By: David S. Petolicchio
In the 18th century, America had just been crafted amidst the tumult of a Revolutionary War with one of the largest empires on earth. The concepts that inspired this great and dangerous endeavor, were contingent upon the presupposition that humans have inherent value and that humans are also inherently immoral and corruptible. Man is constantly pursuing their own ambition or passion, regardless of status or circumstance. So with this we recognize that people cannot be explicitly left to rule one another with benevolence, however they can be trusted to be destructive to others in the pursuit of their own desires. At the same time, man is incapable of absolute self-rule considering their inherent nature of trampling others in order to get what they desire for themselves. So if we establish that man cannot be trusted to rule one another, but is also incompetent of self-rule, where does this leave us? It leaves us with a minimalist system of law and government that prioritizes individual liberty and forms a government designed to be in a perpetual state of conflict. The philosophy of adversarial government and human depravity are cornerstones of our system, and if you reject either one of these points, you will successfully undermine the nature of our government.
Why do you suppose that our institutions of “higher learning” broadly avoid these basic premises? We completely reject the idea that government, by it’s very nature, is a potential threat to liberty, just as much as the problems it is asked to cure. Our questions should not be framed in the manner of “how can government fix this for us” it should instead become a question of “how can I, and our society fix this problem”. This minor change in wording and presupposition though makes an astounding and permeating change in our reasoning. As soon as in our minds, government ceases to be an exclusively benign and beneficial entity, and transforms into the reality of it being a potentially ravenous machine of destruction, we will find ourselves both empowered and humbled. For the bulk of change and responsibility fall on our shoulders, as opposed to being a burden on this nameless faceless entity of government.
If it’s so empowering than why would it be so frightening? Answer: we are lazy. We, as a society of veritable potatoes, are averse to the notion of taking action and claiming personal responsibility. It takes work, effort, dedication, and compassion. Instead of brushing something off so you don’t have to dwell upon it, you are thrust into becoming a part of the world and becoming a guardian of other people’s welfare. Suggesting that it’s morally superior to coerce your neighbor into being charitable, versus going out and working to change society yourself, is a mockery of basic human nature. It is imperative to voluntarily be charitable. To voluntarily be kind. To voluntarily be compassionate. Coercion immediately changes charity into evil.