Thursday, April 25, 2024

#116 / Thinking About The Government

Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
    - Bob Dylan

In his First Inaugural Address, on January 20, 1981, newly elected President Ronald Reagan said the following: 

Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.

After writing my blog posting published yesterday, I thought about Reagan's famous quote, which defines a very common understanding of "the governing systems that organize our lives," to use the words employed by Joe Mathews, who employed them in the newspaper column on which I commented yesterday. 

If "government" were a "thing," and not something that we "do," then it could be true that the government is "the problem," as President Reagan claimed, and as so many have come to believe is true. 

But any "government" that we can define as "the problem," is, in fact, a "thing." That idea about government is absolutely different from "self-government," which is something we "do." 

In other words, we will either "governed," or we will be "governing." 

The system that we have chosen to organize our lives is called "self-government," and unless we believe that "autocracy" is a better way to "organize our lives" than self-government, we can never say that "self-government" is "the problem." How we are governing ourselves, and what we have done, or what we are doing in connection with how we govern ourselves, those can be "problems." The process of self-government itself is not "the problem." The "problem," when a problem exists, is with what we are doing and how we are doing it, in connection with our efforts to govern ourselves.

In fact, in direct contradiction to our fortieth president, "government" can be "the solution" to our problems. Whatever problems we have, we can, in our system of "self-government," take action and choose to do something different, something new, to address the problems we have identified. That is how we find and implement solutions to address our problems.

We, who are out on the pavement, "thinking about the government," ought to be thinking about what we should be doing, specifically. Self-government means that WE have to do it. We have to decide what we ought to do, and then we actually have to do it. 

Ronald Reagan got it wrong - totally wrong, in fact, and totally backwards. And let me repeat something I just said, a few paragraphs back:

We will either be "governed," or we will "governing."
I know which side I'm on!

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