Suppose I said to you;
“Friend, neighbor, countryman; There is a great wrong in the world. Because of this great wrong hundreds of millions of people find themselves trapped in a hopeless struggle just to keep their heads above water. They toil from sunrise to sunset only to see their effort come to nought; what little they gain is blown away like chaff in a strong breeze. Their greatest effort to improve their lot has little or no effect; they feel as though they are throwing rocks at the moon. Because of this great wrong, they lie down every night in defeat and rise every morning in despair. But, you and I, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, can fight this great wrong for them and we can beat it. It won’t be easy. It will take all of our heart, strength, and will, but we can beat it. And when we have defeated this evil our children’s – children will look on what we have accomplished and say; ‘See, this our fathers did for us.’
Will you join me in this great cause?”
Human beings are disposed by nature and taught by most cultures to seek out great challenges, a task that requires our utmost: something Worth doing. What is cheaply bought is cheaply valued. We place great stock in deeds that exact a heavy price. The most discontent in any society is always to be found among those who pay the smallest personal price for the benefits of that society.; the poorest or the wealthiest. Most people spend their lives searching for a cause that is larger than they are and are willing to throw themselves into a noble crusade against one thing or another with all the passion they possess.
But suppose after listening to the appeal above, and after you had stepped forward and said ” Here’s the blood of my heart and the strength of my hand”, suppose I then took your offered hand and snapped a pair of handcuffs on your wrist and locked it to mine and threw the key away? What would you then do?
I know what I would do. I would do nothing, I would know nothing, I would be nothing untill that chain were off my wrist. If I had to cut my hand off , cut your hand off, or kill you to free myself of that chain. For no matter how noble the cause, how pure the motivation, how wonderful the goal, I WILL NOT BE CHAINED.
And therein lies the great divide in our body politic. Some among us view elections as a glorious opportunity to gain control of the Great and Powerful Wizard of Government and MAKE people do what is right. They are so captivated by the vision of what wonderful things can be accomplished by people joined in common cause that they cannot see the difference between men freely joining hands in a shared purpose, and men who are chained together. Their solutions to the problems we all face; jobs, health care, security – financial and personal, is to chain us all together so as to more easily direct us toward the desired goal. And the goal is always benevolent, it is for our own good, it will make wonderful things happens, it will end the “Great Wrong” that afflicts us. But as we march in lock step toward the promised golden future, we notice that we no longer resemble a community of free people but a Chain Gang.
Others see public office as your turn to walk the wall, for a season, guarding the lives and rights of our countrymen so that they can pursue their happiness in peace and safety, secure in the knowledge that their labors will not be in vain. They see government as a powerful locomotive. If properly operated, on carefully laid out and firmly secured tracks, its awesome power can be harnessed to provide an overwhelming force that can be applied to the problems that a nation must deal with. But if some fool is allowed to take control of this engine and throw the throttle wide open, this force for good can jump the tracks and do incalculable damage to the lives it was supposed to protect.
“They see government as a powerful locomotive. If properly operated, on carefully laid out and firmly secured tracks, its awesome power can be harnessed to provide an overwhelming force that can be applied to the problems that a nation must deal with.” That is, until that powerful locomotive begins to bear down on us and we are in real danger of being run over.
Great post. Couldn’t agree with you more.