"Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable." - Finley Peter Dunne
I am comfortable. I feel pretty safe in my Little Hovel. I tend to think of my government as helpful, for the most part.
Because I am a women's issues gadfly and mean to be, I troll the InterNet message boards for a chance to argue women's issues. One argument I hear pretty often goes sort of like this:
"No, you are not in control of your body because The Gummint makes laws about what you can do with it. You can't just take drugs, for example."
Well, actually, I can if I choose too. And I have. I am astounded that anyone thinks The Rules keep people good, instead of what is plainly evident. It is humanity's goodness and longing for peace that keeps The Peace of the Rule of Law. The revolution in Egypt being a case in point.
In real life, I can choose whatever I want and pay for it. The government has only two responses to behavior it wishes I would not do: prohibition and punishment. These are both weak responses in the face of psychoses and/or casual and joyful wrongdoing. How so? Follow me.
I had to have a background check to do a job. I came up with a spotless record. I breathed a sigh of relief because I subscribe to the Rule of Law for the most part, I want my government to be effective and expect it to be, and I thought My Sin would surely find me.
My arrest in 1975 for growing 7 six foot tall marijuana plants in the greenhouse of my country home never showed up. It is the only time I ever got arrested. Somehow the Police got the idea that my house was the East Coast depot for all the Humboldt County Green. They sent a truck to tow away the marijuana. And three squad cars. I was out. They left me a note. Mrs. B, please come on over to the police station. So fully expecting to be slammed into the Pokey, I ambled on over to the station house.
They booked me. And some of the folks who lived in my house. I confessed to the Judge so they would let my innocent gardener go. The Russian carpenter and mental defective living in the basement confessed too. I plead guilty to Misdemeanor Cultivation of a Controlled Dangerous Substance. Cost me a $175.00 fine and they took the plants and the baggie with about a gram in it that belonged to Sergei. All because the municipal dog catcher had the hots for me and came round to put the make on me one afternoon.
I think, on the whole, that even though I had no house I could see out any window and my nearest neighbor was two miles away, it was a mistake to swim naked in the pool.
Ah, the War on Drugs. The story above tells us how effective the Gummint is at "controlling my body." And keeping track of crime. And punishing and keeping track of Evildoers like me. Good thing I am not a psychopath and I am sober. Think how much trouble I could get into if I tried, know what I mean? And there are people out there trying every day. The Druggies are winning.
So let us just shed the idea that order is imposed and can be imposed by the government without the cooperation of the people. I leave you with this from Lao Tzu translated by Herrymon Maurer.
Govern the country by regular rules;
Direct the army by cunning moves;
But win the world by avoiding fuss.
How do I know that this is so?
The more rules and prohibitions there are,
The poorer the people become.
The sharper the weapons there are,
The greater the country's confusion.
The cleverer the people become,
The more cunning acts take place.
The more laws and orders there are,
The more thieves and robbers appear.
Therefore the sage says:
I do nothing,
And the people of themselves reform.
I love stillness,
And the people of themselves grow straight.
I don't fuss,
And the people of themselves get rich.
I don't want,
And the people of themselves grow simple.
When the law is dumb dumb,
The people are simple simple.
When the law is smart smart,
The people are broke broke.
Good fortune rests on bad fortune;
Bad fortune hides in good fortune.
Who knows the end of this?
It does not stop:
The normal turns into the odd;
The good turns into the weird.
Long have the people been in a stew!
Therefore the sage is
Severe, but he doesn't cut;
Exact, but he doesn't hurt;
Straight, but he doesn't strain;
Bright, but he doesn't dazzle.