Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Prudence- the virtue that if you're not careful, can turn into Greed

This is a Papal Economics Book Club Post

Prudence is normally thought of as a virtue. It's a virtue of stewardship, and it is an absolutely downright necessary skill to have if you are living under democratic capitalism. Being Imprudent is often seen as a sign of weakness by Democratic Capitalists.

But I would say, and Blessed John Paul II seems to say in Centesimus Annus, that generosity is a higher virtue than prudence. This means of course, in the language of Pope Francis, that occasionally there will be accidents, ministries that go bankrupt from being too generous, but that is the price of radical, indiscriminate charity.

But shall we consider the other situation? It is said that a heresy is a virtue taken to absolute- and I believe Prudence is a virtue that for many materialists in the United States, has become an absolute. Climbing the wage ladder to get to a point where one has a sustainable lifestyle takes a lot of ambition and just plain hard work; the habits gained don't magically disappear once one becomes financially comfortable. It's easy to slip over the line and let generosity die in this situation; not realize that one has met all the material needs of one's own household and then some. What little is given away, is often too little. It's said that if every Christian actually tithed, and the funds were then well used, we could eliminate hunger and homelessness worldwide.

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