Monday, December 12, 2016

Subsidiarity and St. Aquinas

If you abandoned the unending stream of political rancor too soon you would have missed the contents of a particular alarming email sent between high ranking Clinton Campaign insiders. Before you close this blog in fear of running into partisan rhetoric that will make you retch, be not afraid. Any mention of politicos will be solely for reference. So what is is this scandalous email then?

John Halpin, a former Democrat strategist was writing to Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta and Clinton Director of Communications Jennifer Palmeiri when he said in reference to Catholics:

"They can throw around "Thomistic" thought and "subsidiarity" and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they're talking about."

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/4364

My gut reaction was to be angry, but then I realized I had no idea what I should be angry about. I knew Thomistic thought referred to Thomas Aquinas, but I didn't really know what that was, and don't even get me started on the subsidiarity. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This person was apparently mocking Catholics but I was too ignorant to be fully offended. So I hit the "interwebs" for answers.

First, the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is so rich and voluminous that Dr. Taylor Marshall takes a quick look at the Saint in a free book that is a short 50 pages! I downloaded it but time constraints only allowed me to go to wikipedia for an even more condensed approach. Although not 50 pages worth of material, an encyclopedia type examination of Thomistic philosophy was a lot to chew on. One take home point that stuck with me was that Aquinas held that faith and reason go hand in hand. Not only that, but that the existence of the almighty can be shown through reason even if faith remains a gift. I won't go through the "Five Ways", but you can contemplate them here.

As a person who holds a degree in Math and one in Chemistry, I have often been asked by my non-believing friends how I can believe in God. The supposition being reason and faith are mortal enemies. I never believed it. Now I know I have a great friend and advocate in St. Thomas.

Second, and more easily understood, comes the concept of subsidiarity. More than just a ten cent word, I found upon googling it, that my outlook on life actually had a single word that specifically described it, outside of "Catholic".

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. 

Yes, this, a lot of this. Individuals make things happen. My gut tells me that when hard work needs to be done, those in the trenches are who gets it done. Don't get me wrong. There is something be said for leadership, especially leadership which inspires. Leadership which demonstrates an example to those who need an exemplary path to follow, but then the work needs to be done, and it is done by those closest to its effect. 

Why would a trio of Democrat strategists (could easily have been Republican) be complaining about Catholics and their subsidiarity? The answer is clear. Imagine what would happen if Catholics started living out our discipleship. If every Catholic, every Christian, every citizen spent an hour a day and a fraction more of their resources to make an improvement in the lives of our neighbors, what would we need from Big Brother? The answer is very little, if anything. This entire ruling class of elitists who think their Utopian world would come to pass if we (ignorant and backwards Catholics) would just progress out of the Dark Ages.

If you have some time, read up on St. Thomas, but if you don't have time like most us, claw out opportunities to make the world better around you, because that is actually how things get done, even if politicians wished it was otherwise.




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