Sin and power, and the power of sin

Is power in and of itself bad? Why do we as a just society try to equalize power between the haves and have-nots? In our liberal-democratic society, power in the hands of the few will inevitably cause a clash between those who “have” and those who do “not have” access to power or the leverage to power. Historian Lord Acton (1834-1902) issued epic warnings that political power is the most serious threat to liberty. Acton observed that a person’s sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases. He states: “Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end…liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition…The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to to govern. Every class is unfit to govern (rich or poor)…Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Lord Acton. After the “have-nots” in Russia and China gained power and put the Communist Party in power, the working class Proletariats began to abuse their power by violating the most basic human rights of even ordinary people; millions died (conservative estimates of 5-10 million in Russia, and 15-30 million in China). Whether one is the pope, religious leader, or president of a multinational corporation, one must be aware of and accept one’s own limitations. No one is free from potential corruption because of ‘original sin’ or concupiscence that resides in each person. We are so curved inward that our self-centeredness eventually gets the best of us. If we are so privileged to hold political power–whether religious, social or economic–we must recognize that people will one day fall short of the mark. Thus, true humility is a personal virtue and a virtue for one’s whole community. (photo: Lord Acton)

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libertyculture

Reflections on when faith & the scriptures intersect life & society.

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