Let’s all Get Along
By Evelyn Pyburn
A plea for more fellowship in politics is nothing new. I have heard people calling for less “partisanship” for years and have understood part of it – or at least what I hope they mean – but there is another aspect I don’t think is wanted by some people. It is that, which seems more threatening, today, than it has for some decades.
Understanding and tolerating the views of fellow citizens is absolutely essential in a country in which freedom is promised to every individual citizen. So that — I not only “get,” but I would agree with it. But, when they seek “unity,” that could be far more difficult.
Asking for a compromise on a tax rate is doable, or the speed limit, or the boundaries of a precinct, but how do you compromise when the opposition is calling for your annihilation? Exactly how do the Jews of Israel compromise with Hamas demanding their total destruction? Does that mean agreeing to the killing of only half their population? Is that the kind of compromise expected of Israel? Just to get along?
It’s like being asked to compromise with someone who plans to shoot you. What kind of a compromise would you strike? About what kind of gun he should use?
That impossible compromise of two diametrically opposed positions is why there were early predictions that the fundamental principle of the US Constitution — declaring that all men are to be equal in a country that practiced slavery — would eventually lead to a civil war. The prognosticators understood that ideas are powerful and even a few words on a piece of paper hold great significance. Also, they understood that there was no way to compromise about how much of a slave’s life should be free. They are either free or they are not. Our founders knew all this, and yet they wrote the Constitution as they did. Freedom for the individual was a principle they believed important enough to the future of civilization that they were willing to fight for it.
Just think about the injustice of compromising fundamental issues. When someone is simply defending themselves or their property and are asked to compromise with the aggressor, such an agreement is most assuredly to the benefit of the aggressor at a cost to the defender. The defender against aggression will always lose unless he stands strong.
It is a contradiction to justice and a violation of a citizen’s rights. It’s a fundamental over which compromise is not possible, and it is the conflict that usually lies at the basis of most political conflicts today.
The specifics of all our disagreements vary greatly, from how we get our medical care to what kind of stove we can use in our kitchens. Whether we must ride a bus or drive an electric vehicle. The pending conflicts at issue could fill a book, and basic to all of them is the threat of the use of FORCE.
Why ever should the issue of whether the planet is getting warmer be a political one? It is only political because of the threat of the use of FORCE. For the most part, those who disagree are not resisting the conclusion of those who believe it, they are resisting the use of FORCE, which is really the primary goal of the whole debate. Those claiming to believe the planet is warming want to FORCE their ideas and solutions on others.
So how does a society bring about change? There’s a magic little word – it’s called persuasion. Rather than FORCE, you persuade. Rather than addressing the opposition with a club, you address their mind. One is the tool of the caveman the other of civilized society.
Rather than coerce manufacturers to build electric vehicles and then FORCE citizens to buy them, you build the car and build a market – a FREE market – in which the product is refined and its benefit can be demonstrated and consumers are persuaded that it is a better product. The process happens a thousand times a day and it works – if indeed the product is valid. If it is not valid, then what is the point?
Ahh, but there is a point, power over others — brute FORCE. Although the desirability of it is inexplicable.
As a political issue – as an issue that pertains most often to governments – we should not be surprised that this conflict exists. After all, government is FORCE. Government by definition is the legalized use of force. Advocates for a civilized society concluded long ago that the only legitimate use of force is in self-defense or in the defense of others. The men who wrote the US Constitution believed that that principle is one upon which government should also function and they wrote laws meant to deliver that end in our relationships, one with the other, and most especially with how government interacts with citizens.
We should also not be surprised that there are people who do not agree – people who covet power and are more than willing to use it against fellow human beings, even if it is only about what light bulb they should use.
So, if you are among those who just want us all to get along, you should first understand that it is the threat of the use of FORCE that is dividing us, not the many nuances of debates. I might have an opinion about what kind of stove you should use in your kitchen, but we really have no conflict until I attempt to FORCE you to use a specific stove.
If harmonizing while holding hands and singing kumbaya is the goal, then decide what you really think about using FORCE against your neighbor. If one is truly sincere in striving for greater harmony among people, drop any advocacy that relies upon the government pointing a gun at innocent citizens and demanding their obedience. Getting along will not only be achievable, it can be guaranteed. And, who knows what amazing things might truly be achieved.