There are those who look to government to dictate a utopian society through laws, regulations, bureaucracy, government intervention, oversight, and funding. I don’t believe that those who feel this way are evil in their intentions at all. I think they honestly do wish to see a better world, where people are cared for, and all have an equal opportunity to find happiness. It is difficult to find fault in the intention. It is the means that I find most troubling, and where much of the division lies among Americans today. Whereas one group looks to the heavy hand of government to force an ideal society, the other group finds much to fear in that, for government is far too often owned and controlled by a powerful minority that cares little for those over whom they govern.
George Washington once said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
My ancestry, like that of many Americans, experienced first hand the wisdom of Washington’s words. By and large, they fled to America to find a place where they could be free from the heavy hand of government, free to pursue life, love, and happiness. My ancestors were Huguenot, French Protestants driven out of their country upon pain of death for their faith. They were Germans from Russia, a people forced into Russia under Catherine the Great, and hated for generations until Stalin saw fit to destroy the bulk of them who remained in Russia. They were Cherokee, forced out of their lands on the Trail of Tears. They were Confederates, who saw a savage and brutal war waged against them, and in their surrender, a harsh military occupation and the loss of their voice. These people all saw their homes, their peace, their happiness shattered by the brutal hand of government which sought to destroy them and to demonize them to create their own utopian vision.
I have inherited a healthy distrust for government.
I believe in people, and I believe that people will generally do what is right. Where they do not, a free society generally does a pretty good job of taking care of those issues. People will rise up to right injustices through various means, and when they do they are very effective. People will and do take care of each other with a compassion that no government agent could ever hold. I have far greater faith in my family, my neighbor, my community, than I could ever hold in an entity which draws power not from compassion, love, or community, but rather from the end of a gun. That gun should exist to protect the people and our freedoms.
Therein lies the cunundrum. There are problems that we collectively face, but while one sees the hand of government as the best solution, the other sees a more Orwellian view of such efforts. As Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to supply you with everything you need is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” I would rather place my faith in those things which are deserving of such a trust.
Do not mistake my distrust of power as racist, or uncaring, or any of the other words that political diatribe in this nation has eroded to. I’m sure this election will further erode the bonds that bind us, but it is my sincere hope that we can heal the rift, and understand not only the fundamental differences in our world views, but that each wishes a better life for all.