I remember when I first learned that phrase, and the words that went along with it, the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. In fact, there was a song, "Schoolhouse Rock," which really helped me to learn it, but I digress.
The words took on real meaning from, of all things, a speech Captain Kirk give, in an episode of the original "Star Trek" series. Yeah, I know, he made many speeches in that show. This speech and one part of it, in particular, stuck in my mind.
Kirk spoke of how three words, "We the People," were different. These were tall words, proud. These were words proclaiming, to the world, that here, in USA, was a government of the people.
At the founding of our nation, that was a rarity. In the late 18the century, kings, emperors or Kaisers ruled. The norm was absolute rulers.
Yet, today, we seem to have forgotten those words and that fact. Recently, there was the anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The deep symbolism, of the event struck a chord with me. The bomber, whom I won't dignify the person by mentioning a name or calling him a man, as he's unworthy of either, meant to strike at the government. In a true way, he did strike the government of the USA. He blew up a government building and the people spilled out. Was there ever a better illustration of what makes up our government?
Yet, today, we hear more anger and vitriol hurled at our government, hurled in the name of protecting the people. I remember that Ronald Reagan was no fan of big government and many today claim to be carrying on his agenda. I don't see it.
Reagan supposedly hated big government, not all government. He saw the value in a strong defense and other vital services or agencies. I have to wonder, though, would he be accepted by the pundits and politicians who fight in his name?
I also hear the usual refrains from people: cut taxes, but don't cut MY services. For myself, I mind paying too much in taxes, who wouldn't? I don't mind paying my fair share. Lest we forget, taxes are the price we pay for civilization. If you want police to save you from harm, you; if you want an ambulance available to take you to the hospital, at a moment's notice; if you want power, water, good roads and schools and protection from foreign and domestic attacks, then you must pay taxes.
I keep coming back to those words: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
These are what a government does, why we need government and why we have to pay for it. If we want to form a union, to have justice and tranquility, to have defense and welfare, and to insure that our children have the same - don't vilify and destroy the government, our government, for when you do, you're really just tearing away at ourselves. To my way of thinking, that's like burning your own house down to fix the plumbing. It's like punching yourself in the face to pop a pimple.
Is government too big, yes, of course? Does government cost too much, yes, of course. Maybe, though, we should focus on the true message of Reagan and others like him: government is necessary, but it should be as small as possible.
So, don't tear down the house, just unclog the pipes.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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