When Government Replaces God and Family

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Freedom
is the emancipation from the arbitrary rule of other men.
~ Mortimer
Adler

It is omnipotent,
omniscient, and omnipresent. It knows best what we need and what
must be done. We must trust in its absolute power, knowledge,
and presence in all areas of our lives. For this overseer is the
source of justice, truth, wisdom, wrath, and mercy.

So it appears
big government has become for the American people.

We used
to think of “God, family, and country,” but the significance
of the first two has been effectively diminished in this society
where self-reliance is the exception rather than the rule. Most
Americans would scoff at the assertion they have made the government
into a god, but a look at their dependency on the federal government
and loyalty to it prove otherwise.

Americans
are a people whose subservience to their “leaders” results
in nothing less than a form of worship. Standing ready to receive
their adulation are scores of political “saviors” promising
much while blatantly abusing the power of the office entrusted
them. Nationalism has become like a religion whose followers swear
by the state, even to the point of condemning fellow citizens
as traitors if they resist, reject, or condemn the aims and actions
of the government.

Government
as god

Consider
some properties shared by a number of religious faiths:

  • A benevolent,
    often patriarchal, entity.
  • Reverence
    not only for that benevolent force, but also for the symbols
    representing it.
  • Willingness
    to sacrifice.
  • Pledging
    a percentage of one’s income.
  • Cultural
    tradition of organized worship and desire to help others.

Even a cursory
examination of American society finds all of these aspects of
religion common to the “civil religion” of the U.S.
government.

From cradle
to the grave, it is to the government that people now look to
provide all the things a father should provide for his family
or which they previously had prayed for God to provide. These
include one’s physical needs of housing, food, medical care,
transportation, security, and safety, and a stipend ensuring financial
security into retirement.

In our society,
family and God have now been replaced by the all-knowing, all-powerful,
ever-present big government. Government is viewed as the source
to protect you and yours from any invading terrorizing force,
be it natural or man-made. Rather than looking to help one another
as Americans once did, they look to government to ensure that
none is hungry, none is without shelter, and none is without health
care. Significantly fading is the reliance Americans once had
on churches, charity, and family. People even look to government
to provide a fundamental building block of one’s moral character,
values, and intellectual development by entrusting the education
of children to it.

Big government
is more than willing to play the part of societal benefactor.
Where Americans once looked to their faith and family for true
benevolence in times of need, they now look to the god of government,
even for daily existence. It gladly steps in, reaping the benefits
of undeserved power and absolute rule over the lives of millions.

Reverence,
a profound respect, is maintained for government even when people
are unhappy with what it does. Many believe one must never express
disrespect for the government, its politicians (especially its
president), or its sacrosanct symbols, such as the flag. Toward
God, if one is a believer, such reverence comes naturally as we
acknowledge our own fallibilities and shortcomings in understanding
the mystery of life. A deep revulsion occurs when another desecrates
the symbols and icons of our faith.

But to give
such reverence to government, simply a group of fallible human beings,
is to bestow a higher value on “them,” resulting inevitably
in the manipulation of one’s deepest emotions. This explains
the extreme uncontrollable reactions many have toward other citizens
who express their displeasure with government policy through such
public demonstrations as burning or otherwise desecrating the flag.
To irrationally react with such extreme emotionalism over the desecration
of a national symbol (behaving as if the nation itself were being
attacked) is a sure sign of misplaced veneration.

Self-sacrifice
and the surrendering of one’s will, or permitting one’s
choices and behavior to be governed by a teaching believed to
be divinely inspired, is a major decision. Some make it; others
reject it. But all agree it’s an enormous decision, since
everything in one’s life is predicated on it. But why have
millions subordinated their own thoughts to the mindset and actions
of this government with such fervor? “My country right or
wrong” is so pervasive. Regardless of the revelations that
the government funds terrorists and evil dictators, uses torture,
engages in regime changes worldwide, is responsible for the deaths
and suffering of tens of thousands of innocents, and all manner
of other despicable and horrendous acts of imperialism, the people’s
greatest anger is often expressed against those who criticize
and identify the government’s perpetrations of evil and immorality.

Liberty
and nationalism

To speak
against the president and his administration is considered abominable;
worse yet, to speak against the troops terrorizing and killing
people worldwide is to commit the ultimate sin, with accusations
of treason not far behind. The personal will of such Americans
has become adulterated by nationalistic pride. They think not
with their own minds, nor feel with their own hearts, but mouth
the will of the government that praises such red-blooded patriotism.

