– Zach Ricks
“Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” Isaiah 52:8
Now, that first quote is both a call to action, and a sort of warning shot over your bow, dear reader. In this and maybe in future posts, I’m going to be referencing scripture.
Let me say up front: While I am a believing and practicing member of a faith, you may not be. Please understand that my purpose here is not to convert people to believing in any particular religious creed. Or, necessarily, in any creed at all. But if these words have given guidance to some of the best and brightest in the history of the race, if they’ve helped to strengthen people in times of trouble, if they’ve managed simply to survive as long as they have, then can we at least agree that there may be some value there for all of us?
Last time I was here, I left a message about hope. Hope, of course, is closely related to faith. It causes us to look forward, to see in our minds the vision of what may be. And those two siblings – Hope and Faith – are powerful tools. We will need them in the days ahead, because this fight is just beginning. But we are also warned that faith without works is dead, being alone. (James 2:17) So, our faith – our hope – has to be accompanied by action. Indeed, I’ve heard it said that faith is the motivating cause of ALL action. Which raises a logical question – What Action? Today, I’d like to talk about the next step.
What is the next step? That’s what everyone always wants to know. They’ve passed Health Care Reform! We’ve got to DO SOMETHING! And we’ve got to DO SOMETHING BIG, and we’ve got to DO IT RIGHT NOW!
There’s an obvious temptation to think that the size of the solution has to fit the size of the problem. That’s a perfectly sensible, utterly rational reaction. I just happen to think it’s the wrong one. You aren’t Superman (I know, I know – I had the cape when I was a kid too). You can’t leap over this problem in a single bound. You can’t undo one hundred years of movement to the left, a slow creeping encroachment of government into every aspect of our lives in a single massive action. And that, gentle reader, is very good news, because it means that the solutions we need – the CHANGE we need – the NEXT STEPS are small ones that are absolutely within our grasp to accomplish.
We don’t need massive political organizations to create change. We don’t need multi-million dollar think-tanks. We don’t need thousands of pages of legislation. Look at the Constitution itself. This document changed forever the relationship between men and government, and made a bet with everyone else on Earth. We can govern OURSELVES. This massive change came from a document that (including all of the current amendments) runs less than 20 type-written pages. You can read it in a single sitting. Small document – Massive changes.
Well, yes, I hear you all saying, that’s all well and good, but there’s got to be a next step. You mentioned a next step. WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP? Do we sue? Do we push for litigation? Do we protest? Do we push for impeachment? WHAT?
And that’s the best news of all, people, because if you’ve been meeting with us for the last year, you’ve already started doing it. What we need to do – our next step is – to UNITE. To EDUCATE. and to ACT.
WHAT?! THAT’S IT?! You can’t be serious!
I am. I am deadly serious. Please understand, I am NOT saying that we should sit on our laurels and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done this last year. I mean… okay… take five seconds… back patted? Good. Let me explain what I mean. At least, what I think this means for me.
When I say that we need to UNITE, what I mean is reaching out to people outside our normal group. I mean spreading the word. I mean opening your mouth. There are people out there who are scared – maybe a little panicked by what’s happening – by massive new incursions into areas traditionally off limits to the government. They need you. Reach out to them. And when you reach out, they will have questions. If you were in Thursday night’s meeting, you saw a great example of this. Someone had a question about what the appropriate alternative to massive government health care is. People are looking for those solutions (and they’re looking for big ones, too). We’ve got to be able to address those questions and those concerns.
When I say that we need to EDUCATE, what I mean is two things. First, we’ve done a good job going over the basic principles of the Constitution over the last year. We’ve worked through the 5,000 year leap, and we’ve gotten a lot of insight from it. The next thing we need to do, the next thing I need to do, is to go a little deeper. I’ve never read the Federalist Papers. I’ve never read Democracy in America. I’ve never read Aristotle’s Ethics, though I’ve meant to do those things for YEARS. And the crazy thing is, I can get them for free from a lot of sources on the Internet. If you’re reading this post, chances are that you can do the same thing. There are a ton of great, free texts at the Gutenberg Free e-Text Library. On the site, we’re going to start building a reading list. And if we find a link to free materials, we will share it. So watch this space. That’s thing one – go deeper into history, reason, ethics, etc. Read the classics – there’s really no substitute for them.
The second part of EDUCATE is to know and talk about the principles. We are not a group that publishes white papers. We don’t issue position statements. We don’t dictate policy. In fact (I’m going to say it again), chances are good that on matters of policy and implementation, we will not agree. BUT – we do agree on those principles, at least a good chuck of them. And when someone asks you what your position is on Health Care, the answer is in the principles. Government can’t force me to be charitable. We believe in being charitable, and thrifty in our own lives – so we can help other people when the need arises. We believe in families – historically, people had big families, and they relied on each other and helped each other through bad times. If someone asks you what your position is on Immigration Reform (and this one is coming), they’re going to call you names, and you can’t rise to their bait. You’ve got to know those principles, and base your answer there. The law applies to everyone and no one is above it. People need to take personal responsibility to follow the right course and enter the country legally. I’m grateful to be an American citizen, and I want others to have the same benefits.
And finally, ACT. You’re going to see us start to do small things on a local basis. We’re learning about how the system works, and how we can work with it to hold our representatives accountable. You’re going to see us attending school board meetings, and city council meetings. You’re going to see us start to look for places and ways to volunteer in the community. Small things. And as we get better at having an impact there, that impact will start to snowball.
If there is one thing – one thing you can do this week to help – one thing you can do this week to save the republic – it’s this. Have your neighbors over for coffee (or maybe some hot cocoa). Sit down, and have a conversation. Reach out to them. You don’t need to talk about politics. You don’t need to talk about the country. What you do need is to start building the kind of community we used to have – the communities where we knew each other, and we helped each other. Again, we don’t get there in a giant leap. We build that relationship one neighbor at a time. And if we have a strong community, we won’t need to rely on the faceless, emotionless Federal Government. We can rely on Bill down the street. We can count on Bobby across the drive. Because he knows he can count on us. That’s it. That’s the next step. It’s a small step. One person, maybe two. A warm beverage. Maybe some cookies. And a chat. Take that step.
Take one small step for you, and start us toward that giant leap we need to make for our country.