When I found out about the tea parties earlier this year, I wanted to join in them here locally, but it seemed that I didn't know where they were or how to connect. I wanted to join not out of hostility toward our government, but because I am gravely concerned about the course of direction our country is taking. It did not start with our current president, but this has been growing over the years.
Here is my great concern: We are adopting a mentality that our problems are too large to be fixed by anyone but the government. The problem is: the government is us! We fund the government work so if we say we need something we are paying for it ourselves and at a higher cost than we could have achieved by going to private and personal solutions to our problems. The government adds the costs of administration that are higher than any private enterprise. What you get is a disconnect from the solution, because by adding layers and layers of administration, you almost guarantee mismanagement (you can blame the government for that later) but you also become removed from the solution as it is no longer personal.
If I know that you are in need, it would be wrong to ask someone else to help out when I am able. It would certainly be wrong to rob from someone else in order to meet your need. That was Robin Hood's gig. If your need is greater than what I can supply, then I can help to make your need known to those who can help, but you see in this scenario we are all becoming personally involved in seeing your need met. We are vested in your welfare and you then are accountable to us as your need is supplied. Not accountable that you are forced to repay; but that you use the resources to supply your need and you take personal action to secure your welfare for the future. If I am in need, I must honor your terms for receiving help.
If I send you to a government agency to receive help, they must create layers and layers of buracracy to ensure that your need is legitimate (because they don't know you) and they must create a mechanism to limit the flow to you to keep you from taking advantage of the resources. They may never see you again and have limited ways to hold the numbers of people needing help accountable for the help they receive. If I am in need I must play by their rules and they hold the power over my life.
Our country was founded on the principle that government should be limited and that the power should remain in the hands of the people. The more services you get from the government the more power you yield to them. We were founded on the concept that we should limit our times of need and work hard to maintain our independence, but our attitudes have shifted.
I remember my Dad's attitude toward credit. He saw going to a bank for a loan as an admission of failure. He saw that the lender then had power to influence your decisions and he would not live in servitude to the banker. Now we live in an age where the vast majority of American's have significant debt (Credit Card, Auto and Mortgage). Servitude is common, so it is not surprising that we would now look to the government to provide for our needs when we can no longer borrow to maintain the standard of living we enjoy. The cost of healthcare is great, but the loss of freedoms will be even greater if we allow the government to solve for our needs.
I am an oddball, I have never felt that Social Security was in my best interest. It was a temporary program to sustain the nation when the government created catastrophic financial failure. I don't believe that it ever should have continued. These social safety nets that we have like Social Security, Unemployment, Earned Income Tax Credit all take money from the pockets of tax paying citizens and redistribute wealth to those in need. I honestly think that we could have done better as Christians to help than the government can. Can you imagine the witness we would have? I am not suggesting a mission of social justice; I am suggesting that those who are truly poor and widowed should be able to look to us for a leg up.
My trip to the 9-12 tea party was amazing. There was not the hostility that people claim, though there were people who did not say kind words about our government or our President. I believe that even those leaders who are not godly are placed in office by God for a purpose. I think that purpose is to drive us back to our God and to seek his wisdom and strength. Israel asked for leaders like the other nations had and God granted their request. It eventually landed them in bondage, but God was faithful even then to see them through. I don't believe that tea party goers should compare Obama with Hitler (that is disrespectful), but I do think that we should all be alert to see the end of the path we are taking and to take action now before it is too late.
I think that we can honor our authorities and still speak out against abuses that we see and work to correct them. I think it means that we are writing to our representatives in government and sharing our concerns (respectfully).
At the tea party on 9-12, I was amazed that so many people could come together and be so kind toward one another. Though we were a crowd of at least a million I believe, people were gentle and kind. They said "pardon me" and "excuse me" when passing through the masses of people. People weren't prone to pushing and shoving. They were respectful, not hateful. I have been in crowds at fairs, in New York City, Rome Italy and even Washington DC as people were trying to get from one place to another and were not as gentle.
There were people who came from all over the United States. I understand that the garage at Union Station can hold 5000 buses and it was full. If each bus had 50 people, that is a sizeable crowd already. I also heard that you couldn't get train, plane or even car into the city due to the crowds. It was a huge mass of people to be sure. I was amazed at the number of citizens in walkers and wheel chairs who endured the physical challenges of being there who made the effort to come. Of all the people in the world who have a sense of the cost of healthcare, I am sure it was them. But they came in protest.
I got to thank one of the police officers for coming to work that day as I am sure that having any crowd that large is a job to manage. The officer replied to me that it wasn't a bad day at all. The police weren't concerned which tells me that this assembly was a peaceable one.
I travelled with a bus group from Richmond VA by myself. I was not concerned for my safety even once. On an average day in DC I can't say that would be true. In my next blog entry, look at some of the pictures and video I took.