Serve, Don't Help

Cops employed by the town of Hudson, Ohio are harassing drivers at "sobriety checkpoints" throughout the county this summer rather than confining themselves to their own jurisdiction. Sgt. John Lowman modestly brushed aside such ambitious tyranny: "We have a really good town [here in Hudson] — good resources," he told the Akron Beacon Journal. "It’s nice to be able to use those resources to help out the rest of the county."

Nice try, Sarge. You can imply all you like that this anti-Constitutional fascism helps the serfs of Summit County, but your victims know better. What you really mean is that you’re aiding and abetting the county’s various governments as they steal more of our money and freedom.

The cops perpetrate this theft via old-fashioned highway robbery. They set up roadblocks that detain all drivers unlucky enough to have chosen said route. The Beacon Journal explains: "Officers stand in line between cones on the road and approach each motorist’s window. Officers check the motorist’s license, seat-belt use and possibility of drug or alcohol impairment. If a problem is suspected the officer can send the motorist to the diversion area. Otherwise, the driver is permitted to leave."

"Permitted to leave." Wow.

These checkpoints aren’t "popular with the public," Lowman "acknowledged" to the Beacon, "but he believes they are necessary." Indeed. They condition formerly free Americans to bow and scrape in the hopes that the government’s bully boys release them to continue peacefully about their business. And despite snagging only 7 "drunk" drivers over three nights, the checkpoints replenish Leviathan’s coffers because they enable cops to catch and fine folks with unfastened seatbelts and expired licenses. (Lowman claims the take is "very minimal." We have only his word on this: stats on the loot from the last two categories aren’t available. Naturally. If they were, they might prove that "protecting" us from "dangerous" drivers is just another excuse for fleecing the sheeple.) And it’s discounted cash, too: Hudson’s totalitarianism was funded in part by a federal grant of $130,000 in 2004 and another "$150,000 for education, overtime pay and the checkpoints" in 2005. Nationwide, "almost 3000 police agencies — including 821 in Ohio — are involved." A cynic might conclude that cops love overtime pay almost as much as donuts.

I hope we all agree that checkpoints are a hallmark of police states, whether the excuse offered is drunk drivers on the roads or terrorists at the airports. So let’s turn instead to Lowman’s assertion that he and his fellow cops "help" us. Nor is he alone: politicians, bureaucrats and even private do-gooders constantly prattle about "helping" us.

We’ll even take it at face value. We’ll assume they actually believe that forcing us to behave as they think we should — and that stealing our money, imprisoning, or even killing us when we don’t — "helps" us. Why, then, does this notion grate?

Perhaps because a free man wants to be served, not helped. We "help" those who are inferior to us in some way by doing what we think best for them. Parents help children, teachers supposedly help students, doctors help patients as much as the Feds and the American Medical Association (AMA) allow. In each case, the more mature or better-informed person assesses the less mature or ignorant individual and does not what the inferior prefers but what the superior deems appropriate. Sometimes the authority decides correctly. But often he’s wrong.

Serving, on the other hand, describes the interaction between two equals. Entrepreneurs serve us. So do spouses in a loving marriage. The patronizing attitude, "I know best, and you’ll do what I say," is blessedly absent. Instead, one actor attempts to discern the other’s desire and then fulfills it without voicing judgement. Acme Supermarket hasn’t yet tried to stop me from piling my cart with Double-Stuffed Oreos and Doritos. Rather than haranguing me on trans-fat and healthy living, the cashier quickly scans my junk food, thanks me, and even bags everything for my convenience. Her smiling service helps me far more than the checkpoints’ arrogant cops ever could.

Christians ought to be especially sensitive to this distinction. We are called to serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13). In Almighty God alone do we find a "very present help" (Ps. 46:1). It is meet and right that we do: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Is. 55:9) Our infinitely superior Creator helps us, something we fallen human beings cannot do for each other. We can merely serve.

Unless we work for Leviathan, of course. The beast’s tin badges apparently confer divine powers.