Monday, April 18, 2016
Mom and Dad brought 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls, into the world in a span of 14 years. We spent most of those years, and several afterwards, in an old farmhouse that was pretty big, but not always big enough for 8 kids. It seemed that quite often there was some reason, real or imagined, for someone to be mad at one or all of their siblings, or for the boys to mad at the girls, or for the girls to be mad at the boys.
Dad, who turned out to be the default referee for most of those disagreements, would listen to both sides of the complaint if he had time, or shush us if he didn’t, and then simply explain, “Well, you have two choices. You can either stay mad, or you can get over it.” As it turned out, Dad was right as usual, and for the most part, whatever we were upset about passed in a day or two, and we moved on to being mad about, and getting over, something else.
There were a few times when one of us decided to stay mad, but after a while, we forgot what we were mad about, and realized that nobody else remembered or cared what we were mad about, so we eventually got over it whether we wanted to or not.
People all over the country seem to be a lot madder than they used to be, especially when they start discussing politics and the upcoming election. Some people got mad 8 years ago and haven’t gotten over it yet. Those same people might get over it if their party wins in November, but then all the people who were mad 16 years ago and got over it 8 years ago will get mad again and not get over it for a while.
I was thinking about the reasons why my siblings and I were more apt to get over being mad than people than people today, and I believe a lot of it comes down to power and force. I might have been terribly upset with one of my brothers because he wouldn’t help build a straw fort in the hay mow, but in the end I knew I couldn’t force him to help, and I also knew he couldn’t force me to help him on one of his projects if I chose not to.
We don’t enjoy those options after the elections when the winners get to make the rules, and then use the government to force the losers to comply. Every law or program the government adopts is backed up with force, or the threat of force. The choices others make voluntarily as individuals might tend to upset us for a while, but as long as they can’t force us to make the same choices, we stand a chance of getting over it fairly quickly. When the government gets involved, our options and choices become very limited.
It’s one of the things that attracted me to the libertarian philosophy. If a law doesn’t serve to protect everybody from the initiation of force or fraud, it really isn’t any of the government’s business. Anything beyond that is a matter for individuals to handle privately, and if people decide they want the government to regulate and manage some aspect of their lives, they need to submit to that regulation voluntarily.
A lot of people get mad when Libertarians push for a smaller, limited government, but I’m convinced if we would give it a try, they would get over it.