Every nation has some form of governance and government. Some of these governments are good and beneficial to its people. But too often, some governments turn authoritarian and become extremely detrimental for its citizens. This occurs when the people in control of government have ulterior motives and become secretive about what they are doing.
There is frequently a considerable gap between the people of a nation and the government they live under. Even though their health and happiness depend upon government, most people lack sufficient knowledge of how their government is structured and how it is evolving. This can become very dangerous.
Stable and effective governments understand human nature and are committed to supporting the natural will of the people. Governments that are not committed to supporting the will of the people, will struggle to survive and eventually fail. Every nation should establish a written constitution that defines its governing philosophy and principles. In order to establish and maintain an effective and stable government, the constitution must be aligned with natural law and human nature.
But how does human nature influence government? This paper will explore the aspects of human nature that are critical to good government. Below are several terms that will be used in this paper.
Natural law is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature, and based on values intrinsic to human nature that can be deduced and applied independent of positive law (the enacted laws of a state or society).
Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental dispositions and characteristics—including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—that humans are said to have naturally. The term is often used to denote the essence of humankind, or what it ‘means’ to be human.
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community. Government normally consists of legislative, executive, and judiciary. Government is a means by which organizational policies are enforced, as well as a mechanism for determining policy.
Community is a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
Humans Live in Communities
Humans are social beings that naturally form communities for the benefit of themselves and the people they care about. These communities have things in common, such as norms, religion, values; and usually share a sense of place in a given geographical area. Most communities are beneficial to its members, but a significant number have been failures and totally harmful for their members.
The primary level of community is between spouses and grows to relationships with parents, children, extended families, and local towns. The upper end of the spectrum, countries, are made up of smaller, diverse communities. Small or enormous, communities share a common purpose, culture, rules, rights, and responsibilities. No matter the size, a community will succeed or fail for the same reason, which is not understanding human nature and not treating members fairly.
Communities consist of individuals with definite commonalities. One of the intrinsic features of human nature is individuality, in which each of individual is unique. Because they are unique, humans desire and need a free society in order to flourish. Humans also generally overlook the relationship between their own choices and their difficulties and, instead blame outside factors. So, they look to a higher authority to solve their challenges. As demonstrated in riots, looters expect freedoms for themselves but not others, and they want to regulate others but not themselves. While humans need a free society, they tend to be attracted to more dangerous collectivist societies.
The greatest challenge of government is understanding human nature and finding the optimal balance between the security and prosperity of the collective and the rights and autonomy of the individual. The members should contribute to the health and welfare of the community, but must also perceive a benefit from membership in the community. Finding this right balance is difficult and subjective, especially in America and results in constant adjustments and debate.
The conflict – Individual Will vs. General Will
The conflict associated with community stems from the needs and desires of the individual (Individual Will) vs. the safety and prosperity of the community (General Will).
For community the conflict is between the “Me” or the rights and autonomy of the individual, and the “We”, or the security and prosperity of the community. Certain laws and regulations are required in modern society in order to ensure security for all. And the only way for these laws and regulations to be successful is for individuals to suspend certain aspects of individual will for the greater good.
Individual Will – John Locke (1632-1704), was an eminent political thinker concerning the notion of individualism. He viewed all individuals as being created equal in the eyes of the creator and therefore God reserves the right to ownership of them. John Locke’s ethical and political individualism served as a cornerstone for the great American experiment in self-government, both in the sense of individual freedom and constitutional restraint.
General Will – General will, in political theory, is a collectively held will that aims at the common good or common interest. The general will is central to the political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) and an important concept in modern political thought.
A modern and effective community will place adequate attention to General Will, ensuring citizens are treated fairly and equitably. But as important, that community will safeguard Individual Will, enabling citizens to strive for and achieve their God given potential. A society begins declining when everyone has rights but fewer have responsibilities.
Requirements for Successful Communities (Large and Small)
In a successful family, members understand and support the rules and share in the rights and responsibilities. Like families, countries will fail if the members are not treated fairly, whether it pertains to rights and responsibilities or moral expectations and punishment. Rules must not be strict for some and lax for others. In countries, highly connected and special interest groups are receiving benefits and protections not available to regular members. And non-members are being granted the same benefits as members before they meet uniform standards and fulfill the responsibilities of membership.
When individuals feel that they are no longer free to live their lives as they desire, or feel they are being unjustly treated, they will begin to revolt. Governments should focus on the health and welfare of the country, while staying out of minor conflicts among members. The principle of subsidiarity states that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution. The Oxford English Dictionary states “a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed at a more local level.”
Because good and evil will always be part of human nature, successful communities must have a strong, effective, and fair justice system. An effective justice system protects members of the community and acts as a deterrent to would-be criminals. Without a fair and equal justice system, morality breaks down, crime increases, and the community evolves toward anarchy.
