Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Big Daddy

One of the most annoying traits of the Democratic Party has started to assert itself in this early presidential primary season, one that was largely responsible for my Republican Party affiliation prior to George Bush’s reign: Promoting the concept of government as the cure for all ills. Feeling screwed by the economy? Big Daddy can help you. Feeling persecuted by others? Big Daddy will force them to treat you right. Is the environment going down the tubes? Big Daddy will crack down on those nasty polluters. Just as the Religious Right insists that God and competition will fix everything, the Liberal Left expects that the federal government (properly run) can make the world fair, just, and prosperous for all.

If everyone was moral, thoughtful, and equally capable, the world could probably function with far fewer laws. The realization that they aren’t, along with my discoveries about the disastrous consequences of untested faith, created the philosophical basis for my ultimate split from the unholy alliance of the Republican Party and fundamentalist Christianity (catalyzed and reinforced by the arrogant aggression of the president and his cronies). I joined the ranks of Democrats because I share their passion for justice and prosperity for everyone, present and future, regardless of their personal circumstances.

I understood, finally, that individually we will not generally pursue a path that assures our survival as a community or a species. Instead, we must work collectively to acquire and disseminate knowledge about the Big Picture; it will never be made available by some greater entity, or self-proclaimed prophets. We must then work together to create the best future possible.

Just as a ship cannot be steered by everyone in the crew, and the captain alone cannot perform all of the functions required to acquire information and make the ship move, a society must organize itself into specialized, coordinating groups that enable it to progress in a common direction while maintaining its structural integrity. Governments, corporations, families and other groups all perform specialized functions that keep societies intact and thriving. No one group or type of group has enough power by itself to achieve all of a society’s objectives, nor should it. But just as we should not rely on any one group, we should not automatically assume that any group should have less of a role in society. We must be careful not to tear apart our civilization as mindlessly as we’ve destroyed Nature.

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