Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Thursday, April 26, 2018

On a recent visit to our nation’s capital, the center of political power and nasty partisanship, I got to thinking about our elected officials – the visionaries who spend their days formulating new laws to make this world a better place, at least when they’re not politicking and looking for votes.

We drove by the White House, where there were people protesting nuclear weapons and the Keystone pipeline. Then, we drove by the Capitol, where our legislators legislate, which means they sit around and debate and agree to disagree. And on those rare occasions when they can compromise, they come up with more laws, even though the vast majority of Americans are completely oblivious of the thousands of laws and regulations and rulings that have been concocted since the founding of America. Except for a few: tax regulations, the notorious Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare,” the need to stop at red lights and the egregious ones that legalize abortion on demand and demonstrate the true moral problems we face as a country.

Does anyone really believe more laws will make America better?

I always get worried when Congress or the state’s General Assembly goes into session. I worry because I’m afraid of what will go wrong next. And in recent years there seem to be more laws, rulings and regulations that legalize what society once considered wrong, such as assisted suicide and use of pot.

Equally disturbing, there is a culture of lawlessness in America, a prevalent spirit of disobedience, that afflicts every socioeconomic group from the rich to the poor because an increasing number of people care more about their personal needs than the common good.

Legislation like assisted suicide is motivated by special interests with political clout, not by right or wrong. What was once considered wrong is tragically viewed as right in modern America. That’s how much has changed in 60 years. However, never forget what St. Augustine said 1,600 years ago: “Wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it, and right is right even if nobody is doing it.”

There are those who would argue America has fundamentally lost its moral compass – polls show that three-quarters of the country believe it is pointed in the wrong direction. People may not always be able to articulate why or how this happened, but they realize things are clearly not the way they should be, regardless of what our political leaders tell us.

You can have millions of federal, state and local laws on the books but for a nation that doesn’t want to do the right thing, they won’t matter. And the real tragedy is that the 10 simple laws God gave Moses on Mount Sinai, which are clearly the basis for harmony in a society, are ignored or ridiculed. In our so-called “progressive” era, the Ten Commandments are considered representative of a primitive culture, a theocracy that has no place in the 21st century. As a result, theft, murder, dishonesty and adultery have become representative of the American way of life.

Long ago, Jesus said that the law without love is meaningless. When the scribe tried to trick him by asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” he responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love you neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We have a lot of laws, but we have very little love and concern for neighbor. If we had those things, everything else would fall into place. If we cared as much about the unborn, the terminally ill and the frail elderly as we cared about animal rights and the environment, America would be a wonderful place.

More laws won’t stop our moral decline; only prayer and personal witness can do that.

J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.