In order to be a truly cohesive community, there must be the correct balance between rights and responsibilities and between liberty and equality. With an effective balance there will be shared agreement, respect, and trust between members and between members and leaders. Leadership cannot mandate, commitment, passion, or positive attitudes. When leaders try, they apply unnatural regulations or force, which are negative influencers. The risk of too much liberty is anarchy, and the risk of too much control is a totalitarian government, under which liberty is severely restricted.
Where Are We Today?
Since the Civil Rights legislation in the 1960’s, America has become obsessed with a vision of a fairer, more equal society. This began with diversity programs and affirmative actions. These programs may have improved consciousness of social inequalities of past eras. But these programs also favor some members at the expense of others, violating a key aspects of community balance. Today a new form of unfair treatment has taken shape in the form of Identity Politics. This movement gives citizens license to unfairly criticize others which threatens harmony, cooperation and the health of the community.
Identity politics – is politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.
Identity is the distinguishing character or personality of an individual. It defines who you are, the way you think about yourself, the way you are viewed by the world based on the characteristics that define you. Identity encompasses the values people hold, which dictate the choices they make.
Every human has a combination of identities, some perceived as discriminated and others considered privileged. Many of these characteristics change over our lives, like age, education, social status etc. Focusing on identity is therefore unproductive and harmful to both the individual and the society.
America’s obsession with artificially creating a fairer, more equitable society has created an enormous number of risks and vulnerabilities.
- It creates a “Me Too” mentality. All human beings have experienced challenges in their lives. Successful people are able to assess their weaknesses, find ways to obtain skills and live a rewarding life. Claiming discrimination may be a quicker and easier way to a higher standard of living, but it doesn’t help you to grow.
- It opens the door for a victimization mentality in which our enemies can use against us. Suturing up anger of being victimized is a proven tool used to initiate a revolution toward totalitarian governments.
- It creates an industry of activization, which offers ways of earning a living without providing actual value to society.
- It creates a sense of entitlement, that stuns personal growth and is the cause of most of the anger and frustration in society today.
America didn’t become the greatest country in the history of humanity by accident. It happened because America was founded based on the principles of Natural Law and Natural Rights, which is synchronized with Human Nature. Commitment to these principles enabled Americans to prosper, guided by the optimum balance between liberty and responsibility to community. Natural rights, according to John Locke, were those rights that sprang from the exercise of “Natural Law”:
- a right to property, since we have a corresponding duty not to steal
- a right to life, since we have a duty not to kill
- a right to liberty, since we have a duty not to oppress
Today, America’s ideal balance is out of sync, and this is causing major turmoil throughout society. Our major cities are being destroyed by our own citizens and are no longer safe. We seem more concerned with an income gap, than the standard of living of everyone. Our budget deficit is out of control, and our revenues no longer meet our demands. Our justice system no longer provides equal justice for all. Religion is discouraged and there isn’t an alternative for teaching morality and self-sufficiency. Everyone has rights and privileges, but few have responsibilities. The news media no longer reports news but gives their opinions and shapes news. And people are being threatened for their viewpoints, not their actions.
We live in an extremely complex time, especially in regard to achieving the ideal balance between individuals and the community. There is a major ideological battle between the conservative right and the progressive left, each with a different view on the ideal solution. This ideological division seems to be getting wider all the time. And “We the People” are being bombarded with psychological warfare promoting a new world order that is fair and equal, but only makes the situation worse.
What is the solution and what should be the role of government? The Principle of subsidiarity holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate level that is consistent with their resolution. Yet our politicians are promoting policies that regulate and spend money at the highest level of government to achieve unity and equality. Will this direction result in that ideal balance or do we need to rethink things and find a better direction?
Learning Circle Discussion
It seems as if the majority of people in America are highly critical and dissatisfied with the government they live under. They are demanding incremental changes without understanding the impact on human nature or considering the longer-range impact. A subset of these changes may be having a positive impact, but unquestionably a portion are having extremely negative impact and creating new problems.
How can we ensure the people of the United States are educated of human nature and our structure of government so that we can make better decisions that are truly beneficial to the people and the health of our country?
- What do you feel are the most important aspects of community?
- Are these aspects different for larger communities than smaller communities?
- What is the government’s role in influencing the culture of America?
- Is the role of the federal government different than the states and local governments?
- Is America functioning under an effective balance between individuals and government?
- What is your vision of a fairer and more equal society?
- What actions should be taken to improve our country?
- How should America change its immigration policies and laws?
- Have diversity and affirmative action programs been effective?
- Is there a proper balance between rights and responsibilities in America?
- How should America improve the standard of living for all Americans?