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Living the Gospel of Life -- Study Guide

Paragraph Thirty-eight

Reflection

Democracy demands virtue. People cannot govern themselves if they do not know the difference between right and wrong. This theme, which we have encountered before, is expressed in a speech given by Congressman Henry Hyde called "Virtue in Democracy" in which he said the following:

"To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just power from the consent of the governed." What a revolutionary thought! Power comes from the creator to the people and is then consigned temporarily to the rulers of the people, not directly to the rulers, as had been the practice and the belief for so many centuries. And so we learn from studying our Founding Fathers that democracy is more than a process. It is more than establishing a set of rules as to how we shall litigate, how we shall sue each other, but a democracy, envisioned by our Founding Fathers, that assigns value, intrinsic value, to every human being because each human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and we are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights, the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to pursue happiness.

"And so, as we study the beginnings of our nation, we understand that to have a virtuous kingdom it is enough perhaps to have a virtuous king, but you cannot have a successful democracy without a virtuous people. And that is where today’s great problem comes forward." (Heritage Lecture #673, July 19, 2000, www.heritage.org/Research/PoliticalPhilosophy/hl673.cfm)

Discussion Questions

What affects "a people's capacity to govern themselves"?

How is "virtue" related to "democracy?"

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