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On July 4, 1776, a revolution formally began that had been brewing for years. Prior to that time, leadership was a class. You were born into it or you weren’t. You either ruled or you didn’t. On that day, We, the People chose to stop being victims of a government outside of our control and start being responsible to create a govenrment of, by and for the very people being governed.
We the people still have ultimate responsibility, but we appear to be delegating more and more responsibility to the entity we created, almost as if it is something other than ourselves. We don’t seem to want responsibility when it becomes routine or difficult, so we offload it. “Let the government do it.” For 236 years, we in the U.S. have given more and more of our responsibility to a group of people called the government. In fact, sometimes it’s difficult to know if we’re giving the responsibility or if those in the group we created are taking that responsibility from us.
We the people have stopped being the solution to our own problems. We find too many solutions in laws and programs managed by the government, an organization that over time seems to become something other than what it was created to be.
Have We, the People created the very class of leaders that we declared our independence from those 236 years ago?
We the People need to return to being the solution. The health care crisis is borne out of fear of sickness and death. We’re the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, living longer and enjoying more leisure than ever before and we’re willing to create a bureaucracy that will eventually decide who lives and who dies, which sick people are worth treating and which are not.
And it’s not just health care. In the U.S. we’ve been making government bigger since it was created. Most recently the economic crisis, which arose out of our own greed, or unemployment, or homelessness or CEO compensation; each becomes another problem to give to the government. There seems to be no problem too big for the U.S. Government. But each problem we look to “the government” to solve is another lost opportunity to be “We the People.”
Do I love my TV and my air conditioning and my lifestyle too much to take responsibility for things like the health care of my neighbors? In my community, a church has started a free medical clinic. I wonder what challenges it will face as they attempt to provide free health care to people in our community. We the people must take responsibility for those who can’t afford medical care or housing or those who don’t have jobs. If we continue to relinquish our ability to self govern, we’ll lose our ability to self govern.
Photo © Dana S. Rothstein