In the middle of December, HuffingtonPost ran an article that listed “Five Horrible Things Congress Just Snuck Into Law.” And of course the President signed it. This was done to avoid a government shutdown – that was the argument anyway.
I can’t imagine it was too difficult to find some bad things in the law. I can imagine that the only difficulty that the author had was in deciding which five horrible things to include in the article.
That’s the problem with omnibus bills – they are sooooo large, that this type of thing becomes common place. Things get “snuck” in and aren’t found until it’s too late. There is such a thing as too big. Our own federal government is pretty good at this – being too big to see all the problems it creates – whether on purpose or as unintended consequences.
Yet we keeping thinking that having government take care of really important things in life is a good idea. We keep moving in the direction of adding more and more to government’s plate of responsibility.
We somehow have convinced ourselves that the people who run and work in government are just morally pure or more intelligent, or more something else.
But there is a conflict – the ideal vs. the reality. The reality of what we experience around us (the article is a reality check) vs. the ideal that government can do things effectively and has the power to do them and do them without corruption.
Government is made up of people – flawed people, immoral people – you know, people just like everyone else. They put their pants on the same way as everyone else. They aren’t smarter, more intelligent, more moral, more anything than anyone else. They just hold different jobs.
And our elected officials aren’t special people either. They certainly aren’t more intelligent or more moral than anyone else. They don’t have super powers. They aren’t more connected to God. No, really the only difference between you and them is that they decided to run, found the right connections to help them, and won.
This isn’t something that is specific to government though – lest you think I am just picking on government. No it’s for any large organization. Churches fall into this trap as well. So do large businesses. Even large non-profits get into these messes.
Anywhere that people are involved, stuff like this can and does happen. Anywhere that things get a bit too big, this stuff happens.
We’ll always be up against the ideal vs. the reality. Having an ideal is important – it moves us forward. But recognizing the reality is just as important. It grounds you and points you to where you actually are right now.
I’ll end with an analogy – if you are going to take a trip somewhere you absolutely need two things – you need to know where you are going. But you also need to know where you are starting out.
Sometimes it seems as though we have both – it’s just that the people who know where we are going and the people who know where we are are communicating with each other. They are too busy arguing over which map to use.