Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We the People

There are times when I feel it’s important to draw attention to the matters at hand, rather than the matters we are all guided to talk about. The immediate bull rancor of the bureaucrats, the politicians, the CEO’s, and the media is the economy.

Now, I’m no economist and I have no intention of dragging anyone through a mind numbing explanation of how spending money essentially can aid our economy. While it is a factual statement, there are restrictions on it. The biggest is, the only way to help our economy is to spend money within our economy. Meaning we should reduce our dependence on imported goods. All of this, however, is grossly distant from the point I wish to make.

In the 1978 radio series “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams drifts by several uniquely factual ideas. Most relevant of which is the point late in the series when the impetuous Zaphod Beeblebrox contacts his great grandfather Zaphod Beeblebrox the 4th. The ornery elder then points out the simplest premise in any democratic government.

“The president’s job is not to wield power, but to draw attention away from it.”

Within the series Zaphod, Arthur, and Ford Prefect eventually do find the one man in the universe that actually does wield the power. The existentialist gentleman, who theoretically rules the galaxy, is a rather detached man in a cabin who has named his cat “the lord.” This too is unimportant.

The idea I’m trying to reach, in a rather eventual sense, is that our government, while considerably more real than its fictional counterpart is essentially the same sort of smoke and mirrors.

John Locke, in his essay “Two Treatise on Social Government,” discussed the idea that the power of a government to rule was vested in the consent of the people to be governed. For those of you who aren’t avid historians, the founders of our country were profoundly influenced by the writings of John Locke. Those works were written nearly 100 years before our war for independence.  Again, I’m moving away from the point.

Ultimately, the government that leads us is based on our consent to its rule. Now, I in no way encourage abolishing our government. I would rather encourage the people to recognize and utilize our role in process.

The premise in theory will work unilaterally across all fronts. The government’s power rests solely in us, without us it has no purpose. Therefore we must discover ways to show our dissent. The problem with this is quantity. As individuals we all have the ability to write congressmen, to march on capitals with signs, and yes, to record our opinions on blog sites and editorial columns. But in these forms we fail to gather a large enough cohesive group to effect change.

We, ourselves, are partially to blame for this. Our culture is a vast mixing pot of immigrants. From the four corners of the Earth we have brought different behaviors, religions, ideas, and colors. Eventually, when we trace the power of the government we will find that these differences are the mechanism by which they keep us complacent.

Understand this; if a large enough group of people came together against a specific policy, there is no lobbying group that could save that policy. So the vested interest of the special interest groups is to stay stronger than the people, thereby supplanting their voice for ours. They do this by keeping us divided.

Have you thought about your division today? What separates you from the people you work with or interact with on a regular basis? Are you really that different?