The blogosphere had a lot of reaction to Nate of VN’s post in which he criticized America (to put it gently), to which my co-blogger Mr. McClarey has already responded. Nate has wisely revised his post so that the main sentence reads:
America is one of the greatest forces for evil in the world in the history of mankind.
I think there is some truth in this statement.Now, I don’t think it’s a terribly useful endeavor to start judging whether America is the most evil country ever or close to that. I have no idea what the standard which we could use to judge such a question would be, much less figure out how to quantify the evil done in comparison to past evil. For my money, America has not shut off access to the sacraments by slaughtering priests or closing Churches so I would have a hard time accepting that America is one of the worst countries ever.
What I like about Nate’s statement is that is mentions force. It is undeniable that America is or at least was the most powerful country in history. We don’t call the president the leader of the free world for nothing. Politically, Economically, Culturally, and Militarily America exerts considerable power, both directly and indirectly. America has often used or attempted to use this power for good, in order to improve the lives of people globally.
However, when America fails in its mission, this power can wreak extensive damage and evil. We here can all agree that the evil of abortion just within the United States has been terrible; America has often tried to use its power to bring that evil into other places of the world. We can see this too in the Middle East; America’s efforts to secure our oil supply and secure Israel has caused tremendous trouble in Egypt and elsewhere. I would also argue the nuclear weapons we developed are another example. We could debate this, but there are many other examples of when America exerted its power in a less than Christian way. When this force goes wrong, it has the power to force a lot of evil consequences.
To make my argument irrefutable, I shall quote Spider-man: With great power, comes great responsibility. America has great power, and thus has great responsibility to use that power well and to avoid doing evil with it, as it can wreak great evil with it.
Now, what’s my point? Simply this: America’s great power for evil places upon us as American citizens an even greater responsibility to be active in our world. We as Catholics need to undertake the greatest efforts to ensure our country acts properly. This includes direct action (like voting) and indirect action (blogging; witnessing to Christ in our lives; etc.). It probably ought to make us fearful of the power and seek to reduce it via principles of subsidiarity.
America’s power can do a lot of evil. Even if we argue about how the history of how well that power has been used, the extent of that power makes serious demands upon us both as Catholics and Americans, regardless of which site we blog at.
After all, Spider-man said so.