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    Bureaucracy Makes War on Community {Part III}

    April 26, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I sometimes regret that I name a series of posts in its beginning, rather than seeing where the series goes and then naming it as an Afterthought. I say this, because I now see that I do not intend to spend much time discussing bureaucracy’s relationship with community, nor how it is inherently detrimental to community. Or at least, this isn’t really the main point, try as I might to stay on topic!

    In retrospect, I think that I fell into a trap when I allowed myself to be engaged {at BabyCenter} in this discussion at all. The question itself contains certain false assumptions about the role of government and personal responsibility. I knew that going into it, but considered it necessary to “engage culture where it was at,” as I have often been encouraged to do. I see now that this was a mistake.

    Often, when engaging culture at its own level, I go beyond acknowledging where culture is at to actually indulging it. Yes, culture is where it is. But culture will never rise to a level to which it is not challenged to be, either.

    After thinking about the Burning Question asking, “Should mothers be allowed to share or sell their breastmilk,” I can’t help but recognize that I should have simply approached the question as an inappropriate one, because in indulging the question, I am actually indulging the idea of bureaucracy.

    I have felt this way about other issues before, most recently being Propostion 73, which will be voted on in California in June. If enacted, Prop 73 would “change the State Constitution to require a doctor to notify a parent or guardian at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on a pregnant minor.” If the situation is argued on its own terms, then, yes, I agree that a minor’s parents should be notified. After all, she can’t even get an immunization without parental permission, not to mention notification. But, at the same time, Prop 73, in attempting to provide oversight for abortions, actually validates abortion as an option.

    Along the same lines, I think that when I became willing to debate whether mothers should be “allowed” to do something, I actually validated the concept that it was a morally acceptable option to dictate such things to a mother in the first place.

    A Christian should not ask the question “should we allow” in regards to a situation

    Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.
    –John Adams

    that is not morally absolute, because then the question is an assertion of power, an attempt by one group of citizens to control and dominate another. It is far better for the Christian to say, “I will not answer that question because it assumes a view of Man-as-Child that I refuse to accept.” And then the door is open to discussing the likes of the Law of Reaping and Sowing, or the idea that self-government {aka, self-control} is superior to governmental control, etc.

    The questions, “Is it wise?” or “In what instances would this not be wise?” are far better ones to ask, even in discussion with a nonChristian because it removes the struggle for power, allowing instead the search for Truth, or for what is best in a specific situation. In asking “What is wise?” the idea of wisdom is acknowledged–the person being asked is forced to engage the idea that there is such a thing as wisdom in the first place.

    To some extent, I think resorting to bureaucracy is actually a way of giving up on the culture. It sends the message that the citizens are incompetent, unable to make good decisions, and so seeks to place one broad legal requirement on the shoulders of said incompetent citizens. The Church has to rise above this and start sending the message that there are answers, that wisdom is real, and that there is hope for those who seek it.


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    1 Comment

  • Reply Si April 27, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    I really like your point about self-governance vs. governmental control of the individual through law. For our republican form of government to work properly, people must relearn the skill of regulating their behavior based on a higher standard. It was George Washington who wrote, “Of all the habits and dispositions that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports.”

    A free people must be a moral people. If we are not, we will eventually surrender our freedoms to the State in exchange for defending us from the immoral masses.

    We need government in a limited form, but not to legislate non-moral things like sharing breastmilk. Therefore, we need politicians who believe in man’s ability (and responsibility) to control himself.

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