Consent of the Governed

Our society seems to have all but lost its ability to maintain freedom much longer.

The questions we ask and the ways we attempt to resolve problems in society are signs of this loss in ability. We have learned to look to government for solutions to all of the concerns we have in society. If we do not like something that other people do, we look to the government to change it, often by changing the laws.

The questions we ask ourselves tend to be: How can they do that? Or: Why would anyone need that?

Legislators at all levels seem to ask: What can we do about it? And: What will the public tolerate?

These legislators receive their JUST powers from the consent of the governed. Unjust powers cannot be given by anyone, because no one has authority to do something that is unjust. Unjust actions always violate our natural rights. When the governed do not understand their rights, or the limits of government, they allow the government to become unjust. Some of the governed even encourage the government to become unjust, perhaps due to a perverted sense of justice. Like feeding a monster, they expect that the monster will only destroy their enemies and will never turn on them. Maybe they are ignorant of history, or think that they are different for some reason. Whatever the case, people regularly give away their freedoms to tie the hands of their neighbors, usually without understanding the impact it will have on their own lives.

The question is about the role of government. We blame politicians and special interests for the problems we have in society, but we expect them to pass laws to correct those problems. On the other hand, they cannot pass laws without our consent. In other words, we must give up part of the power and authority we have by nature in order to allow them to act on our behalf to create, change, and enforce those laws.

The solution that we see is almost never to take more responsibility for ourselves or to make changes in our personal lives. We almost never consider the unintended loss of rights that we experience when we grant our consent to additional laws. Instead, we are so enamored with our own ideas or the relatively easy solutions offered by appeal to the government, that we give little or no thought to the effects of increasing the power of that government.

What is the role of government?

Some people have claimed that the role of government is to keep us “safe”.

Safety relates to the first of our God-given rights: Life. This is an important right, but it is not THE most important. It is only the most final.

The most important right is to use our liberty according to the dictates of our own conscience. For many of us, that means learning to better follow the direction of our God and prepare for eternity.

Life is important because the longer we live, the more opportunity we have to use our liberty. But liberty is the most important. It is for this reason that life has always been sacrificed in favor of the liberty of the next generation. “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

Property is important because it allows us to maintain life, as well as the independence to act according to our conscience…or liberty. The importance of both life and property as rights are the extent to which they allow for liberty. From this view, the question is not: Why does anyone need that? Instead, the question is: Is it the role of government to limit that?

Any number of tyrannical governments can keep you “safe.” But the proper role of government is to protect individual rights to life, liberty, and property.

Legislation and the courts have their place, but when we, as individuals, look to government to resolve our concerns, rather than personally addressing those concerns individually, as a family, and as a community, we are giving our consent to the increased size and scope of government.

Freedom can only be maintained by a moral people, because we cannot trust the moral relativity of a majority of people. We would always feel the need to protect ourselves through legislation and increased regulation, rather than trusting people to exercise self control, which increases the power of government and will, sooner or later, enslave a people.

 

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