Ladies for Life

Defending words in the political vocabulary

Posted on: October 20, 2008

From the article Little Murders by Charles J. Chaput (Public Discourse, Oct. 18, 2008):

…We need to be very forceful in defending what the words in our political vocabulary really mean. Words are important because they shape our thinking, and our thinking drives our actions. When we subvert the meaning of words like ”the common good” or ”conscience” or ”community” or ”family,” we undermine the language that sustains our thinking about the law. Dishonest language leads to dishonest debate and bad laws.

Here’s an example. We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue, and it’s never an end in itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square – peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.

He’s Catholic. I’m not. But we’re in agreement on this. Definitely. And I thank him for putting it so well.

In the previous post, I took on the misuse of “keeping your baby”. What other words or phrases should we watch out for because they’ve become muddy or misleading?


2 Responses to "Defending words in the political vocabulary"

For any who haven’t read “Render Unto Cesar” by Archbishop Chaput I highly recommend it. Easy for me to say since I am a Catholic, but I think it is probably enlightening for any Christian (or anyone else sorting out their priorities in choosing a candidate). A well written book. It really doesn’t tell you who to vote for. Anyway I just finished it and I really enjoyed it. It’s not for everyone, but I think he takes a step in taking back our language and in keeping our values in our voting.

[…] on this blog, a commenter recommended the book Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, […]

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