59 Let freedom ring 21 Jul 2020
The Ernstraudian Way grew out of a discussion of togetherness: sharing happiness in mutual support settings. We want the fruits of cooperation. Humans need personal interaction. The quality of our relationships is the foundation of achievement and progress. Individuals and society build each other.
While we are rejoicing over the benefits of our togetherness, we encounter uncomfortable differences (article 39). When we are close enough together to pool our strengths (article 29), we are close enough to experience bumps and bruises to our individuality. To some people, community and diversity are opposite poles. That is obvious if community means we must be the same, and if diversity means being different without sameness. Today we examine unison (a single note) and harmony (a pleasing combination of notes).
Our discussion applies to two main arenas: private individuals and public society we will call government. Today’s title cuts two ways: freedom assured by good government and freedom from government.
Considering government first, we join in a social contract to specialize and pool our skills to make us more productive and improve standard of living. A unison pitch is not a symphony. We combine strengths and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. We achieve economy of scale. Freedom from want and freedom to expand characterize the well governed community in which people fairly obey the rules of harmony.
Our eagerness to advance communally must not extinguish diversity. When the public voice of government quashes individual differences, people need freedom from government. We need safeguards from excess. Shared love or cooperation is not a blessing when it becomes overbearing. Production that requires enforced uniformity is the enemy of individuality. That kind of stability and material accomplishment is not worth its price.
Considering private initiative, we have observed how well it can replace government gridlock. General public laws can be unwieldy when applied to specific local circumstances. Wealth controlled by an individual can be applied more directly, effectively, and personally even to the big problems in society (article 45). Effectiveness depends entirely on the private party article 56). When a private party grabs the flag and runs with it, the successful cases (article 49) are intensely satisfying.
Alas, private parties can also become overbearing in their desire to be needed. A major donor becomes a controlling element all too quickly, and the benevolence disappears when the manager of wealth goes off the track of genuine helpfulness. When largess becomes exercise of power, it is time to let freedom ring.
Consistent with Ernstraudian principles, we expect great generosity up to the point before it becomes overbearing. We do not submit to controlling overreach on the private or the government level. We ring for the freedom from want that is compatible with freedom from power.
Article 57 cited President Kennedy’s warning about government that is too big. That does not limit the size of projects; it examines the extent of power.
When achieving great goals means imposing control, human advancement is injured. It is good to do tasks together but bad to have few people control many people. Management according to law is meant to provide stability. That ceases to be good when it amounts to entrenchment and is wiped out in regime change.
Article 56 approved wealth in the hands of private individuals who use it for public benefit, who apply their management skills to better advantage than that found in government bureaucracy. This is injurious when the beneficiaries become dependent on that flow of resources so that they are vulnerable to loss of the patronage. Dependency is being subject to control. Donors who make themselves indispensable are exercising too much power.
In working relationships, the question quickly becomes who is controlling whom. Presumably, the electorate controls the government. The tendency is for government to control the people. Presumably, private generosity enables people to accomplish their dreams. The danger is for the beneficence to change into control.
We seek to keep a good thing good. Today’s title prepares us for a conclusion spuriously attributed to Jefferson: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
What does it mean to be free? from want? from bondage? from dependency?
Today’s article 59 is another review, this time of the way private and public entities deal in freedom issues. It is possible to be in bondage to either.