Mormon Monday: Justice and Mercy and Politics

I’ve had a series of conversations at work about politics and literature and a lot of things.  It’s been fun, but one conversation stuck out to me.  We were talking about Ayn Rand and her novels and her philosophy and politics.  Now I’ve read almost everything that Ayn Rand wrote; Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Anthem.  And I’ve enjoyed them, I’ll admit it.  They were fun, enjoyable stories, and her philosophy seems to make sense, on the surface.

For those who have not read Atlas Shrugged, the basic premise of the philosophy described in it is that men should work for themselves and earn their own living.  Anyone who cannot work is a “second-hand thinker”, mooching off of others.  Through the course of the novel a mysterious man seems to be destroying the world by removing all of the heads of business and industry, but really he has been showing them how they had been used by others for their ideas and their products.  They leave the world and form their own society based on each man providing for himself, leaving the rest of the world to fall apart since they cannot work for themselves and earn their own living.

Like I said, this seems fine on the surface.  This seems like justice.  But something is missing.  What would happen, in such a society, to a man who enjoyed providing for his family, who built his own living, worked hard for his daily bread, but one day had an accident and could no longer work?  What would happen to such a man, or his family, if he were no longer physically capable of providing for himself?  Unfortunately, such a just society does not have any room for compassion or Mercy.

But, on the other hand, a fan of Ayn rand’s philosophy would argue that too much mercy in a society leads exactly to the corruption that was so prevalent in Atlas Shrugged and led to John Galt “stopping the motor of the world.”  If we take from those who have and give to those who have not, then we create people who have no incentive to work for themselves and would much rather have things handed to them.  Charity is a good thing, but too much charity cripples rather than builds.  Mercy is a wonderful, god-like attribute, but when over applied or misapplied it can be detrimental.

So, what is the solution?  What are we to do?  Anyone familiar with the LDS early morning Seminary program, should recognize where I’m going with this.

There is only one way to properly balance Justice and Mercy.  It is through the Great Mediator, Jesus Christ.  He alone can satisfy the demands of Justice while being merciful to those that deserve mercy.  On this Easter weekend we remember the role that Jesus Christ should play in our lives, we remember his death, but more importantly we remember his resurrection.  We remember that it is through him that we are given the opportunity to live again.  I love Easter because it is a perfect companion holiday to Christmas.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ and at Easter we celebrate his resurrection.  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are sometimes consider unchristian, and part of that comes from the fact that we do not utilize the symbol of the cross at all.  We do not focus as much on the death and crucifixion of Jesus Christ as we do on his life, his teachings, and his resurrection.  And we remember, more than others, that he lives today.  We have more recent confirmation of that fact in the testimony of Joseph Smith who saw and spoke with the Savior on several occasions.  And each member of the Church is invited and expected to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer and meditation and scripture study.  Each of us can know as assuredly as Joseph Smith knew that Jesus lives and that he speaks again to man on the earth.  He lives and makes it possible for me to live. “Oh sweet the  joy this sentence gives, I know that my Redeemer lives.”

For uplifting Easter messages from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit their official YouTube channel

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