April 3, 2012

Government for Dummies

I'm not saying you're a dummy. I'm saying that I'm a dummy. Dummy, dummy, dummy... Especially when it comes to talking about government and politics.

The older that I get, the more that I have a deep feeling like I should try to understand more of this political and governmental stuff. But, every time that I try, I only get so far before I throw my hands up in the air and call it day. Then I head to the kitchen to comfort myself with a big dish of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. My most favorite ice cream of all-time. So, you see, spending too much time on governmental things can lead to obesity. One more reason to stay away from it.

However, as the children are getting older (funny thing, I don't think I can say the same for myself... ahem...) there is a necessity for me to try and wrap my brain around these things we call politics. Because, sooner or later, I'm going to have to try and teach them about these things. And, even if I'm not their teacher at some point, I at least want to try and have a knowledgeable discussion with them about these things. Because, these things, as in learning about how different governments are formed, what their good points and bad points are, will be important to our children when they start to vote. If you don't have any idea of how government works, why even bother to vote? And, if the desire to vote starts to fade away, what else will our future generations be willing to let float away with it?

The past two weeks or so I've drowned myself in political books. Old and new. Strange and boring. Whatever was public domain on the kindle, I downloaded it and read it. Whatever someone suggested to me, I tried to get through it. The end result was this: I had a tremendous headache. But, I do think that I learned a little bit, at least about mankind in general.

Everyone has their own opinion about what they think is "right" or what their definition of "happiness" is. For some, it's following a complete code of ethics and morals. Whetherer it's Christian or not didn't really seem to matter to most. They seemed more focused on the revelation that all men eventually have to answer to their conscious, and that alone seemed enough motivation to at least seek the truth and hold up some virtues in life. For others, however, it was the complete abandonment of religion because it caused too many problems. Get rid of religion and you get rid of hate. Plus, if there is no "God" to answer to, then anything goes. But, in doing so, you have to try and pretend that there is no conscious lying within your heart or that mankind is not inherently sinful. John Lennon wanted us to "Imagine there's no heaven..." and some parts of the world have tried that technique. It doesn't work.
Tyranny, oligarchy, monarchy, democracy, communism, socialism, fascism, anarchy.... ugh. They all have their own problems. The biggest one of them being mankind!

"Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned"  Romans 5:12

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."   Romans 3:23

"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." 
Romans 7:14-19

Why do I say mankind is the big problem? Well, my main point is that we are all horrible, rotten-to-the-core sinners. No matter what we do, even if we try to do it perfectly, it's still sinful. Even when we are certain that what we are doing is right and just, it still gets messed up by our sinfulness.

Is there any hope for us? Well, of course there is! If you are a Christian you have absolute trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. You've been baptized a child of God. You know that when you die, your body will be made whole again in heaven. That is our great hope. To be in heaven with our Lord and with those saints who have gone before us.

But, if you're wondering if there is any hope for us here on earth to make our world glorious, my answer is a bit more negative. I say, "No chance."
Why? Well, didn't I already tell you the reason? We're all sinful! There's no way that we are all going to get along and have perfect harmony with each other. It just isn't going to happen, even with the best of intentions. 

"With power comes great responsibility." The problem is that power tends to corrupt people even more than they already were. But, I still think we can try our best to do what is right and good, as long as you know that man is sinful and corrupt and will never live up to his expectations. And, apart from Christ Jesus, we're all done for.

In spite of all the difficulties we face in this day and age, I do believe that living in the republic of the United States of America is pretty wonderful. We have freedoms here that people in other parts of the world will never know. We have a sense of liberty born here that courses through our very beings, encouraging us to be upstanding citizens, giving children confidence that they can grow up to become whatever they want, supporting our choice to worship as we want. No, it's not perfect. It never will be. But, as far as things of this world go, my humble opinion is that it's one of the better governments out there. But it's not a guarantee that it will always continue to be so, especially if our children stop learning about what freedom and liberty really mean to them.

Learning about how government is run is still worth reading about and talking about with your children, no matter how painfully boring it may sound. As things in our political arena start to heat up again, with another big election approching, it's all the more worthwhile to take the time to ingest some of the grand ideas of government that are floating around out there. I only have one word of advice for you if you dare to do so: be sure to have your freezer stocked up with ice cream.