,” he said.

The same is true for a healthy government. The squabbling of Congress does nothing to honor or care for the young, old, sick or those with low incomes. They are the many from which our one strength must arise.

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