I have been considering the nature of government lately* and been wondering to what extent government can be un-biased, fair to all, and objective. Also, to what degree can the government really be separate from religion? Below are some of my thoughts, along with some ideas I’ve picked up from others.
The nature of government is one of enforcement. Nobody would rightly call an organization that merely makes suggestions, recommendations, or “rules” it never enforces a government. All true governments have some means of regulating their laws (or whims and fancies), whether it be police, the military, posse’s** or some similar thing.
Furthermore, the nature of government is to enforce something specific; enforcements originate from many things (e.g. “laws,” “decrees”), but they all bear one similarity: they have a definite nature. They may enforce on drug use, theft, the number of pets you own, or perhaps the color of a person’s hair (anything, really), but they don’t enforce sltjlshtlehshsbeltljet. Governments don’t say “eating beef is both legal and illegal” (unless perhaps they are insane).
Consequently, there is NO issue on which governments don’t take a stance. That may sound funny, but at a basic level it’s true. The stance may be, “This is perfectly legal,” “This is illegal and is punishable by a fine of $100,” “This is illegal and punishable by death,” and, in some cases, “You once offended me (the king) and therefore you are sentenced to a life in jail.”
To sum this up: the nature of government is to enforce views on others. Where those views come from varies country by country and issue by issue, but that statement is true of all governments.
So, when people say in regards to something like the hotly contested issue of abortion, “Well, I believe this is wrong but I don’t think I should impose my views on others,” are they saying something nonsensical? Somewhat. I believe that cheating is wrong, but do I think I should support a law to make all cheating in card games illegal? No. However, I believe that stealing is wrong, and I support the fact that we have laws against theft.
If someone’s sole reason for not supporting or opposing a law is that they don’t think they should impose their views on others, then the logical flow of their statement is against government entirely. After all, if you don’t think people should enforce their views, then you don’t think government should enforce the view that theft is wrong.
Really, it comes down to which issue you’re discussing. The question should not be, “Should I support enforcing my beliefs or not?” but rather, “Which beliefs of mine should be enforced and why?” Then comes the tricky part — answering that last question.
I’m thinking to write more about this, but we’ll see…
*When I drafted this weeks ago it was “lately.” I just haven’t gotten around to posting it until now.
**Technically, this should be spelled “posses,” but that would probably fail get the idea across.