I have an eclectic taste in music. From rock classics, to country ballads, to soulful blues. One of my favorite artists is Tim McGraw. He sings from the heart with clarity and purpose. I was pondering this blog post, thinking about what I would say about systems of government when Mr. McGraw came on my playlist. And this blog post became clearer. Of all the things I could say about government his words made the most sense to me. The words were meant for individuals but they can equally be applied to governing bodies and leaderships. For I believe a loving government is first and foremost, humble and kind.
A humble government is one that realizes they exist of the people and for the people. All the people. All the citizens of a nation must have an equal say in who governs them and how. Not an elite class within a single party membership. Not an absolute monarch who governs by birthright. Not an autocrat who governs through fear and intimidation. Not the rich and powerful who use their their wealth to unduly influence the levers of government. And not partisans who actively try to thwart the will of the people through such practices as gerrymandering, voter suppression, or outright lies. For all of these do not represent humility. They represent arrogance. Such impostors do not represent the will of the people. They represent the subjugation of the people.
Humility dictates that all the people, each individual citizen of voting age, should have an equal say in free and fair elections because a government is meant to govern on behalf of all its citizens. There is no ruling class in a humble nation. There is only a nation of peers.
A humble government is a strong government because it was chosen by the people. It’s strength comes from the mandate given to it by those people. An arrogant government that was never chosen by the people has no mandate to govern for the people.
Humility extends beyond voting rights however. A humble government:
- Confers on its citizens fundamental rights and freedoms thereby ceding power to the people
- Recognizes that greatness can come from any social class. The success of a child should not be defined by the circumstances of their birth. Character and hard-work must be allowed to succeed wherever it manifests. Upward mobility must be more than a noble thought. It must be made public policy
- Ensures each branch of government has appropriate levels of oversight on, and independence from, the other branches of government. Power is never to be concentrated in the hands of too few. For the greater the power the greater the humility must be.
- Acknowledges that it does not hold a monopoly on powerful beliefs or thoughts by separating religion or the lack thereof (i.e. atheism) from the state. That every person’s beliefs have a right to be expressed without censorship from the state
Humility must never preclude greatness. Humility does not mean governments cannot dream big. It merely means that when those dreams are achieved governments remain humble and recognize their success is founded on the backs of previous administrations of all political stripes, and the past generations of its citizens. It is recognizing that a government’s success is the result of the success of many others over the centuries and only together can they inspire a nation.
Similarly a kind government:
- Cares for it citizens regardless of their financial resources. All citizens deserve the dignity and compassion of medical care whenever it is needed
- Catches citizens when they fall. Employment insurance and social welfare programs are but two examples
- Takes steps to reduce income inequality. For when too much is controlled by too few upward mobility is jeopardized and a society’s fairness fades away
- Welcomes refugees fleeing persecution, war or violence regardless of race, religion, or nationality. Refugees must not be viewed as a burden or a threat, but as a building block on which to build a more diverse, just, and loving nation
- Is a humane government, never succumbing to cruelty. The civilization of a nation is based on how it treats its most unwanted. Death penalties and torture are aberrations of love. Kind governments recognize the sanctity of all life, even the most heinous
I have said earlier that the emergence of secular charters and constitutions instilling love into law was the most significant event in bringing about sacred love. But it was more than just the documents. It was the people, ordinary citizens, and their governments acting together to build more just and loving societies. And it is only when all citizens feel that they can fully participate in those societies that they become fully engaged and begin to reflect the values of that nation’s charters and constitutions.
This is what I believe a loving god, The Greatest Love, wants for all of us. And the first step on the pathway towards a loving government comes with free and fair elections. The Greatest Love cannot make this step on behalf of a nation’s citizens. Nor should it be imposed from the outside through methods like war and regime change. Instead change must be sought from the citizens within a nation. It is their nation and it must be their will that directs it. The citizens, all the citizens, must be given a voice and that voice must be allowed to effect change. Free and fair elections allow this but without such elections a citizenry will try to make their voice heard elsewhere, outside of voting booths. Methods such as peaceful protests, strikes, or other means of civil resistance can result. Leaderships which actively resist those methods and who work to suppress such protests, I believe, sew the seeds of their eventual demise. As an American president once said, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Free and fair elections must ensure that control over the executive and legislative direction of a nation rests with the entire population. Such elections serve as a relief valve by which citizens can voice their discontent and realize a peaceful transfer of power. They are the peaceful revolutions that ensure the direction of the executive and legislative branches is guided by the aspirations of the masses, instead of being dictated by an authoritarian few. A loving government then protects against the tyranny of those masses through an independent judiciary. In turn that independent judiciary is directed by charters, constitutions and laws that enshrine minority rights, fundamental freedoms, and equality into the heart of a nation. The words in those laws must reflect a love for, and an equality of, all persons and it is with those words that the bedrock of a nation is formed. Those words then serve as a beacon to attract the masses of the global village to that nations shores where they are welcomed with open and compassionate arms. In so doing I believe something wonderful happens. A nation’s love for all of its citizens becomes sacred.
And I believe it all starts when governments and citizens come together. Come together to be humble and kind.