Sunday, April 10, 2011

#100 / Autoimmunity And Government

Wikipedia says that autoimmunity is the failure of an organism to recognize its own constituent parts as self, which allows an immune response against its own cells and tissues. According to the Arizona Center For Advanced Medicine, autoimmune diseases are the third most common category of disease in the United States.

Indeed, I am seeing a manifestation of autoimmune disease in politics and government!

Ronald Reagan famously stated, "government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." Well, let's make a short list of things that are mostly acknowledged to be "real" problems:

  • Economic stagnation and recession
  • Global warming
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Water pollution
  • Unsafe food
  • Crime

This is, clearly, what politicians like to call "a partial list....."

In each case, the only plausible solution to what are admittedly real problems would seem to be some sort of collective effort. No individual or voluntary association can solve or ameliorate these problems. We need to take action together.

Government, in fact, is how we normally address the very real economic, political, and social problems that we confront. Not to mention the role of government in helping us to realize our many opportunities. Making the most of our opportunities also requires a collective effort.

What we find, however, is that those who are critical of how well we are addressing our collective problems, from crime to economic dislocation and stagnation, are saying, right along with Ronald Reagan, that government (surely necessary to a solution for our problems) is in fact the problem itself. When you look at how elected officials conduct themselves, at least sometimes, you can understand this clamor for rejection. This week, such visceral anti-government feelings almost led to a complete shutdown of the federal government.

Somehow, we are not recognizing our governmental institutions as "parts of self." This is the very definition of autoimmune disease.

We can't have self-government unless we get involved ourselves, and from what I see, we need a lot more involvement in and commitment to government, not less.

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