The Christmas Spirit of Getting
by Pastor Cary Gordon
The late Dr. Clarence Manion, esteemed professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, whose interpretation of American history made significant impact on 1950’s America when he published a now classic (and out of print) work entitled “The Key to Peace”, once compared the blackjack (that’s a 1950’s term for a “crow-bar” or “tire-iron”) to the ballot. Allow me to explain:
His criticism began with that popular and trite old saying: “Government should do for the people what the people cannot do for themselves.” Most people, in Manion’s day (not unlike American citizens at this very moment, just prior to Christmas of 2012), believed that old saying was a “good” and “true” description of the PROPER role of government for the civilized world. Point of fact (and to be fair): I’ve heard both Republicans and Democrats use this boring maxim in recent publicized statements.
So, why did Manion hate it so? Well, here’s why…here’s why we ALL SHOULD hate it: When a man (a “Have-Not”) decides to take a crow-bar from his car trunk and use it to pry open the door of his neighbor’s home (a “Have”) under the cover of night, pry open his basement safe, and take his neighbor’s goods for himself, he will be fined and imprisoned (if he’s caught), because he has committed an act the civilized world calls “stealing.”
You can almost imagine the adrenaline rush, cant you? The nerves – the sweat – and, perhaps just a little bit of terror, sneaking around in the dark, stealing things from those greedy neighbors who…well, just MAKE TOO MUCH! And they DON’T NEED SO MUCH! It is just…well, it does not meet the liberal requirements of what is called “social justice!” [Yes (insert whisper-voice here), liberals have their own private definition of the word “justice,” too.] The poor, kind, and well-deserving Have-Not neighbor family goes without…well…without a useful basement safe of their own! “IF ALL MEN WERE CREATED EQUAL!” they shout, “then…then…then… all men should have a NICE BASEMENT SAFE, filled with the SAME amount of money!!! EQUALITY! FRATERNITY! LIBERTY!” [If this were a video, I’d insert a clip of Howard Dean’s famous Iowa campaign scream!] “WHEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”
Tip-toeing through the sparkling home recently decorated for Christmas, making his way down the basement stairs (since sneaking down chimneys is associated with GIVING, sneaking down basement stairs seemed the natural alternative for those associated with GETTING), locating the old safe, he carefully slips the thin-end of his black-jack into the narrow crevice where the safe door seams with its frame. Let the prying begin! I call it, “The Christmas Spirit of Getting!”
Hold on…this just in…a fresh spirit of “change” has whooshed into our nation of late. Our friendly neighborhood Mr. and Mrs. “Have-Nots,” over the last century of American life, have learned a new trick, you see. And they have now implemented a national plan. Upon their observation of the consequences rendered to those unfortunate former “Have-Not” friends, who got caught by the “Po-Po” (not to be confused with Ho Ho Ho!), they decided to concoct a wittier way wherewith to steal from their neighbor, and, at the same time, eliminate the inconvenient liability of government prosecution. “What, pray-tell, did they realize?” you may ask. Well, let me tell you about their dirty little secret.
They laid down the crow-bars, took off the panty-hose masks, and removed the cumbersome all-black coveralls equipped with those handy tool pockets and weapon-welcome belts of “last resort.” Instead, they now opt to pick up an absentee ballot and accomplish the exact same thing…to take from their neighbors and thereby give to themselves. Yes, indeed, it is happening right now in Washington, D.C. The ballot of the “Have-Nots”, unlike the lifeless tire-iron, has become more than just a tool of choice; it’s a tool of perpetual motion that just keeps on “getting”, long after you slip it between the narrow crack in that electronic machine at the polling station.
Oh, don’t be fooled! It’s still stealing! It’s still a violation of the Ten Commandments, and it’s still immoral and unconscionable for any principled man. But – guilt – that annoying pit in your stomach you feel when you KNOW you’ve done something terribly wrong… well, guilt, they discovered, could be reduced by 100%, if the very government, otherwise used by society to punish theft, was converted into the very instrument through which the theft could be successfully accomplished!
It was a brilliant plan! Guess what? IT WORKED! All the benefits of stealing with a crow-bar, only, without the crow-bar, the jail-time, the embarrassment, the orange suit, and most importantly…WITHOUT THE GUILT! WOW! They have caused “the government to do for them, what they couldn’t have otherwise done SAFELY themselves!” Now that is some kind of a fresh renewal of “socially-conscious” liberty!
I mean, they did it “lawfully” without guilt. The “Have-Not Club” now proudly parades around the news networks! They have actually deceived themselves into believing they are the most generous people in the world! (Generous with other people’s money, that is.) The Have-Nots are the new Santa for progressive America! Forget soot-filled chimneys or noisy old basement stairs – it’s time to cast a ballot in favor of Santa’s successors! It’s CHRISTMAS TIME, PEOPLE! Let’s all sit back and just accept the new Christmas Spirit of GETTING! Whadaya say?
In summary – if I use a ballot to accomplish “wealth re-distribution” it’s called a “compassionate subsidy” – if I use a tire-iron, it’s called “stealing.” But Divine Law doesn’t bend with popular rage. The Good Book still shows it’s wrong. Generosity flows best from charitable and compassionate INDIVIDUALS – not from impersonal, cold, government drawers, or some inanimate socialist collective birthed from the womb of envy.
The greatest generosity, of course, flowed from Heaven about 2000 years ago. The Gift was born of Mary and laid in a manger as the extension of a very personal decision made by a single individual – Father God. Following that example, I pray that my fellow Americans will see fit to unhinge themselves from the bondage of Karl Marx’s version of pseudo-generosity (the spirit of GETTING) and re-introduce themselves to the wonders of Jesus Christ – the purest example of what we mean when we say “the spirit of GIVING.”
For God so loved the world, that He GAVE his only son, that whosoever would believe in Him, might not perish, but would have eternal life! (See John 3:16.)