|Language of Liberty|
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Words Matter: Government Is Not a Living Thing. Or Is It?
By Mark Herr, CSG Administrative Staff
In “A History of American Political Theories,” Charles Merriam stated, “The Revolutionary doctrines of an original state of nature, natural rights, the social contract, the idea that the function of the government is limited to the protection of person and property - none of these finds wide acceptance among the leaders in the development of political science.”
To illustrate this erroneous line of reasoning, New Zealand’s legislators recently passed a law giving the Whanganui River the legal status of a “PERSON.” The river now has its own rights and the ability to represent “itself” through human representation. Although New Zealand’s legislators are elected by the governed, a change in the meaning of one single word modified their entire structure of government – a government created by natural born persons.
A young Center for Self-Governance student, when asked to define “person” during a Level 1 training class, said “I would walk up to one and say hello.” It seems pretty straightforward and logical to most of us. However, it’s not so logical if the law re-defines the meaning of “person” and the meaning is different than our understanding.
Presently in New Zealand, the governed are now defined as categories of persons, such as “a legally generated juridical person,” “an artificial person,” and “a legal person,” just to name a few. The direct result is that the government is now used by the elected governors to protect and defend more than just natural-born persons, witness the Whanganui River. The New Zealand legislature’s action did not constrict the expansion of government and the control delegated to those who are elected, but rather, EXPANDED IT. By changing the definition of words, rights for natural born persons are nullified in favor of increasing the size of government. Is it not the primary purpose of government to secure the rights of the governed – of living, breathing, natural born persons?
Charles Merriam went on to say, “It is the [government] that makes liberty possible, determines what its limits shall be, guarantees and protects it.” This line of thinking leads to the mistaken belief that government is alive and the sole source of all liberty - an insidious philosophy that seeks to dominate and control the governed. What government gives, government can take away. To the owner of a words’ meaning, the spoken and written word is EXTREMELY valuable. Whoever controls the meaning of words directly affects our future happiness and productivity.
Ironically, when we utter the words "government has too much power," we are breathing life into an inanimate object - a system of government that we are responsible for maintaining. Our words "government has too much control" also breathe unnatural life into an “IT” by our own words.
Government has no more life and self-governing ability than municipal corporations, or jural entities. What’s next? Giving robots and artificial intelligence legal status with the same natural rights as humans? Doing so would open a Pandora’s box of chaos and tyranny for us all.
The “laws of nature and nature's God” we enjoy in the U.S. separates power from a system (like government) and separates the system from control (as in the control we delegate to our governors). Should we, naturally conceived and born persons, recognize cars as persons, simply because our elected governors tell us it is so? Because it is animated with metal, fuel, and electricity? And since the elected governors can find a way with their words to define the car as a person, should we be obligated to grant “IT” the same rights as a natural-born person?
The U.S. architects created a remarkable system of government based on law of nature principles, which establishes that it is not our system that is alive, but that power originates in nature, and all political power is inherent in the people (natural born persons) to be self-governed and maintain the system.
Our challenge is this: the maintenance and stability of our republic (“IT”) depends on the meaning of the words we utter daily.
To paraphrase Ben Franklin, “We have been given a republic if we can keep IT.” Literally, our journey of keeping “IT” begins with the meaning of the words we utter. This responsibility belongs solely to humans; not a system, not the media, or merely the governors we elect. When we give over our control of the meaning of words to the governors, they will do things like make a river a “person”, separate and equal to you! From now on, when you see the word “person” in the context of law and government, maybe you will want to ask your elected governors, “which kind of person?”
The spoken words of the governed and the governors are vitally important – not only the written words of the law and the constitution. We, the People of the United States must learn the U.S. system of government, create a culture of self-governance in our communities with fellow citizens devoted to becoming the system’s maintenance crew, and restore our republic, beginning with the words we use. After all, our system is an “IT”, not a living thing!
Mark Herr, Co-founder and President of Center for Self Governance, was born in England to a military father and was raised in South Korea. He is a retired Air Force veteran who served his entire career in Tokyo, Japan. Herr holds a BS in marketing & management and a MBA in finance & information systems. As a social and political scientist, Mark devotes 289 days per year, nationwide, to studying and teaching State Constitution, Regional government, City-County government, training citizens and legislators in applied civics, and teaching high school students foundational civics. He is co-authoring the book "Speaking the Language of Liberty”.
The Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self Governance (CSG) Administrative Team. The authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists. The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views of CSG. Contact them at email@example.com. To learn more, go to CenterForSelfGovernance.com.