Self Government: Key to Freedom
Throughout the turmoil, confusion, and destruction that came with Hurricanes Charley and Frances, Florida was blessed by a governing agency that preserved order, delivered care and helped to restore lives.
Everywhere this agency was active communities were safe from looting and lawlessness. It even made sure that drivers obeyed laws regarding four-way stops where traffic signals were inoperative.
It assured that resources were distributed according to the needs of families. Where there were surpluses of water or ice, it encouraged those resources to be shared with those lacking the same. This pervasive governmental agency led homeowners who did not suffer power outages to share their most intimate rooms with their neighbors who were not so blessed. It even brought some to allow others to hook into their electricity with power cords so refrigerators and lighting could continue to operate.
It helped to deliver medical care and soothe those facing trauma. This agency was responsible for sending workers to homes to clear debris, make minor repairs and prepare entire neighborhoods for the potential horror of the second hurricane in three weeks.
Where this agency was not at work, looters placed a strain on local law enforcement organizations. Tensions and frustrations led to confrontations between friends, and normally generous individuals took to hoarding resources and keeping to themselves.
This agency accomplished all this wonderful work without sending out media releases, seeking additional funding from the government, or even receiving campaign plaudits from the presidential candidates. Where it served, people were safe, nourished, and cared for. It was involved with citizens on the most intimate level of their thoughts and demanded the sharing of money and resources, but no one complained of intrusiveness or thought that it violated privacy rights or subverted capitalistic gain.
This magic, omnipresent agency that is impervious to political jockeying or cynical assaults from detractors is Self Government; personal moral restraint; the small quiet voice helping us to know the difference between right and wrong.
Morality has been presented as a great impediment to personal freedom. In the sense that moral limits are a restraint on the natural desires of individuals that presentation is true. On the other hand, when individuals conduct their lives with restraint for what they want and offer their talents and belongings for the service of others, then many of the government services that intrude upon our lives and drain our incomes would become obsolete.
A community of individuals who set a standard of respect for the property of others needs no surveillance from law enforcement officials who are charged with keeping the peace and incarcerating law breakers. If that community also honors the value of labor above the desire for profits, its members would recognize the rewards of hard work and, consequently, control covetousness for the status and assets of others. A potential side benefit to such a community is that lawyers, who capitalize on selfish motivations with civil suits between neighbors, would not be able to earn a living and would either have to seek honest work or move to another community that would fall for their schemes.
A culture that is built upon a moral consensus amongst its members would consider the intimate acts that bring children to be consummate acts of marriage. Spouses would honor their marital vows and consider abandonment of families to be a despicable act of wretched souls. Males would respect the honor of females and women would not attempt to manipulate men with their physical charms. Such relations between the sexes would dramatically reduce demands upon social services for single-parent families, abused spouses and children, and remove dysfunctional families and human beings as a public threat.
Surviving two major hurricanes within a month was an arduous undertaking for most of the state of Florida. On the other hand, many of the state’s citizens discovered that our real needs can be met without big government bureaucracies or political celebrities gracing us with their wisdom. For a short, inconvenient month many of us learned that the best mechanism that can provide our material needs, social order, and public safety is the intuition that there are nobler uses for our talents and assets than for the pursuit of our personal desires.
The assumption is offered here that those who seek power from the American political system really don’t want this realization spreading far outside the state of Florida.
September 14, 2004
Since 1993 Bob Strodtbeck has been writing commentaries for The Apopka Chief, a news weekly circulated in a community ten miles north of Orlando. His analyses investigate a wide range of topics from what he calls a “Christian pragmatic” view – that is to say, he considers that human interactions are largely driven by the human instinct toward self-service, which is traditionally known as sin. This perspective has given Bob great liberty to criticize governmental officials from both parties upon the standards of constitutional laws they swear to uphold and review cultural and economic phenomena from moral standards defined in the Bible. Bob currently lives in Orlando with his bride Pam and children Charlotte and Richard. He may be reached for comment here.