One commentator on the losing side of the 2004 presidential election said, “I feel I’m living in a parallel universe.” Other commentators could not understand why people responded to so-called conservative morals and not the values of the so-called liberals.
In Hollywood, the town was torn apart by the election. Many actors, producers, billionaires and millionaires had gone to bat for Sen. Kerry and felt personally hurt by the loss.
As one who was converted by God’s grace at the age of 27 from anti-Christian attitudes to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – and thus from being a radical leftist (a card-carrying member of the National Lawyers Guild who headed up the law school coalition to end the war in Cambodia and Vietnam), I am aware of both sides of this issue.
I was made more aware of it when I recently visited Cambodia. There, at the Genocide Museum, were pictures of the women and children who were among the 1.5 to 2 million killed by Pol Pot. At those killing fields was a five-story-high pagoda of skulls.
Pol Pot was a radical communist who wanted to equalize everyone. Killing a few million people didn’t matter because life didn’t matter. As a materialist and a humanist, people were just protoplasm to Pol Pot. To bring everybody to the same level, he decided to murder anyone who had an education, wore glasses, whose hands looked like they hadn’t done hard work, or even those who were slightly annoying to their neighbor. His close friends engaged in inventing new forms of torture.
Once upon a time, my son Jim accused me of having participated in this killing by fighting to stop the war in Vietnam and Cambodia. Being there in the killing fields underlined the truth that there truly are evil men in the world, and that there is a reason for Augustine’s just war theory.
Another dramatic change was my view of the role of the state as a safety net, or as an arbitrator dividing limited resources. In this regard, I helped to start the Environmental Law department at New York University Law School and the Environmental Law department at the District Attorney’s office in the city of New York. I firmly believed Malthusian predictions that populations were exploding, and so the state needed to regulate goods and services.
After my conversion, I met with another reality. First, that those areas of the world where the state was most involved were usually the most impoverished. And, those areas which most respected individuals, families and their freedom were the most prosperous.
In the 1950s, two economists were up for the Nobel Prize. One of them, Gunnar Myrdal, was a Swedish socialist Malthusian who believed that overpopulated countries would become basket cases. He looked at Southeast Asia from his socialist perspective and thought that they needed radical government control and depopulation. His competitor was P.T. Bauer, an Englishman who was with the London School of Economics. He believed that human beings, when given their freedom, would produce solutions to the problems facing them. He believed in human capital and predicted that the regions of Southeast Asia would prosper if given freedom.
Well, during my recent trip to Thailand, I noted that the people in the cities in Thailand were driving bigger cars than many Americans, the hotels were nicer, and the shops were exploding with activity. Bauer was right. The Asian tigers prospered to the degree that people were freed from the stranglehold of government control over their lives.
People are the special ingredient. Created in God’s image, they come up with solutions when given the freedom to exercise their God-given talents.
Myrdal won the Nobel Prize, but Bauer solved the economic problem by showing that the free market works.
And what about the safety net? Joseph Tson is the famous Romanian pastor who spent years in the Romanian concentration camps and wrote the theology of martyrdom. He noted that the Romanian equivalent of the KGB would let him preach the Gospel and lead people to Christ in his packed church, but when he started preaching that the church should care for the poor, the homeless and the needy, and manifest the Kingdom of God, he was arrested. He concluded that the communist state had taken over the role of the church in society and was jealous to protect its role as the paternalistic caretaker.
However, the state did a miserable job. Hospitals, orphanages and slums were ill kept, and the economy was impoverished. God designated social care to the church. The church had the arms and legs of its many members who could help the poor, homeless and needy. When the church accepts its role of living out the Gospel in word and deed, society improves. When it relinquishes its God-given responsibilities to the state, both society and the church are impoverished.
Therefore, the change that I experienced from moving far-left to sensibly right was ushered in by God opening my eyes to the truth, and then by my observing that truth in the world at large. Evidence on all of these issues demands a clear verdict, and that verdict is, regrettably, that the losers in the last election espoused values that are detrimental to the future of mankind.
Helping them understand that reality in a loving and gracious way is up to the church, which is the body of believers. The answer is Jesus Christ, who created us in His image, so that He could give us the desires of our hearts, so that we could care for the poor and needy, and so that we could be an integral part of His expanding Kingdom until He comes again.
No matter how much the left debates the values vs. morals issues, or tries to makeover the Democratic Party, they cannot understand or succeed until they meet the Truth in Person. That personal life changing experience will set them free from the confusions of our age and help them to understand the position of the 135 million to 165 million people who are in church every week. These churchgoers are not religious, just born again.
The difference between the candidates is clear: one was an altar boy, the other was forgiven by a personal Savior. If you would like to understand this difference, please say a prayer that my friend Stephan Collins, star of WB’s “7th Heaven” sent to his e-mail list:
“The 7-Second Prayer. Just repeat this prayer and see how God moves! ‘Lord, I love you and I need you, come into my heart, and bless me, my family, my home, and my friends, in Jesus’ name. Amen.’”