WHAT IS THE VALUE OF SACRIFICE AND SUFFERING?

From time to time our leaders demand that we sacrifice and share the suffering.  Here is the latest. 

The White House has given no indication of how it plans to pay for expanding the war in Afghanistan. More than likely, it will follow the Bush precedent and just put it all on the national credit card. But at least some members of Congress believe that the time has come to start paying for war. On Nov. 19, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., introduced H.R. 4130, the “Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010.” It would establish a 1% surtax on everyone’s federal income tax liability plus an additional percentage on those with a liability over $22,600 (for couples filing jointly), such that revenue from the surtax would pay for the additional cost of fighting the war in Afghanistan.  (from here)

For some reason, President George W. Bush never thought it necessary for the civilian population to share the sacrifice — and the suffering.  Why?  I guess Bush thought we were already suffering enough in taxation.  It seems with each crisis taxes go up and decline ever so  s l o w l y .  In addition, I doubt that Bush thought the soldiers he lead would appreciate it.  What soldier worth his salt goes to war so the family and friends he leaves behind can sacrifice and suffer.  What he really wants is to keep his homeland safe so he can return to it joyfully.

Nevertheless, some of our leaders seem fixated on making us sacrifice our money and freedom to them.  I suppose it is ego trip.  Moreover, separating an entire nation from its wealth must seem like a profitable enterprise.   

What is a politician?  He is salesman.  His first job is to sell himself; his second is to sell his ideas.   Unfortunately, the characteristics required for these tasks do not necessarily bring out the best in human beings.   In fact, the most polite thing we can honestly say about some politicians is that they are born con artists.

For example, let’s look at the sneaky tricks our politicial leadership tried to hide during the Christmas holidays.  

A Blank Check for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

So that deadbeats and poor credit risks can own a house, the rest of us must share the sacrifice and suffering. 

Speculators poured into shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Monday, the first day of trading after the Obama administration in effect gave the companies blank checks of federal support.  (continued here)

Undoubtedly, some speculators and well connected individuals will make out like bandits.

The Senate Approves a “Health Care Bill”

On the day before Christmas 2009, the Senate also “blessed” us with sacrifice and suffering.  So we can take care of illegal immigrants and people who don’t want to buy health insurance, the Senate passed a bill that would give itself control of our nation’s entire health care system.  Since there has been plenty of local blogging on the this subject, I will not repeat it here. 

The Value of Sacrifice and Suffering

Put together, what the White House and Congress have been doing does not really make any coherent sense.  For example, one wit asks Is it a Murder-Suicide Pact?  The damage these bills promise to do our economy is huge.

On Christmas Eve, the Senate and the Obama Administration did two things that may not murder the patient–the U.S. economy–but will surely leave it an invalid for a long time to come. (continued here)

So what is the value of sacrifice and suffering?  Why do some think sacrifice and suffering so marvelous?  It might seem that some people have self-destructive guilt complexes, and I guess some do.  Nonetheless, our leaders generally use the term “sacrifice” as a sales term.   Apparently, their constituents are confused about the nobility of a voluntary sacrifice.  They think they can achieve the same results with a forced sacrifice.  They are wrong.  Consider how the Apostle Paul described giving.

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (Today’s New International Version)

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  As it is written:

“They have scattered abroad their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

When people voluntarily give, they do so out of love, and they do so cheerfully.  There is little suffering.  However, to be forced to give of one’s labor is to be enslaved, and that requires abusive power. 

Suffering does have a purpose, but that occurs because we suffer from our sins.  These load us down with guilt.   That suffering can only be relieved by repentance and by turning to God.

Have Pity Upon and Pray For Our Leaders

When you consider the shenanigans we have seen here of late from Congress and the White House, there is a temptation to become angry.  In one sense, this anger is appropriate.  When we see someone determined to violate the rights of our fellow citizens, such evil should anger us.  Yet we should reserve our anger for the deed, not the doer. 

Our elected leaders have each taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution.  Unfortunately, many have shown a repeated willingness to violate their oath.  For the sake of power and high office, they would sacrifice their souls.  That sort of sacrifice is indeed foolish.  It can only lead to greater suffering than any of us can imagine.

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