The Common Good
March-April 1996

The Morality of the System

by Bob Holum | March-April 1996

The rule of law in a free society is an expression of the social
contract between the governed and government and between the people
and each other.

The rule of law in a free society is an expression of the social contract between the governed and government and between the people and each other. Obedience to the law, and the ability of authorities to enforce the law, depends on every citizen understanding him or herself as a responsible and cared-for member of the community. As you well know, this sense of mutuality is breaking down. Without it no amount of money spent for police or prisons will restore safe streets or decent schools, and no amount of preaching (whether by preachers, judges, or politicians) will restore "family values."

Those crafting cuts in welfare, Medicaid, and the WIC program blame social disruption on the sinking morals of the poor. Those of us who gathered in the Rotunda on December 7 feel it is time to examine not only the morals of the poor, but the morality of a system that wants to hold the poor accountable without holding them dear.

Bob Holum is a pastor and executive director of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

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