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MORAL VALUES & CIVIC LIFE

By John Tuite
Posted: 09/30/2020
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I want to talk about core moral values. Right now, I’m trying to clarify, in the midst of the current political turmoil, whether I differ in policy view or moral values.  Or is it a mixture?  For instance, I don’t agree that corporations have no responsibility except to earn money for their shareholders.  But people I respect are ardent fans of Milton Friedman.  Is that mere policy difference?  I believe that government should encourage business by tax law and regulation, but I also believe that citizens have a right to health care and support in need from that same government.  Is that only a policy difference from those who believe the first and not the latter?

What are your/my core moral values?  Have You ever written them down?  Have You shared them and explained them to my//your family?  I have not.  When I ask myself whether I live up to my core values, I get a little shaky when it comes to giving full respect to others as I expect for myself.  When you google core values you get some differences, but Honesty generally comes in first.  And that is a slippery rock in the USA right now.  Truth seems to have become a policy matter rather than a value!

Because I grew up a Catholic and participated as a priest in the life of the Church for the first half of my life, I follow with great interest the role of the Church and Catholics in the  civil life of the United States.  I’m fascinated at the number of Supreme Court Justices
in the modern era who have been Catholics.  I’m interested that the current Attorney
General is a practicing Catholic.  And the nominee for SCOTUS also.  And the
Democratic Presidential nominee. It surprises me that the Church is identified as part of the “evangelical” coalition.  And I am taken (as I observe political motivation, mainly in media) that the core, sole driving political identifier for evangelicals is abortion.  I ask myself where is a position, equally as burning and absolute, to war, capital punishment, counter-terrorism killings, and government assassinations. Or other moral values.

In my early life it seemed that American Catholics made up a significant block of the working class.  The Popes wrote many letters on the importance of social principles and practice.  The Church strongly supported labor unions.  Labor Day was celebrated by the Church.  I was raised to feel a responsibility for the poor and outcast.  I spent many evenings on Chicago’s Skid Row, under orders of my mentor, ladling soup.  Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement were common parlance and matters of not infrequent mention.  Civic life in Chicago was a matter of more than passing interest to the Church.  Civic life had to do with the welfare of the citizens.  Catholics were Democrats.

Somehow or other, even in the era of the “machine politics” that I knew, there was an expectation, however naive, that moral values were present and honored in Civic Life.
 
I’m reminded of this time when I watch “Blue Bloods”.  Truth, Honesty, Respect, Justice, Tolerance.  I swallow hard as I speak these words because of the cynicism that has
invaded society.  I try to guard my family dinner table from inroads of that cynicism.

Somewhere there’s got to be hope and idealism, even if it’s waning in civic life, at least at the national level.  That’s why I ask you to tell me about you and you

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