WHILE in some reunion recently with former college classmates and colleagues at work during my pre-priesthood years when I myself was active in the professional field, I was struck by one of the comments I heard in our conversations.
A friend who is also an economist mentioned that the different ways many Western governments took to tackle the global economic crisis that started sometime in 2008, taken from both the capitalistic and socialist models, could not adequately resolve the problem because they just relied on certain laws and policies prevailing in their respective countries at that time.
Many of these political and economic leaders are discovering that it takes more than just following purely economic and civil laws to resolve the problem in a way that could be considered most fair.
I have always believed that merely following articulated laws or man-made laws, whether in business or in our life in society in general, would not be enough, since these laws would always be in need with the proper spirit for them to be as they should be.
These laws, at best, can only give some kind of guideline. They dispose us to the ways of truth, charity, justice. But they cannot by themselves achieve those goals unless they are animated by the real source of truth, charity and justice which can only be God, our creator and Father.
At best, they can somehow regulate the external aspects of a given problem or situation but are quite silent on the internal aspects. They can be good in sanctioning the macro dimensions of our economy or political life, but are again very tentative in the micro level.
These laws and policies cannot function on their own. They need a deeper foundation, a terra firma that in the end could only be God and his laws and standards. Itâ€™s the hesitation or even aversion to put God in the core of our legal systems that would somehow pervert our laws and policies even if they are formulated with the best of intentions.
When crafted, developed and lived independently of God or when pursued outside a loving and faithful relationship with God, these laws can easily be manipulated to suit oneâ€™s self-interest at the expense of the common good. They would miss the finer points of ethics and morals so crucial in our life, personal and social, here on earth.
And in that set-up, it would always be the more powerful, in terms of wealth, fame, talents, etc., who would dominate and tend to exploit the others. Their authority, which is supposed to be a sharing of the authority of God, would be used not to give glory to God and to serve others, but more to give glory to themselves and to be served by others. In short, there is always the tendency for people to abuse their authority.
In that set-up, what are often excluded, deliberately or unintentionally, would be the elements of mercy and compassion, the need for sacrifice, detachments from things and others that are necessary and at the same time unavoidable in our life here on earth.
It is a set-up that is blind to these things and is prone to follow the law of the jungle or the law of Talion that usually caters to the baser instincts of men and hardly goes beyond them. The higher values of faith and morals are disregarded, if not frowned upon.
The requirements of our moral and spiritual life, so inalienable in us that even in our mundane activities like business and politics they are always relevant, are often unmet if not totally ignored.
It is a set-up that tends to give a knee-jerk reaction to things at the expense of a more comprehensive attitude. It is often taken up by the passion and the excitement of the here-and-now and is quite subjective at the expense of a longer and more objective view of things.
We need to overcome the fear or whatever bias we have regarding the need to involve God in our human affairs. We cannot say that just because what we are doing are purely business or politics, God should not be involved.
While itâ€™s true that there is a certain legitimate autonomy in our temporal affairs, it does not mean that God has nothing to do with them. Yes, we need to uphold that autonomy and should not unduly mix God and religion in living out those affairs, but it does not mean that God is not the beginning and end of these affairs.