WE, THE PEOPLE...
Lynn M. Stuter
February 20, 2003
Who is responsible for what has happened to our once great nation? Who is responsible for allowing the transformation of our form of governance from representative (rule by law) to democracy (rule by man according to his own passions and opinions) or systems governance euphemistically termed "reinventing government" (Clinton and Gore)?
On the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Dr Benjamin Franklin proclaimed our nation a "republic, if you can keep it." Another wise man proclaimed vigilance to be the price of freedom. (See What Price Freedom and Our Democracy?
James Madison wrote, "...after establishing a government, they [the people] should watch over it..."
Have we done that? In large measure, no, we haven't. Why not? The excuses are many.
Many people are apathetic. They do not believe what they have to say will be heard in the halls of government, so why bother getting involved. They are just one person, their voice and involvement won't be missed. Leave it to the next guy. Unfortunately, the "next guy" probably believes the same way.
Some people are disenfranchised and disenchanted. They have come up against "the system" and have come away with "burnt fingers." They want nothing to do with a system of government so corrupt and so corrupted that the average law abiding American citizen cannot find justice. These people, in large measure, are easy targets for charismatic extremists who promise to protect them from the "big bad wolf" -- the government.
Some people don't care. So long as they are allowed (yes, allowed!) to have their big house, their fancy car, their big-screen television set, their comfortable chair and their beer; they don't care what goes on in the world around them. They are quite happy, quite willing, to give their tacit approval, via their silence, to whatever comes down from the "experts" on high.
Some people are too stressed. Getting ahead in the world can be a daunting task. When Mom and Dad both have to work to make ends meet and give Uncle Sam "his share," it can be very stressful. Getting involved just adds to that stress. It's easier to let the school raise their child(ren) ... let elected officials do whatever ... ignore the problems ...
Some people take the "head in sand" approach. They don't want to know because, in knowing, such requires they do something, they get involved, and they don't want to get involved. As in the tale of "The Little Red Hen," they have no qualms about reaping the benefit of the labor of others, but do have qualms about bending their backs to the labor required if benefit is to be achieved.
A wise man has said, "Take a man's freedom and he will fight you for it. Take a man's responsibility and he will hand you his freedom." Since this came from a book of sayings compiled by former Senator Harold Hochstatter of Moses Lake, Washington, it is my belief that he is the author of this particular quote. A solid Christian man, Senator Hochstatter refused to compromise his principles when he served the people at the state house in Olympia. He not only deserves our gratitude and respect, he also deserves our sincere thanks. To him I say, "thank you, Senator Hochstatter."
In a few words, Senator Hochstatter has set down an axiom the government has learned well. Take from society the responsibility of charity and empathy, take from parents the responsibility of overseeing the upbringing and education of their child(ren), take from the indigent and poor the responsibility of their survival and existence, and what do you have? You have a nation of people who will hand you their freedom.
Many people believe the government "cares" about them; that the government would never do anything to harm them. Government, any government, is there to justify its existence, and it can only justify its existence if it continues to grow in power and position in the name of "helping" the people. Thus we have such worn out clichés as "for the children ... for the elderly ... for the poor ... for the homeless." But, as stated before, if the government helps people to gain independence, then the government will defeat its ultimate goal of becoming larger and more powerful. So the government "helps" people by keeping them dependent on the government. This is like saying the way to help a junkie, a drug addict, is to provide to him more dope.
Our government was established as a "limited government" in which parents were responsible for the upbringing and education of their child(ren); in which society, in general, and churches were responsible for the poor, the indigent, the old, the infirm, the homeless. It was and is the responsibility of the people to keep the government within its established boundaries.
But that hasn't happened. Today, we have a burgeoning, inefficient bureaucracy with an added twist: tyranny in the name of protecting the system.
Who is responsible for all of this? While it would be nice to blame "those people over there," such is not the case. The blame lays with each and every American citizen who has failed to get involved, failed to maintain vigilance over the instruments of government established for all posterity by our Founding Fathers.
People are over taxed because they have allowed themselves to be; people are dependent because they have allowed themselves to be; people no longer have control over the upbringing and education of their child(ren) because they have allowed their responsibilities as parents to be taken from them.
We can blame whomever we wish to blame, but the fault, ultimately, lies with the people. None of this could have or would have happened had the people accepted the responsibility of vigilance placed upon them by the Founding Fathers as the price of their freedom.
The way back is to take back the responsibility for one's own and dedicate self to overcoming the tyranny that always comes about as a result of a system seeking to ensure its continued growth and increased power. That requires that we, each and all, become educated in the concepts and principles of self-governance necessary as a condition of freedom.
"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. .." (Declaration of Independence, In Congress, July 4, 1776.)
"We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (Preamble, U.S. Constitution)
In short, we, the people, are responsible for the state of our nation, and it is we, the people, who must act if our nation is to be returned to the strong footing on which it was established. We will not do so by waiting for someone else to do it. We, each of us, must do it.
We can be party to the solution, or we can be part of the problem. If we choose to do nothing, we will get what we deserve.
© 2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nation-wide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: http://www.icehouse.net/lmstuter E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org