People fork
over personal information, grant access to personal communications,
and submit to the tracking of their travel and finances. Willing
to sacrifice liberty for security, they even submit to the ultimate
sacrifice of their own blood in an unquestioning collective willingness
to die for any cause the government equates with defense of country.
Of course, government stands ready to bestow its title of hero
on those who needlessly die as pawns in the game of empire building.

And no greater
levy is collected from the American people than that collected
by the government. In many religious denominations, a tithe (10
percent) is suggested. The act of giving a percentage of one’s
income is meant to further works we believe in. We tithe because
we want to make sure needs are met and good is done. Compare that
to the approximately 50 percent of the average U.S. citizen’s
income given to the government in taxes (federal, state, local,
and Social Security taxes, Medicaid, property taxes, fuel taxes,
licensing, et cetera).

Nationalism
gives one a feeling of belonging; it builds a fervor for a mission
and confidence in even the most fearful and weak. Being part of
the group is comforting, and merging in with patriotic crowds
at ball games, fraternal groups, parades, and other gatherings
brings a source of pride, confidence, and strength. Nationalism
provides a belief system which all can fervently embrace. Reciting
the Pledge, singing songs, and waving the flag with others build
ritualistic camaraderie. It smothers any sense of personal responsibility,
even for such acts as the killing of innocents in foreign lands.
National justification now substitutes for moral justification.
It is a perfect example of the danger of collectivism. No crisis,
regardless of how severe, justifies supporting one’s government
if it is committing immoral and unethical acts.

Patriotism
is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when
hate for people other than your own comes first. ~ Charles
de Gaulle

Such nationalistic
“us versus them” thinking is sometimes evidenced in
the pervasive animosity expressed toward immigrants. Nationalistic
distrust, suspicion, and fear of those who are different sometimes
translate into organized anger and violence here and abroad.

Freedom
and dependency

Men do indeed
make gods in their own image, with the self-serving nature of
today’s politicians a direct reflection of the self-serving
nature of a weak people. They form a perverted unconstitutional
alliance with government, both as individuals and through their
businesses, because they permit selfishness to dictate actions
rather than ethics. They look to government to forcibly take from
some to give to others in need, distancing themselves yet further
from true charity and true religion.

Government
was created by us, to be subservient to us. It doesn’t grant
us rights or bestow blessings. Nor should it provide necessities
of daily life. People’s desire for such a benevolent entity
is natural, and I would say it is insightful as they recognize
a void in their lives; but making government the entity to which
they attribute such virtue is just plain wrong and a most dangerously
misplaced trust. Government is not humanizing; rather it is a
bureaucratic power-grabbing establishment that is the antithesis
of liberty, justice, freedom, compassion, and happiness.

Commitment
to reliance on faith and family is being replaced by allegiance,
reverence, and submission to the state as Americans become more
and more dependent on government for their very existence. Nationalism,
which oftentimes involves glorification of the state, has nothing
to do with freedom, but instead is a form of slavery. As a people,
Americans are allowing government to become the supreme authority
over their faith, their conscience, their very lives.

Man was
born to live in liberty, without restraint or regulation. We thrive
when we work for what we achieve rather than having it given to
us. The foundations which made this nation strong are being destroyed
as families lose economic independence, send their children to
failing government schools, and pay taxes for programs that destroy
personal autonomy and wreck havoc worldwide. And as people suffer,
they mistakenly look to government to solve their problems. Evil
is an insidious process. While a society would reject and resist
the worshiping of a human being and his administration if it were
thrust upon them all at once, they succumb to it and do not question
it if it is gradually introduced. People are now willingly compromising
the principles this country was founded upon in exchange for security
and being saved from whatever crisis they fear. That gradual abridgment
of freedoms can devolve into an extreme darkness of tyranny over
a society, before people realize what has happened.

No government
should be the source to protect and maintain a person throughout
his life, but that’s what is happening in the United States.
Government has become a false god, an idol with feet of clay,
and as such is destined to fail – to crumble – and along
with it the liberty and economy of the people, who in their weakness
and fear mistakenly venerated it.

The important
thing for libertarians to remember is that people can choose again.
Our job is simply to point the way to the truth, and encourage
others to join us. As crisis after crisis torments the American
people, each gives ample opportunity to reiterate what we have
been sharing all along: do not look to your oppressor, the government,
for solutions to the very problems it created. Right now, more
than ever before, people are discovering the truth of libertarian
ideas. It will be those who refuse to worship the graven images
of government who will remain ready to restore or rebuild this
nation upon principles of freedom, thereby returning us to the
peace, prosperity, and harmony Americans once enjoyed and were
respected for.

April
30, 2009

Christine
Smith is a writer from Colorado. Visit her
website
.

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