Monday, December 6, 2010

How the state co-opts community and personal responsibility

Here we have two opposing views on what it means to be a responsible member of a community.

In the first we have Jesus:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

And then we have The MTA, now co-opted by DHS:

Remember, if you see something, say something. Alert a police officer, train or bus operator, station personnel or call 888-NYC-SAFE.

The first requires individual courage and responsibility.

The second relinquishes both courage and responsibility to the state.

Since we are what we imitate, in which world would you live?


Kirby Olson said...

I didn't understand the choices, Michael. I do understand that we are asked to give give give all the time. I constantly hear this song on the radio by Michael Jackson, and decided I would try to do my own rendition of it. All profits donated to whoever, should someone wish to record it:

We are the 3rd world
We have no economy
So just start giving

We are the 3rd world
We are their children
Give us your money
So we can start living
(Our parents don't have any)
So just start giving

A choice was made for us
We were born into a world
Without tea and crumpets
It's time for you to make my day
So just start giving!

We are the 3rd world
Only you can save our lives
So just start giving!

Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

There's no hope at all
No freedom of speech
No rule of law
No private property

We are the 3rd world
We are their children
So just start giving!

There's a choice we didn't make
And you have to save our lives
So there'll be even more of us
So just start giving!

NB: I think your two ways of giving represent a false dichotomy and that there are other rationales available! But I still think what you are saying is valuable.

G. M. Palmer said...


Jesus tells us to engage each other if something is wrong.

The state (under DHS, but in general as well) wants us to tell the state if something is wrong.

Kirby Olson said...


Neutrino Cannon said...

Playing Devil's Advocate here:

Surely there are some sorts of conflict and wrong that exceed the the means of a single individual to diffuse? Should the State not encourage people to petition its help in such instances? The DHS is (nominally) concerned with preventing terrorism, which is surely one of those cases. Wouldn't that make their notice appropriate?

I'm anticipating a counter-argument along the lines that the existing state of things is for the State to attempt to impose itself in conflicts where the brave and industrious individual is entirely capable of prevailing. Further, this continued imposition has discouraged the development of bravery and industry.

G. M. Palmer said...


Yes to your anticipated counter argument.

I would add, however, that the state's very taking of any responsibility erodes our responsibility both in spirit and in fact.

Neutrino Cannon said...

I'm curious then; what would be the practical differences between delegating ones personal authority to deal with an issue and abdicating it entirely?

On paper the Department of Homeland Security was formed by consent of those it protects to deal with problems to which there was no acceptable previously existing alternative. The voters used their authority to select representatives who in due course passed the Homeland Security Act to address this deficiency. They are not, therefore, allowing someone to do their thinking and acting for them, they're opting to allow experts to deal with the problems on their behalf.

Or does your objection rise from the fact that it totally doesn't work like that at all?

J said...

In effect JC says try to work things out and don't just immediately snitch on people, even ones you don't care for--a somewhat tolerant view, rather opposed to the typical biblethumping tattletale, Foxnews-dolt, or GOP narc, such as....J-Edgar Kirby & Co.

Mark Tully said...

Added you to my blogroll. The way you bring religion to bear on current events may be of interest to my target audience. It's certainly of interest to me.

As far as this post goes, I suspect that we're just trained to be atomized and isolated from each other. Political violence (gangs, riots, strikes) is an acceptable norm in some cases. Yes the government has their "war on drugs", "war on poverty", "war on crime", etc. but everyone acknowledges that these are ineffective. Telling your neighborabout his faults sometimes ends you up shot. The pure degenerate nature of our community - more accurately, the lack of community - means we have no choice but to ask the state (which is run by those who created this situation) to intervene. It's very depressing.

G. M. Palmer said...

Mark--thanks for the link!

I would argue that we need to make the choice *not* to ask the state--meaning that we accept all the possible consequences and responsibilities of that action.

We cannot have responsibility if we do not take it back.

Kirby Olson said...

Luther says to turn the other cheek only means if you know the other person is a Christian so there's some source of appeal. If the person is a Crip or a Blood or Hannibal Lector, I think it would be crazy to talk nice to them, or to appeal to them. You'd be dead meat.

Appealing to the state would be the correct move in most cases.

IF the other person is a Christian, and is a close relative, it would be fine to appeal to their sense of theTen Commandments or what have you. If you were out deer hunting and their gun discharged and blew you in half yoiu wouldn't just fire back upon your brother.

You'd say something like I forgive you and love you, and then die.

But if it was a Crip blowing you in half, and they were going for your kids, then you'd ahve to hit them with the bazooka or what have you.

G. M. Palmer said...


It doesn't matter what Luther said.

It matters what Jesus said.

Kirby Olson said...

But Jesus was talking to his disciples, and to people who had come to hear him.

Luther was talking to everybody who was Lutheran (60 million at present).

So you have to analyze the context of what they were saying, and proceed accordingly.

J said...

J-Edgar Kirby's market share theology: Jeezuss had only a few dozen listeners (aka Apostles), Luther had 60 million. But Glenn Beck probably reaches 250 million+ with his daily ignis fatuus!

So Glenn Beck's message must be the bestest of 'em all. Holy golden plates of Moroni, ratman