Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Rise and Origin of Government

"... the inability of moral virtue to govern..."

This is a strong phrase, but the one that Tom Paine gives as the reason for the rise and origin of government. I have not yet read far enough into Common Sense, the writing from which this quote emerges, to know if Paine makes any equations between the size of government and the relative level of disabled moral virtue. I do know he believed that the simpler something was, the less disordered it could be. And government for the hundreds of millions we now have as opposed to the population in the late 18th century also accounts for the size of our government.
As Paine points out, government is the mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern. I do not take from this particular passage that there is a permanent inability as it is a relative inability in moral virture. it does however, lend a clue as to how we can begin to alter our government. With that in mind, I want to make some observations in regards to moral virtue.

It is obvious that this issue of moral values is a big one today. The Christian Reich( I offer no apology as they act exactly this way) likes to think they possess it themselves, that they are the sole voice and interpreters of all moral. In reality, they don't represent even all of Christianity. There are actually many moral voices in America. Dare I say one for every religion? I know that is exaggerated, in that there are myriad hundreds of Christians sects that all have relatively the same moral code. Close to that will be the Jewish moral code, and likely the Muslim moral code. I would venture to say that even the eastern religions are close. I know Buddhism is, and even the pagan religions have one. What is important here is to realize that not every one operates off the same source for their moral code. And those considerations need to be accounted for and respected.

Particularly when we try to legislate morality, which in essence is all we can legislate. I do believe that the reason the Christain Reich has married itself to the current administration is because they have chosen the path of least resistance. They have chosen to legislate instead of demonstrate their morality. The point is obvious: if moral codes were being lived by more people, we wouldn't need laws to enforce them. As I already alluded to though, that is not the easy path. Legislating is, to borrow the biblical phrase, "putting on." It's a cast, where we really want the structure of a living bone. Living it means I have chosen a moral code, and it in-forms me. I actually take the effort to allow my moral code to change me. To challenge me. It forms, molds, and makes me inside. Hence the term, in-form. That's true information. It's developing the bone, so as not to learn to rely on a cast. Because under the cast is atrophy. And itching....

This isn't a question of will power either. The will is necessary, but not by itself. I was once told that if the tools I am using on my path don't work, don't use them. No matter what my path is, if if isn't informing me, I should find another one. Evolve. Which means in the end that truth is somewhat relative. If the shoe fits wear it as the saying goes. So, for example, I grew up a hippy. Got into the eastern thing in a dabbling sort of way. Then got into Christianity for 13 years. When it and they showed their true colors, I moved on. I explored Native American practices. I liked some of it. Some of them didn't like me, because I was the enemy. Well, I could believe that. So I moved on. I tried the practices of my pre-christian forefathers from Eire. Or what amounts to the best guess at what those may be. None of those tools worked for me in the real sense. I continued to move on. So I responded to my karma. And those tools work for me. Meditation works for me. So I use these tools. And if I find one even in this practice that doesn't, I discard it. The point is, find what works and USE it. Get in-formed. Know what is in-forming you. Because if enough of us develop the moral virtue to govern ourselves, then prison populations will go down. Government will become simpler. And the lives of those governing themsleves will be happier.


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