We Are Our Government

I’d like to talk today about the human tendency to personify things. In particular, today I want to try to convince you to stop thinking of instruments designed to represent groups as being separate entities from the groups themselves.

I live in the US, which (like most countries in which my readers reside) is a republic. That is “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law

That means that, if you are eligible to vote (whether you do or not), you are the government. It is not some entity that exists in Washington, separate from your daily life. It is neither out to get you, or to take care of you. Our government is us. It reflects our values and our desires. It is our tool for creating the society we want to live in.

Trying to frame it any other way simply belittles the people who can vote. It discourages them, and it helps to concentrate power. The power in a republic belongs to the voter. The people in Washington DC who formalize the laws are our representatives. Of course we should vote for people who share our values, but we should also expect them to put our needs above their desires in creating legislation. We should expect their positions to change if the popular opinion changes. That is not a weakness or fault.

A Corporation is not a person; it is a legal entity that represents the combined interest of more than one person. It is a tool, and no more an individual than a house. It protects a group of people from certain kinds of legal hassles as they, collectively, try to make money. Those people have the same rights as other people, plus the protections specifically outlined in the charter for the corporation. The idea that they have created a new person is insulting to real people everywhere.

To my fellow UUs:

Congregations are not people. The congregation is made up of people, but it is not a separate entity from those people. The Board is not a person, either. They are our representatives. The idea that any Thing can enter into covenant is disturbing; Only people can make such agreements with themselves or with other people.

We need to stop trying to make these distinctions, because they detract from our ability to deal with real problems. They are excuses for us to not invest completely in the governing of our congregations and the UUA

Democracy is a challenge and a responsibility. We have to accept that our laws do not just happen to us. Our public policy is a reflection of what we want, or at least what we are willing to allow to be done in our name. We have to be more active, and we absolutely must stop treating it like an entity unto itself. It is us.

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2 Responses

  1. […] make it possible. Tax breaks for the wealthy have cut off funding for government programs; programs our representatives put in place for our benefit. Loopholes have done even more damage, allowing companies to hide […]

  2. […] feel apart after “a free and responsible search“, but I feel that I have covered “right of conscience and democratic process” and a quick look at my tags will show that I have invested a lot of time and energy into […]

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