Winston Churchill was a young man of twenty two when he gave his first political speech. He referenced the Government’s Workmen’s Compensation Bill before the Parliament in England. “He said the bill, ‘removed the question from the shifting sands of charity and placed it on the firm bedrock of law‘.” (Churchill: A Life, by Gilbert, page 71.) It was 1897 and Churchill was developing a philosophy which would characterize his life. Churchill was not only a leader of his time – he was prophetic in understanding the role of institutional values.
We in America use terms today to define political ideology – terms like conservative or liberal, anti-government or progressive, Republican or Democrat. Churchill saw himself as a progressive – in the same era that T.R. Roosevelt advocated progressive government. Both Churchill and Roosevelt are noted today as two of the greatest leaders of history. What does that tell us?
The shifting sands of charity versus the firm bedrock of law sums up the competing ideology.
We are now in the 21st Century since Jesus Christ defined charity – two thousand years since ‘charity’ was defined as the greatest of values. But in two thousand years charity has been eroded by shifting sands. The shifting sands are made of loose values in greed, materialism, elitism, capitalism, power, wealth, and the lesser charms of obstinacy and ignorance.
Today America finds itself in a great debate about the health of the citizen class. Modern technology offers great advances in the opportunities for individual health care. The opportunities are stifled by those who deny charity as a value of government. Charity, they say, must not be a central tenant, but rather a value of locale. Charity, they say, is dependent on religious affiliation. Charity should be left to religion – charity is not a function of a united people. Consolidating the excessive wealth of a nation for the good of individual health, they say, is corrupt. Those who would deny the right to modern health care use the tactics of ignorance – playing with terms such as socialism to scare those who do not grasp the relationship between government and individual values.
Charity as a function of Christianity – in a nation some claim to be founded on the tenants of Christianity – has failed.
Churchill was correct in his assessment – the firm bedrock of law should be employed as a firm adhesive in the sands of charity.
A few thoughts from the Christian Bible:
I Corinthians, XIII, v.2
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
1 John 4:7, 11-12
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling
I Corinthians Ch. XIII v.13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.