I have not been a follower of Ron Paul, described by ABC News as “the iconic libertarian congressman from Texas”, but reports of his farewell address to Congress caught my attention.
Nearly an hour long, his speech enumerated many of the problems facing our country and reinforced the grave feelings that I have for our future.
“Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed,” Paul said. “The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people. The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified.”
Quoting the ABC News article that I read (emphasis is mine),
Paul left the podium, for the last time, offering an “answer” to all of these problems: that people should choose liberty and limit government, and seek change within themselves.
“The number one responsibility for each of us is to change ourselves with hope that others will follow,” Paul said, urging an end to two motives that have hindered U.S. society: envy and intolerance.
These last statements particularly caught my attention because earlier in the week I had the privilege of hearing Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s presidential speech to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fall meeting in Baltimore.
In his speech, Cardinal Dolan recalled part of the closing message from the recent Synod of Bishops. That message reminds everyone, beginning with the bishops themselves, that the New Evangelization must begin with personal conversion.
“The New Evangelization reminds us that the very agents of evangelization – you and me – will never achieve that abundant harvest Blessed John XXIII described unless they are willing and eager to first be evangelized themselves,” said Cardinal Dolan, “Only those themselves first evangelized can then evangelize.”
Cardinal Dolan later said,
“The premier answer to the question “What’s wrong with the world?” is not politics, the economy, secularism, sectarianism, globalization or global warming … none of these, as significant as they are. As Chesteron wrote, “The answer to the question ‘What’s wrong with the world?’ is just two words: ‘I am.'”
There is so much more to be taken from Cardinal Dolan’s speech, which you can read here, especially concerning the central importance of the Sacrament of Penance, but I was struck by how two very different men, with two very different roles in our country, and two very different perspectives and belief systems, could both hit on the same central solution to our ills.
Our hope as one sharing the New Evangelization, or our hope as a citizen of a free nation, depends on a virtuous and moral personal conversion.
So say we all.