Ordering Our Cities
Part 2 of 2
Many individual faults and failings led to the economic crisis of the past three years, and it’s important to recognize that every personal problem carries consequences for society as a whole. Our ability to order our society depends on our ability to order our lives.
To act as if only our needs and wants are important is a sign of a disordered soul, and it’s hard for disordered souls to craft a well-ordered society. We see evidence of this in the recent problems in the financial sector.
We’ve heard much about the prevalence of moral hazard, which occurs when people and institutions take irresponsible risks because they won’t have to suffer the consequences of their actions. Forcing the people who made the irresponsible investments to bear the burdens of their losses became a cornerstone of financial oversight policy, only to have it inconsistently applied when risks became riskier and consequences became more far-reaching. Millions of people saw their money disappear when they believed it was safe.
When we examine our society in upheaval and economy in recession, we see that it has been ordered by laws and markets that primarily promote the rights and benefits of the individual over all else. This status quo can construct blinders that constrict our awareness of the deeper consequences of our actions, both for ourselves and for society—the common good—as a whole. Even more than this, the status quo can lead us to look at our current system (and our own actions) with less-than-prophetic and less-than-Christian eyes.
Where is the Church’s voice at this time?
Now is the moment for the Church—through the teaching and documents of the bishops; the witness, homilies, and education of the clergy and religious; and the expertise, holiness, and experience of the laity—to remind us what we were created for: to give witness to the kingdom of God using the gifts and talents God gave us. In this way, the dignity of each person is held up as a core value as we promote the common good with an awareness of our interdependence and responsibility to one another.
Together, we can remind one another that it is possible to order our souls and cities for the benefit of the one and the many.