Thursday, March 24, 2011

Power and the Law

"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", so said Lord Acton. Our Founders found this to be so, as well. They framed our government so power could not be absolute, or at least ideally. There are always ways around the law, but those that choose to abide by our laws do so to promote order, and value the liberty our laws are to protect!

Those that are driven by power are driven because of  insatiable needs that corrupt them from governing for the "greater good" or from being "public representatives" that serve the public's interests. Power does corrupt. Power has a deadening effect on those under it. There is a sense of invincibility when one has power to wield. Therefore, power must be held by those that are self-reflective enough to know its deadening impact. Many have lost their "life" and reputations because of using their power and influence to gain absolution from the law. Fudging on one's income taxes is to be expected, everyone does it. Then, what are the laws defending? Are laws there to protect some ideal? And what is the rationale for these laws and ideals?

These are questions that concern our courts, in our present day. But, they used to concern the average citizen. People were more prone to self-evaluation back then. Religion serves the purpose of self-reflection for fear of "God's judgment", or "fitting in" with the Church club. And rightly so, for the philosophers of the past said that an "unexamined life is one not worth living".

Religion today does not serve the purpose of "examing one's life". Religion serves the end of justification of one's life or one's end. This leaves little room for self-reflection or self-examination, and religion ends up being the validation of "stoning another" or judging another based on personal conviction.

Personal conviction was the liberty of conscience our Founders granted under law. Religous conscience is valued, but was never to condone the right of judgment, as that was the place of government. Government was to protect everyone's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, nowadays, the religious fear that our nation has gone too far.

While I agree that our nation has dissolved any means of evaluating values, it isn't because Americans aren't religious/believers, but because religion and the American way of life itself has gotten in the way of "self reflection". We don't have time to do everything on our plates. We delegate to those we hardly know and suffer the consequences of unwise delegation.

We hurry to meet all our promises, which we can hardly meet, with family responsibilities and we wonder why our families suffer or deadlines go by without our meeting them. We bite off more than we can chew. We must know our strengths and weaknesses enough to know what we can handle and make our choices wisely.

Many have gotten into financial straits because they have only looked at the monthly payment, and presumed upon the future, not preparing for it. Wisdom doesn't presume upon others, but meets life with an attitude that one must take their own responsiblity, and not look to others for the hand-out, nor should we compare our standard of living with another's. Everyone doesn't have the same material blessings. So what? The question should be is the pursuit of the material what life consists of? And what are the costs of such a pursuit?. This is not to say that no one should ever have a need that can't be met and our sociel networks could help provide, but more often than not, we are taught that we need dependence on others or that we have a right to have what everyone else has. Such teaching doesn't demand self-responsible behavior. Self-responsible behavior means that society consists for the most part of self-responsible adults, and not dependent children.

All governments are not equal. This is obvious to anyone that loves liberty. Is it moral to demand immoral governments to 'obey' or comply with human rights under the hand of our government's Power? How much should we intervene into other countries and their problems? And how do we choose to get involved? Are our own interests the only protections that are deemed worthy of using power? Obviously, America is limited by resources, and time. Are these what should frame what and when we "give a hand" to those wishing for reform?. But, there are other extenuating circumstances, that make for conflicting interests. Our politicians, and ambassadors are the ones that evaluate those decisions. And our judgments from afar might not know all the facts, nor the conflicts that impinge on such decisions.

I am no expert, by any means, but it seems to me that we all have biases about where we draw our lines. Most of us are not consistant, nor are we reflective enough to know why we choose what we do, nor why we do so. All of us need to evaluate ourselves and determine how we would "lead" if givern similar circumstances and ask ourselves why we make those choices. This would reveal our underlying motivations and determine our priority of values. Then, we might understand that decisions are not "black and white" solutions, but complex problems that need creative minds to solve.

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