What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
This satirical video (with several strong points worthy of serious discussion) shows the growing disparity between the government and the people. This polarization is in stark contrast to the bold words on our Constitution that state “We the people”. We are the government. It is our master. They are our employees. They are accountable to us.
Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
In a 1960 letter to BYU administration and faculty, President David O. McKay said:
I cannot help but think that there is a direct relationship between the present evil trends which I have above indicated, and the very marked tendency of the people of our country to pass on to the state the responsibility for their moral and economic welfare. This trend to a welfare state in which people look to and worship government more than their God, is certain to sap the individual ambitions and moral fiber of our youth unless they are warned and rewarned of the consequences. History, of course, is replete with the downfall of nations who, instead of assuming their own responsibility for their religious and economic welfare, mistakenly attempted to shift their individual responsibility to the government.
Because of this shift in attitude in the past century, President Reagan’s words ring all too true, when he so aptly stated:
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. (A Time for Choosing, Address on behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater, Rendezvous with Destiny, October 27, 1964)
We are the catalyst to reduce the size of government. We are those responsible to tame the beast and its ever-growing powers. It was Thomas Jefferson who said “The greatest [calamity] which could befall [us would be] submission to a government of unlimited powers.”
Or perhaps George Washington said it best:
A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master.
Judge Robert H. Jackson, writing in American Communications Association v. Douds, commented likewise:
It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.
How well are we doing? Jefferson offered a probing statement allowing for self-examination: “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.” Are we timid? Or are we boldly defending our liberties, standing up against tyranny, and trying to keep the government in check?
These should then be attended to with great earnestness.
Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.
You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. (D&C 123:14-17)