Good Intentions Are Not Enough for Good Citizenship

Millennial editor Robert Christian has a new article at the Messenger of Saint Anthony. He writes:

At civil rights museums, you will see pictures and clips of angry, hateful bigots that spew bile and threaten violence. But you will also see people that, in their tone and word choice, sound very measured and reasonable, as they explain why the evil of segregation is actually benevolent. They will insist that those most harmed by segregation actually benefit from it. They will announce their devotion to justice for all, but justify inaction by contending that order is more important at that time. They may announce that they believe it is God’s will.

Did they sincerely believe all of this? Some very likely did. Human beings can rationalize anything. People of bad will supply excuses for injustice to perpetuate their interests and desires. They tailor their arguments to the values of the ambient culture so that others will find such arguments compelling. In their ignorance, often their willful ignorance, others embrace and repeat the lies.

This is a reminder that having good intentions on social and political issues is not enough to be a good person or a good citizen. If one perpetuates evil by unthinkingly repeating reasonable-sounding, but ultimately foolish distortions and lies, one is complicit in such evil. Slavery was defended as a social good. And today, we hear similar ‘humanitarian’ and supposedly Christian rationales for banning refugees, disregarding climate change, ignoring mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing, perpetuating plutocracy, justifying widespread abortion, and completely ignoring racial injustice. These justifications are swirling all around us. Watching moderate, middle-of-the-road white Americans defend segregation as a positive good serves as an important reminder for all of us to examine our beliefs and arguments to ensure that neither prejudice nor laziness has led us to embrace that which is intellectually incoherent and incompatible with authentic Christianity.

The full article (subscribers only) is available here: