Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Democracy, Greeks, and Global Affairs

So the word democracy comes from two Greek words. The first is deme, meaning a district, together with its dwellers. The second is kratos, meaning rule or authority. A place is a democracy to the extent that it is ruled by the people living there. The United States is an indirect, or representative, democracy because we elect people to represent us for the purposes of governance and rule. We feel ourselves to be rather egalitarian on top of it all because we don't have very clear, rigidly defined social classes. A man might be born of two beggars, and yet end up with billions. The opposite of an egalitarian democracy would be something like an oligarchic (Greek, again, for "leadership by the few") aristocracy.

Many of the world's nations are democracies in some way, shape, or form, and the United Nations (UN, or ONU in the romance languages) is ostensibly a democracy. Many Americans don't like our country being a part of it because they feel it interferes with our national self-determination. Interestingly enough, many people in smaller and less-developed countries feel likewise.

Well, to see whose sovereignty is more imposed upon, or at least to see who is making out better in this whole international way of running things, it is hard not at least to consider who's got more, and who's getting more. I don't mean that I am richer, dear reader, or that you are. Times are hard, sure enough. But does any of us in the US honestly think for a moment that we'd be doing better in Mogadishu or Brazil? Up until the last couple years, most Americans had more and more - more food, more clothing, bigger houses, and we are only now starting to think about ways to economize, to make do - and that's something 5/6 of the world's population has had to do for as long as anyone can remember.

The funny thing is that tonight, while working on my Greek, I came across the word aristos (Mt 22:4) and didn't know what it meant, so I looked it up. It means feast. Aristocracy, then, literally means rule by the those who feast. In the global economy, which is staggering everywhere, have we been the global aristocrats without even really noticing it? It's a old jibe (and wives' tale, in my experience) that even our convicted prisoners have cable TV. Whether it's true or not, it is telling. A friend of mine once powerfully observed that the West is like a great big shopping mall, with the rest of the world standing outside, looking in the windows, and we only letting them in to mop the floors.

Aristocracy, rule by the elite, by those who feast, should naturally disturb a Christian and leave him disquieted. Is it not so that we Christians worship a king who was poor?

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