The Principle of Subsidiarity

Government works best at the local level.  The closer the control of government is to the people, the  more interest and control citizens hold in political proceedings and operations.

Subsidiarity may be explained another way. Whatever activity an individual is able to engage in by themselves is an activity that should not be controlled by a superior body, even if the superior body can control the activity by power of authority. There is a tendency to think of subsidiarity in the practical sense only, meaning getting things done.  But there is a moral tone to subsidiarity too. The superior body has no absolute right to vacate one’s opportunity to learn and function in an activity thus gaining self respect.

One of the success stories of today involves a TV celebrity who once described the motivation that drove her success. Watching her “maid” mother hanging clothes on the wash line, heard an inner voice that said, “This will not be your life. Your life will be more than hanging clothes on a line.”

The moral aspect of Subsidiarity means that every individual has the absolute, “unalienable” right  to individual opportunity which a superior body, or government, must encourage and not inhibit by force of authority.

To paraphrase the words of one theologian, “We can’t keep tying our children’s shoe laces forever.

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