It’s always wise to remember how much we owe the rest of humanity. No man is an island. From the beginning of our lives up to the very end, we benefit from the sacrifices and labor of others. So much of our own happiness is made possible by these acts.
For example, think of the first date you ever went on at 15, and all the people who worked to give you that happiness, from the waitress who delivered your food, to the line cooks who prepared it, the bus boys who ensured the dishes were clean, and the multitude of workers in the agricultural sector who got the ingredients for the meal to market and on your plate.
If just one of these individuals fails in their responsibility, you don’t get that beautiful memory of your youth.
I firmly believe, in gratitude for this diligence service that others perform for us, each and every day, we owe something in return. More specifically, we must make an effort to ensure every individual, no matter how humble their station, is able to achieve a piece of the American dream.
To achieve this goal, policymakers cannot simply leave our fellow citizens to the whims of the free market. The free market only measures the capacity to make profit for an employer. It says nothing about the contribution you make in the lives of others.
As a result, so many receive low pay for their work, which makes life a constant struggle. Therefore, building the America its citizens deserve will require government intervention to ensure everyone is provided with what they need to live in dignity: housing, health, education and good wages.
Many people, who are more sympathetic to the libertarian perspective, disagree with this approach. They don’t think it matters that we rely on the work of masses of decent Americans — from waitresses and janitors, to trash collectors and gardeners — in order to achieve our own happiness.
They serve us, and that’s the end of it. We don’t owe anything in return. Leave them to their struggle and suffering.
These right-wing fellows find it acceptable to profit so lavishly off of the labor of the working class, and have a government that treats them with neglect and indifference.
What really is being debated here, is whether we should be a good, Christian nation that uplifts the least of these, or one that prioritizes the rich over everyone else. It’s either one or the other — we cannot be both.
Ever since its inception, Christianity has been loathed as a radical religion that needlessly imposed on humanity such demands as altruism, compassion and service to the vulnerable.
From the pagans of Rome, to the scathing diatribes of Nietzsche and the Nazis, many have seen its teachings as a scandalous attack on the natural order of things in which the strong conquer and the weak endure whatever cruelty fate has in store.
The fundamentals of this critique live on in every conservative who howls at the idea that we should redistribute wealth from the rich to provide a safety net for the poor.
To burden the banker with caring about the status of the oppressed is an insult to their idea of a just world.
Much like Christianity’s past enemies, they prefer the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest, not the law of Jesus of Nazareth, which states the only true way to survival is love.
It is my preference for the latter way of thinking that sums up why I’ll always be a Democrat, no matter what.
For the Democratic Party has always operated around the principle that love must be the guiding spirit of government.
Our greatest achievements — the creation of affordable suburbs, the civil rights laws, mass unionization, 40-hour work weeks, universal access to college, electricity for the rural poor — are clear evidence of this.
These policies were motivated by the plain truth that we were put on this Earth to be custodians of one another, just as we are tasked with tending to the rainforest, the rivers, the animals and the roses.
In the spirit of Christ’s command to Lazarus, Democrats offer the people a simple message: Come forth. You can live in dignity and achieve your highest potential. You can become who you were always meant to be. Your government has your back.
The free market cannot measure the service a janitor pays by cleaning the Hollywood Bowl in 1964 so The Beatles are able to give a group of lovely teenage girls the greatest night of their lives.
The free market cannot conceive of the contribution a gardener makes ensuring his local park is beautiful and clean, so that when young lovers nestle in the grass, they’ll be convinced, if only for a moment, that they’ve reached something close to heaven.
The free market cannot quantify the peace a home health care aide gives an elderly World War II veteran, by tending to his infirmities and listening sweetly to his stories of a bygone era.
It is up to the public, acting through their government, to properly honor these contributions, by ensuring that every citizen has access to what Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called his Four Freedoms:
Freedom of speech.
Freedom of worship.
Freedom from want.
And freedom from fear.
Truly, there is no higher calling in a democracy then that.
Joshua Heath is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.