Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
I never thought that I would experience anarchy having a foothold in the United States. Yet, the takeover of six city blocks by a group claiming they speak for the people in Seattle, Washington, has left me wondering just how far we have sunk in our understanding and respect for the established rule of law.
Ideologists claim that they have a better way, that the people will now claim their rights and everyone will be equal. They have built a better mousetrap, or so they proclaim. Within that area, they possess a new Eden, which will be free from persecutions and, apparently, any human errors. The serpent in Eden enticed Adam and Eve to take from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil so that they could be like God. We all know how that ended.
I wonder if this group will write a constitution or a bill of rights? Will they allow the practice of religion? Will all worship be tolerated? Will God be acknowledged or banned? In this so-called paradise, will freedom of speech be protected, especially when opposite views are expressed? Those who did possess property and businesses that were destroyed in the takeover, will they be compensated, or will they just be victims expected to swallow their losses for the sake of the new order? In this new order, will private property be supported, or will everything be commonly-owned? Will they be able to care for the most vulnerable among them? Where will they gather the resources? Will there be taxes? Who decides what portion will be received, and when? If someone fails to abide by the vision, will they be charged, arrested, fined or jailed? Will there be wise persons to see whether or not individuals have been treated fairly? Will they create individuals with authority to impose the new order, and, if so, will they have badges or uniforms?
I think you get my point. I think our Constitution and Bill of Rights represent the noble experiment of the founders who did not create a Utopian system but knew that their words would be measured by the way the citizens would be able to participate in the governmental republic. We have fought wars, experienced internal conflicts and amended the original Bill of Rights several times. We have needed decisions to interpret our laws, and not all of the decisions have been right (i.e. Roe v. Wade, Dred Scott and Obergefell). Frankly, there will be more mistakes in the future. However, no system is better in the world than our governmental system that has been passed down from our founders.
Utopian systems don’t exist, and the attempt to impose them fail – often at a cost. However, if we desire true change, it starts with the heart, and no law is more important than to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the June 16, 2020, "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.