State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Great Things By Simple Means

Looking forward to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament on Saturday (I’ll get to see half of each game), I thought about my brackets. We have a friendly competition, as a family, every year, and I was way ahead in points after the “Elite 8” had been decided. Even after picking 6 of the 8 correctly, I knew I would need a lot of luck to win the final standings. Why? Because the two I had missed were Missouri who had lost to Norfolk State in the first round, and Duke, who lost to Lehigh in the first round. I had pick both to go to the Final Four and
Duke to the Championship. A couple of my boys were much smarter, or luckier.

To be honest, I love a good upset and will sacrifice the bracket win to watch some little team beat a national powerhouse. And such was the case. With the Final Four decided, Syracuse lost, as well as North Carolina, so I didn’t get any of the Final Four and have already lost.

So now I’m looking back and thinking how much this actually applies to the world and its political battles. I knew early on that my bracket was doomed, by principle. Syracuse suspended one of their best players before the tournament started. By day two, Duke and Mizzou were gone. While my picks seemed to prosper for a while, these things caught up and it was over. Likewise, in the world changes aren’t often seen until long after the foundation for such change has been built up over a long period of time.

Think of the Revolutionary War. The war was relatively short. A few years of battle and a drastic change. But the foundation was layed over decades if not centuries for this to happen. The diffusion and belief in the ideas of Cicero and natural law, of Locke and man’s rights, and Adam Smith and free markets, took many years. People studied, debated, came to consensus. They pressed for their ideas with the King of England diplomatically. The excitement was long and boring. Finally, when it all came to war, there was a relatively quick event and a new Nation was born.

Look at the National Debt. It ticks up and has for many years. We know that it is unsustainable. We know that someday it will lead to an event that won’t be pretty. Yet staring at http://usdebtclock.org/ is a boring exercise and we tend to put it out of our minds. We generally don’t want to make the changes necessary to fix what seems to be a boring problem.

Now, let’s look at our own families. It’s almost fun to try and solve the world’s problems, but do we realize that our own children are the key to it all? Almost every problem that government tries to solve at the expense of some amount of our freedom is caused by a breakdown of a family at some level. Society in general, these days, seems more worried about earning a buck and providing physical “stuff” for children, but we seem to have lost our way in providing character building lessons and spending true quality time and real teaching. Could a book about history or science actually be more important to my children than the lastes Nike shoes? Could I really pass on my values and beliefs to my kids if I spent some real time with them?

As I look at the slow changes that affect our society today, which are setting up for the future big events, this is the one that we can all decide and do. This is beyond politics or ideologies. If we will invest in the next generation, the large events can be avoided or will simply help us to become better.

Finally, in reality, the political debate is kind of a sham. When a problem reaches the political world, it is generally because we already lost the battle on another front. Only after multiple failures of the institutions of family and neighbors and churches to problems generally end up on the governmental level. I ask and encourage everyone to participate in these small and simple things–being a good parent, being a good neighbor, etc. because these are the small things that cause great things to happen.

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  1. johnb

     /  March 28, 2012

    Thanks for the commentary (as my brackets have suffered their worst year ever!). As I have contemplated this, there seems to be a big push in government and media to downplay the need and usefulness of the traditional family, as well as religion. If this really is the case, it seems as though they could be doing this to drive more work (power) to themselves (see Alma 11:20).

    Our only defense to this attack is to make sure that we as parents actually take it on ourselves to teach our children the knowledge and values we have. If we were to do this, it seems as though the many arms the government has in our lives would lose their “need” and effectiveness. For example, Governor Herbert would not have even had to make a decision on vetoing the Sex-Ed bill, because there never would have been a need for that outside of the home in the first place.

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