Those of a liberal bent criticize their brothers and sisters in the religious right for not caring about the poor. Those on the conservative side of the aisle chastise their left wing colleagues for being weak on sexual immorality. Yet, in reality, both the liberal and the conservative are united in doing precisely the same thing: lobbying against the wickedness in society and trying to pass laws to curb the darkness. Both groups want something very good: a solution to the world’s problems. But they both blame society, or parts of society, and think that if we just have another law, another regulation, a little more oversight, then the difficulties will evaporate. All too often, the only difference between the left and right is in which elements of society they think are offensive and need to be corrected. 

        The liberal argues that a violent society is to blame for the gunshot deaths of students on various campuses. If only there were more laws regulating guns, or better yet, if guns were banned altogether, then the problems would go away. Likewise, the conservative argues that sex on television or the internet is corrupting the children, and if only such things were banned, or at the very least severely restricted by warning labels and ratings systems, then the problems would go away.

        To some extent, how a person approaches the dilemmas of society will depend on his or her conception of wrongdoing. If he or she believes that human beings are essentially good, or at worst neutral—neither good nor bad—then he or she will imagine that society’s problems are the consequence of a tainted environment. If such is correct, then it follows reasonably that if the environment is altered, then the behavior of individuals will change for the better.
        Both liberal and conservative are often operating from this same point of view. The only differences are in the targets of their righteous indignation. They both blame society, rather than individuals for their actions.
        It is easier to pass laws than to help individuals.
        But since when have laws prevented criminal activity? Does the speed limit really have that much meaning for people? Do laws against murder mean there are no more murders? One wouldn’t want to suggest that there should be no laws against such behavior, but to think that simply having laws will end or even correct bad behavior is wrongheaded. Yet the attempts to ban, outlaw and regulate never end, even though they ultimately do not solve the underlying faults in individuals. Giving morphine to someone whose appendix has burst will ease her pain, but it will do nothing to solve her basic problem.
        Fundamentally, it seems that many fail to grasp the concept of “sin” or “evil.” People behave the way they do because they want to.  Acts of evil are always possible from anyone because humans fundamentally care only about themselves and their own needs and they will always find ways to justify their actions.  People love themselves and they fear no one else does; actions are always necessary and justified in a person’s mind.  As the author of the biblical book of Proverbs wrote, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes.”

Both right and left on the political spectrum tend to think only in terms of individual wrong acts. “Sins” are thus something external and concrete, and can be logically separated from the person. “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” With this concept as a foundation, if an individual has not actually done anything wrong (that is, committed an external act of evil), then he or she can picture himself as a good person. There is no thought of evil as an essential part of our human nature at all, as something all of us are capable of.

        For most of those on the right and the left, sins are only those things that other people do. Thus, they become sin groupies. There are fan clubs for certain sins. Certain sins are stars, and they get all the attention, and serve endlessly as great ways to raise funds. Violence in society, signified by handguns is certainly a great money maker for good causes. Abortion. Drugs. Greed (especially corporate). All these have huge fan clubs and raise large amounts of cash for good causes.
        And nothing is fundamentally solved. Whether liberal or conservative, both are distracted by good causes, spending time and resources to get more laws passed, hoping thereby to solve the problems of society, forgetting that the problems of society are the consequence of individuals who are individually making faulty choices because they are sinners. To fundamentally solve society’s problems, people would do better to be giving help to those in need, to performing random acts of kindness, to taking in the unwanted and unlovely. Simply passing another law, getting more regulation, having more labels, is not going to fundamentally transform society. People wear themselves out, waste their resources, and fight shadows while the real problems go unresolved and the suffering goes on and on.
        You want to change the world? There’s a whole world in a single human soul. Feed a hungry person. Rescue the perishing. Visit the suffering. Spend time with the lonely outcast. Listen. Take in a homeless, parentless child. Be kind. Touch someone with the love of God. Don’t worry about what the neighbors might think (whether good or bad). Do what is right regardless of how someone else treats you. Change minds and hearts. That will change society—has changed society—more than all the laws in all the nations in all the world.