I apologize for my long absence. I went home on vacation and we were incredibly busy finding a new home and enjoying each other as a family, not to mention my wife’s brand new endeavor as lead singer for the 80’s rock cover band Redemption. I spent three weeks reconnecting with those I love and I find that now, my muse has returned!
As so often happens I have run across a couple of articles that got my gears turning. Both are independently interesting, but the two separate ideas fused together in my weird brain into a unique whole that I want to share with you now. The first article is from The Writer in Black and focuses on how we can overcome the welfare state by reducing the regulatory burdens on the marketplace. The second article is much denser academically, relating the key points found in a couple of books and dissertations by Dr. Daniel Wahl regarding design and education.
My background in Permaculture has exposed me to the ideas of deliberate design. The idea that we can see how things are now, envision how we want them, and design for that desired outcome. It works at the micro scale of designing a garden and at the macro scale of designing a civilization.
A number of ideas struck me from the second article. The idea that in order to bring about the societal and civilizational change we want to see happen we have to design the path from here to there with several key facets intact. We must have liberty to join the path or to reject it. Otherwise what we have isn’t a design but tyranny and, to quote one of my favorite lines from Last of the Mohicans, “that is a yoke I will not live under”. The other is respect for the ideas, traditions, and various hoped for outcomes of individuals. We will only ever agree on broad strokes of a desired outcome. Reduced crime and poverty. An end to famine. A healthy environment in which to live. A valued place in our local society. What exactly that looks like in our lives is highly individualistic. What I consider living with adequate physical and financial comforts might look like poverty to someone else. What I value as useful and fulfilling work for my life might look like frivolity to another. So long as you are content to let me live my life and suffer my consequences and so long as my life does not hinder you from living your own, we should have no conflict.
But this brings us to the second article, an article on the welfare state. The hard idea that it is no mercy to provide a basic living to those able to work. The author advocates the idea “if any of you would not work, neither shall he eat.” (And before you start “but what about…” note that word “would”. It’s a matter of will, not ability. If a person truly is incapable of doing anything of value that would qualify as work, then that’s a separate story. But how many of those are there really?)” This lack of will to work stems, by my belief, from the age old fallen nature of man. Whether the problem is sloth or greed or envy or malice, all the evil stumbling blocks of our lives come down to our fallen nature. So, how can we intelligently design towards a better future for our children weighed down as we are by our sin nature?
There are some philosophical answers to this, and some practical ones. The first is education. An educational system designed to promote thought and inquiry and experimentation rather than rote memorization would free up the minds of so many more workers “switched on” to help with these problems. We don’t need more drones, we need more artists and plumbers and inventors and entrepreneurs. We need a society instilled with certain basic values. Liberty, respect, beauty, and mercy should be the values of our society.
We have to acknowledge that there will always be those who, either because of their own failings or the impact of the failings of others, will not prosper. Some can be helped with psychiatry and drugs, others by being allowed to feel the full weight of the consequences of their actions. Only a very few of us are so bent from birth that they cannot be mended. But here we are edging back into human nature. It is my faith that has allowed me to flourish despite my circumstances. But that isn’t a prescription that can be forced. See above about the idea of liberty and respect for the right of individuality for others and my unwillingness to live under even a well-intentioned tyranny. This is why so many of the proscriptions offered by our fellow citizens on the Left cannot work. They depend on a level of coercion from the State to enforce the dictates designed to bring about the desired design. What I propose is very much harder, the transformation and freeing of souls to chart their own dangerous paths and the courage the allow them to fail.
Pic attribution: Thomas Cole “The Course of Empire” : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Course_of_Empire_(paintings)#/media/File:Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_The_Arcadian_or_Pastoral_State_1836.jpg