James Leroy Wilson's blog

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Matter of Faith

Government justifies its existence because of the "anarchy" (that is, "chaos") that would ensue without it.

Does the theory fit the reality?

At its best, the State's institutions prevents the pitchfork-mob "let's get him!" mentality so often parodied in The Simpsons. Without the State, Michael Vick may well have been lynched a year ago.

Then again, because of the State, Michael Vick is in prison, although he violated no one's rights.

The occasion for mentioning last year's news is the Democrat sell-out last week of the Fourth Amendment.

It suggests that The State is worse than the diseases - crime, disorder, insecurity - that it is supposed to fix. If The State can violate your rights at will, that is worse than stateless anarchy, because at least then individuals have a chance to band together and protect themselves.

But the problem is, the debates go back and forth:
  • Who knows if the War on Terror saved more lives and property than a more freedom-friendly approach would have? Maybe some bad guys really were caught?
  • The 1,000 deaths per year in the Iraq War is dwarfed by America's domestic murder rate, which makes it seem not so bad after all. Compared to most major wars, it looks like a success.
This kind of thinking plagues domestic policy as well. After all:
  • It would be said that without government aid to industry, we'd be a third-world country;
  • It would be said that without welfare programs, we would have had a more extreme, communist revolution;
  • It would be said that without regulations on business practices and personal behavior, we'd have lower standards of living from business exploitation and lower life expectancies from uncontrolled, indulgent behavior.
Never mind, then, that the State is the most active thief, killer, and polluter in society, because without it things would supposedly be worse than they already are. Tens of millions of people believe this.

And I don't know if that position will ever be refuted with logic or any other form of persuasion. Perhaps Statism really is a religion, and at the core of all religion is a paradox:
  • Religion at its best encourages peace and harmony, both within the individual and within society, brought about by a genuine love for one's self and one's neighbor;
  • But religious discipline can warp one's mind into waging war against one's own flesh, and defers to others (Authorities in Organized Religion) on matter of faith, doctrine, and conduct, leading to abuse of power by those with Authoriy.
So critics of Religion say: "Yes, Religion fostered a few good things, but leads to so many bad things that have destroyed humankind's happiness and hope for survival," whereas advocates of Religion say, "Yes, Religion has fostered a few bad things, but leads to so many good things that have led to humankind's current standard of living, and is our only hope for survival."

Religion is the enemy of civilization, or is its foundation. People view The State the same way: it is the cause, or the destroyer, of civilizations.

Which came first, love or sacrifice? Which comes first, freedom or force?

However one may answer such questions, it is probably most important for the individual to make peace with an imperfect world, a world that won't conform to one's ideological beliefs and moral convictions. Recognizing that, the next question is, do we want inflict even more death and destruction on the world, or less? Because if we choose less death and destruction, we may actually look at facts on the ground, and investigate other people's beliefs, cultures, and histories.

The world you feel on the inside is the world you see on the outside. Is it a world at war, or a world at peace? If you are at peace with yourself, you are already free, and the biggest war has been won. Nobody can make the world free and peaceful, but individuals can choose to be free and peaceful. Perhaps the most important victories for Freedom are not seen in political change but in personal transformations.

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