Most of us accept the idea that we are each a unique person. It is not just extremely unlikely that you will come face to face with someone who is exactly you; it is, from all available evidence, impossible. Considering how many of us there have been and are, that is pretty amazing. If life were some sort of a giant puzzle, each person would be a unique puzzle piece fitting into his unique place in the world. I thought about this when I found out that a childhood friend is a psychiatrist. I had no idea what he would be when I knew him in school, but now I can clearly see that he was always a psychiatrist. Future engineers seem easier to spot when they are young. Another friend is an architect and artist. He became one to not be what his father wanted him to be. He’s not happy and is always battling his circumstances. I wonder what he really is or was supposed to be, or maybe he is exactly what he is supposed to be since it seems many artistic people have to have some battles with circumstance. I wonder about someone who was born to be a nuclear physicist, except that he was born in the Middle Ages. There must have been some career that he would have been a match for, if he had a chance to pursue his dream. Of course, the realization that we can be who we really are is a recent development for humankind.
The first nation founded on the idea that a man should be free to pursue happiness by finding his own place in the world was the United States of America. Most people born in the Middle Ages, or in much of the world today for that matter, had, and have, no choice in what they will do or be. I wonder if a serf in the Middle Ages, or a slave in the old South ever thought about what they would be if they were free. I suspect they did to some degree, but for many it was a complete impossibility. How many serfs and slaves were really doctors or judges? It is easy to see that denying people the right to be who they are is wrong, but it seems harder for people to admit that everyone must figure out what they are on their own. Equal opportunity means that everyone should have the opportunity to find out what they are and to become what they are capable of becoming. Holding people back by making them serfs or slaves is a very bad thing, but treating everyone as though they all can have equal outcomes is equally oppressive. I know that I do not hold any grudges against people like Henry Ford or Steve Jobs. They did much better in life than I have, but no one forced anyone to buy their products. Everyone in our society has benefited, directly or indirectly, from what they did. Their success helped you and me. When you look at life and government from this perspective, it seems obvious that a centrally run system designed to “guarantee” equal outcomes for all can never result in each unique individual finding their unique place in life.
The founders of our country were unique individuals who fit like puzzle pieces in their places in the world, but they were not some kind of elite bunch of geniuses who devised some really clever ways to rule the masses. I get the idea that many otherwise intelligent people think that is what they were and did. Our founders were representing people who wanted to have the freedom and opportunity to become what they could be. “We the people…” founded this country. The people were the ones that did not trust government; the founders were representatives of those people. The founders were no doubt exceptional people, but they answered to the people. They would not have been founders if they were not capable of carrying out the will of the people—no matter what they may personally have believed or not believed.
That is a preamble to talking about one of the fallacies that accompanies the idea that our founders were some kind of an elite. When historians on the right point out that we were founded as a Christian nation by Christians, those on the left love to talk about Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and others who were perhaps Deists, or at best unconventional Christians, ignoring the fact that no matter what they believed they were first and foremost the people’s representatives sent to do the will of the people—who were Christians by such a wide margin that it is not possible to even remotely consider the idea that the representatives of the people of 1776 were not creating a government for a Christian people. It is the people that were, and still are, largely Christian. The whole idea of America is that it is its people that define the nation, the government does not define it. The government is only there to serve the people. It has no other purpose. A nation’s population is not the same thing as a nation’s government. Our founders established a Christian nation through the creation of a government limited by checks and balances. The United States government was given limited powers because the people knew our founders were not an elite ruling class. The founders well knew they were not an elite. George Washington knew it and declined the opportunity to be king. He was the perfect puzzle piece for that place in our history.
Another falsehood is that our forefathers were including something other than Christianity in their definition of religion. They were not protecting false religions or any beliefs that advocate harming others when they included freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. The Christians who wrote the bill of rights wanted to be sure Catholics and Protestants did not repeat the mistakes made in Europe. They were in no way trying to protect Muslims, witches, or any others who would do harm to others. The mission of a Christian is to spread the good news of the Savior, Jesus Christ, not to kill anyone for his beliefs. The idea of protecting a false religion is ridiculous just on its face. A Christian is to treat other people as he would like to be treated—and he would like to be told about the one true God. That is the perspective of Christians now and then. A Muslim believes in something that is false. Why would any sane and civilized person protect the ability of someone else to dam his very soul? The answer is that a sane and civilized person would not.
Much has been said about nation building, but little has been said about how civilization is actually spread, or what civilization actually is. Our government cannot build another nation because it is nothing but a protective shell for our people and their nation. Our nation is a Christian nation whose people can and do spread Christianity, and Christianity is what created Western Civilization. When I talk about spreading Christianity many people think I am talking about Christian missionaries. I am, but I am also talking about all of the things the Western world has created for the benefit of all. Medical advances, Coke-a-Cola, iPhones, McDonalds, Walmart, and thousands of other things help mankind and make the U.S.A. the shining city on the hill, the envy of the world.
In the Old Testament God did not want to let the people be ruled by a king, but the people insisted and so He allowed it. Throughout history kings, chiefs, emperors, tzars, dictators, or others who are above the people being ruled have ruled every culture except for one. America was founded on the idea that all men are equal and that the people are greater than government. America’s system of checks and balances were designed to limit the power of government and to prevent a return to rule by kings. But it must be noted that people have not changed since the time of the Old Testament. Many, maybe even most, people think that we need a strong ruler to turn the country around and save it. The opposite is true. The ruler who can return our country to greatness is one who will become less so that the people can become what they can be. Modern Democrats and Independents look for a savior to rule us. People on the political right look for people who will respect the constitution and the limits of government; they already have a Savior.
Look at how far we have come since the founders of our nation created a government of the people. Government now inserts itself into virtually every aspect of our lives. We now face a challenge as big as the one faced by our founders. How do we change our government back into one that serves the people? Law is the foundation of government and the making of law has been compared to the making of sausages: ‘to retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.’ (Attributed to Otto von Bismarck) Clever statement, but how did that turn out for Germany? Unfortunately, many people now seem to think that they should not pay attention to the making of sausages or laws because they are both unpleasant processes. However, someone does have to watch the making of sausage if we are to insure we have good sausage, and someone has to watch the making of law if we are to have good government. If we are to have an efficient and effective government that works for each unique individual, we have to start to pay attention to government itself. In future posts I shall attempt to make a deep dive into government Efficiency, Metrics, Underground Gorilla Networks, Silos, Transparency, Fear, Planning, and Solutions as interesting as I possibly can. I shall begin with the 4th Branch.