In light of some recent stimulating discussions it seems appropriate to better clarify a basic underlying theme of my general philosophy regarding government and its relationship with the given society that enables it.
As I have stated elsewhere throughout this blog, the fundamental role of government is to protect individual rights. It is my belief that these individual rights are God-given but it is perfectly appropriate to characterize them as inherently ours by virtue of our humanity if one prefers. Some have referred to these rights as Natural Law and at their heart they form the basis for any just government’s existence. Our Constitution exists to protect the Natural Law from government at all levels – federal, state, and local – and the concept (and here I draw a distinction between concept and application) of legal statutes, whose authority are derived from it, are tools utilized by government to protect these individual rights from infringement by our fellow man.
Unfortunately, as time goes by in America government grows less concerned with protecting the Natural Law and increasingly becomes a mechanism by which the ruling elite determine who gets what. At its rawest, this is the most illegitimate use of government power that can be conceived (or bastardized) by man in my estimation, as the what in question is always a commodity that the government does not – in fact, cannot – produce on its own. The redistribution of commodities –be it the fruits of one’s labor (i.e., wealth) in the modern form of taxes and artificially induced inflation or the real property that one possesses, as in the modern abuses of eminent domain – is immoral and indefensible if an agreement between the two parties, the government and the rightful owner of said commodities, has not been willingly reached. This is true even if a simple majority of folks feel it is in some subjective interest of the greater good to pursue such a course with others’ commodities. After all, who among us cannot say that we could make better use of someone else’s wealth or property if we had the opportunity? Does that somehow make us ethically entitled to do so? I think the clear answer is no and so it should be for the government as well. In this context, the willing exercise of restraint is much more deserving of reverence than the exercise of authority.
My agenda, if there can be such a thing on a passive blog, is to engender a sense of ownership of the conduct of our lives, or at the very least, to help catalyze some sort of process of discovery to that effect. People tend to accept what they are presented with on the surface and it is my intent to fuse knowledge of history, available information, inherent ethics, logic and reason, and inquisitiveness to constantly challenge the establishment, no matter what its current form or appearance, to ensure its honesty and appropriateness in scope. My desire is to get folks to question what they are presented with, do their research, and independently come to their own conclusions regarding their own lives. This does not mean that I will not try to convince visitors of my point of view along the way, naturally, but it should still serve to foster critical analysis and thought provocation even if we continue to disagree. I continue to have faith, however, that most reasonable people will ultimately see the wisdom in safeguarding individual rights if the importance of them is properly demonstrated and articulated.
The end desire is not a world without rule of law but I hold a very rigid vision of a government, including the people who comprise it and the statutes that result from it, that is realistically answerable to the willing governed and operates solely within its fundamental limitations of scope and authority. If anything, I am selling individual freedom coupled with the personal responsibility and accountability necessary to truly understand and safeguard it.
The government cannot take from us if we, as a free people, consciously decide that we will not support such an encroachment on liberty regardless of how badly we wish to see our respective opuses achieved. If a given special interest is a powerful enough moral attraction then the appropriate approach is to trumpet its merits and allow it to thus garner willing supporters accordingly. Conversely, what is unacceptable to civil discourse in a free society is for that respective lobby to run to the ruling class when the special interest (or the message) itself fails to register with folks, and barter for the forcible removal of others’ property to achieve that lobby’s specific goals. The inherent corruption that is endemic to bureaucracies is what enables government-feeding (and in turn, public-feeding) special interests and the subsequent selling of votes is what empowers them. While we may never realistically be able to eliminate such an environment entirely we are nonetheless obligated to try if freedom is to stand for anything substantive other than a punch line.
I reject violence as a means of obtaining or maintaining independence over one’s life (except in the just course of self-defense), preferring the methods and teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. – himself a student of Jesus Christ, Gandhi, and Thoreau rather than militant or otherwise violent options. Dr. King preached the axiom that simply because the majority of a society holds to a certain perspective, this does not legitimately nullify the fundamental Natural Law that we are all individually subject and beholden to. Government, and in fact the citizenry as well, possesses a sovereign obligation to safeguard individual liberties especially in the face of social pressures or mores, if individual freedom is to truly reign for all.
While his was a struggle with specifically different context, his message nonetheless resonates (or should at least) with all people who have an appreciation for individual freedom and independence of will. Dr. King’s objectivity in foresight was commendable as he had every understandable reason, opportunity, and external pressure to convey a message of exclusion, blame, and contention but instead chose a path of inclusion and recognized that freedom for each of us is interdependent upon freedom from each of us, in a sense.
This basic tenet of his vision, as I interpret it, is predominantly why I make a concerted effort to recognize and defend the rights of others even when it means protecting the expression of opinions, actions, lifestyles, and beliefs that I do not subscribe to or may even detest on a personal level (provided they do not intrude upon or restrict the rights of others). This is often a quite difficult ethos to adhere to admittedly but I believe we must get past our initial emotive responses to specific situations before we attempt to evaluate their legitimacy as they relate to the wider context of Natural Law, lest we become petty tyrants ourselves without even realizing it. If we do not exercise great care in their treatment such an environment is destined to implode and render all of our fundamental rights worthless, given enough time. I contend that we are already well into several generations of slow, steady deterioration from within, enticed by instant gratification, entitlements, the lust to dominate others, and the unending need to meddle. That said, I hold to the hope that we are not too late to adjust this approach and salvage the grand experiment for ourselves and for subsequent generations to follow…