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Libertarians and Samaritans

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 18, 2019 08:20

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The labels that are attached to political attitudes are often confusing and contradictory. People are humans, not cardboard cutouts or theoretical definitions. Yet the labels some people attach to themselves are contradictory. Some people, in my youth, called themselves Christians and Nationalists. Libertarians, too, seem to contradict themselves.

Robert Dimuro wrote recently on some rather extreme libertarian views. The question was posed: should making a profit be the goal of every function of society? Should medical services, for instance, be a profit-making operation? My country is in the throes of a struggle for the nationalization of the entire healthcare industry, and at the same time skyrocketing medical costs in the private sector. Executives in the medical insurance business are voting for their own salaries, while obstetricians close shop due to unsustainable fees.
 
This has given me much to think about, and it brought me back to what I wrote some time ago. In a society where everything is measured in terms of money, is there space for the more humane aspects of life? Nationalists, in my youth, thundered, also from the pulpit, that we should close our borders against refugees, against people of color, to protect our Christian values. I asked then: Who is my neighbor? Of course Jesus had answered that question with the parable of the good Samaritan.
 
Now, I am not a pastor, but here is a sermon: the Samaritans worshipped Nergal, and despite claiming descent from some Jewish tribes, they were despised for their religion and their provenance from Kutha in what is now Iraq. You know the story: a traveler was waylaid by robbers and left for dead. A priest and a Levite passed by and refused to help. A Samaritan helped him to the nearest hotel, procured medicine and helped him. Now, Jesus asked, who is that traveler’s neighbor?
 
Seems to me, in the midst of a struggle with my medical insurance, that the traveler did not have insurance, and the Samaritan did not ask for help. The honey and olive oil he used to salve the wounds were not on any approved list and did not come with royalty payments or confiscatory profits to the producers.
 
At the time I asked myself how to reconcile Christianity with the sort of nationalism espoused by the architects of Apartheid. My religious reading has since circled wide, to Buddhism, the Book of Mormon, the Pentateuch, the Koran, and the conflict has remained. Robert’s article brought the present conflict about immigration and libertarianism in focus.
 
Can the basic values of what is self-defined as a Christian West be reconciled with the calls we hear these days for a capitalist system based solely on money and private property? Can Judeo-Christianism form the foundation of a society that tries to exclude others because, well, they are others?
 
Can our modern society survive if we exclude the Samaritan? Here endeth the lesson. 

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 18, 2019 08:20

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(RNS) — A group of Christian leaders has condemned Christian nationalism in a new letter entitled 'Christians Against Christian...

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