COMMUNITY OPINION: For what does your ideology serve?

Joel Buckingham writes that ideologies that are no longer guided by desiring and enhancing human flourishing, are is missing the point.

This community opinion was written by resident Joel Buckingham. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.


Lately, it seems like our society has become more partisan and ideological than ever. If there is any belief that appears held by both sides of the political spectrum of our society it is that if a belief is good, having that belief even more strongly and vociferously must be better.

As a result if someone believes in “capitalism” the answer to all problems must be “more capitalism.” Similarly if communism or socialism has failed in the past and led to human misery, that is only because it has not been properly executed. Socialism more and harder, trust us we are told, this time will lead to success. While this isn’t true for all of us, it can be true for any of us when we get blinded by our ideology.

Certainly, it seems like the pandemic has brought about this too. If masks or vaccines are good, then they ought to be mandated. Or if masks and vaccines are bad, then covid isn’t even real and it is all fake. Whatever your ideology the answer that people can easily clamor for is more of their preexisting ideology.

Ideology is a system of ideas or beliefs that forms one’s perspective on the world. Left unexamined, these systems of ideas or beliefs end up controlling us for our harm rather than our good.

While I know some may chafe at a Biblical reference, I make it because it draws out a very important socio-cultural point. Other founts of wisdom whether eastern or otherwise I doubt would disagree.

In Mark 2:23, Jesus was confronted by Pharisees about working on the Sabbath Day plucking grains and eating them. Now in those times, an entire set of rules and regulations had been created on what one could or could not do on this “day of rest.” The day of rest would then be full of obligations to do or not do so as to not transgress the law. Jesus would make a statement that answers so much about ideology that it should not go missed. He said “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

There is so much theology in that one statement that one could unpack, but for now, let us focus on this application to ideology or belief system. In this statement Jesus reminded those listening to him, that the purpose of the Sabbath was to benefit man, not to burden or harm man. If, as at that time, the ideology around the Sabbath had become a burden, that ideology missed the whole point of the purpose of the Sabbath. The purpose of the Sabbath was to provide people with rest from their labor, whether physical or otherwise, not to create more work as to how to specifically follow a whole bunch of rules unenumerated in the Torah.

The point I want to draw out is this, whatever one’s ideology is, to the extent it is no longer guided by desiring and enhancing human flourishing, it is missing the point. Certainly all of us may have some disagreement of what human flourishing looks like, but if it means grinding down all those who disagree or finally vanquishing all disagreement and dissenters, I suspect we have totally lost the plot.

Whether capitalism, socialism, zero-Covid, zero-intervention, religion, atheism, or any other belief system, if we have reached the point of, if we can just break down this resistance then we will finally achieve our utopia, our ideology has become more important than the point of our ideology.

To that extent, I just want to take a moment and hope that we have one thing we can all agree on. That hopefully as a society our overarching ideology or goal must be to see the best for each one of us and our community; more joy, happiness, grace and kindness one to another. Amazingly, this is something that is all within our control.

We can think charitably toward those who have a different perspective and maybe try to hear what they’re saying even when it comes out “emotionally” wrong. Here’s to wishing all of us, a joyous and prosperous New Year.

Joel Buckingham