A Lesson From The Government Shutdown

Government Shutdown | Self Governance Project
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By now, most rational Americans should be able to see through the political game played by both major parties and the media involving the partial government shutdown. Both parties paint the other as the villain who doesn’t care about families and functioning government. But in reality, all Democrats and Republicans care about is using the public, the furloughed employees, and the media coverage as tools in their never-ending quest to gain more power and influence to advance their respective agendas.

We’re being played. And we’re being made to care.

Government Is Not The Answer

I hope that one of the lessons we learn through the government shutdown is this: we should not place the government at the center of our lives.

Government was never intended to be the center of American life. If we place the government, and I would include politics, at the center our lives, we will ultimately be let down. The founders of our country knew that one way or another, government always lets its citizens down. The Constitution they created allowed citizens to live their lives, free from tyranny and burdensome government influence. The purpose of government was to protect life, liberty, and property.

Today, it feels like the government (or politics) has its hand or influence in every aspect of our lives.

Now, that isn’t to say that the nation’s citizens should not be civically engaged. Quite the opposite, actually. We should be engaged for the purpose of ensuring that government stays out of our lives.

But if you find yourself getting upset over the government shutdown, maybe it’s time to think about what kind of role the government currently plays in your life. Do you rely heavily on the government for day to day support? Or if the government slips into dysfunction, can you and your family still function?

To be clear, we should have a funded and functioning government. But it should not be a big part of our lives.

You may think that this is insensitive to those who are employed by the government who are not getting paid. Obviously, it is very frustrating to have your paycheck suspended and your cash flow stopped. But again, I think that highlights why it’s important not to rely on the government. Time and again, conservative or liberal, the government will fall short and let you down.

Be Your Own Master

It’s time we take the emphasis off the government in our lives and remember that we can choose what takes importance in our lives. We can choose what we focus on and what we do with our time. We may not be able to control what the pundits, politicians, and bureaucrats throw at us, but we can choose how we respond and what we do.

If each of us can re-learn to be masters of our own lives rather than waiting for our masters on Capitol Hill to tell us what to do, eventually, their influence and control will diminish and things will turn in the right direction.

As former President Calvin Coolidge once said,

We do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side be strengthened, the other side will take care of itself.

Calvin Coolidge (1925). “America’s Need for Education: And Other Educational Addresses”

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