Government - it's not what you think.

A set of illustrated lessons.


Two kinds of government. Grandma says grace.

Here's how it works: When someone doesn't cooperate, use coercion - threats, fines, arrests, physical violence. The interface between the government and the citizenry takes the shape of armed enforcers. At the grass roots, our leadership is invisible. Years go by without seeing an elected official or public servant, other than a cop. Yet no one questions this mode of governance. We follow the direction of a 9th-grade dropout with billy-club and taser, who kicks in doors and throws people to the ground, but pay no heed to the wise grandmothers who sit and pray with us.

Two kinds of government. Dahlia gardens in the right-of-way.

Human evolution is intertwined with the plants and critters. Living close to the land brings out this connection. Moreover, the land has a civilizing effect - calming, nurturing. Organic gardening in a public space accomplishes more than beautification, and more even than sustainability. It shows that someone cares enough to be a steward for the immediate zone of habitation where neighbors live. In becoming visible and accessible in the "garden zone," gardeners open up channels of communication among households. Simply establishing a responsible presence, interacting innocently, gardeners exert an influence: cordial, intimate, cooperative - contrasted with formal, distant, impersonal, coerced. By acting civilly, we govern.

Two kinds of justice. Culture and community vs. lawyers and courtroom formalities.

Centuries of ignorance, and the loss of every vestige of indigenous culture and natural law have produced a society devoid of fundamental human values. Community disappeared, lawyers replaced leaders and modern life is so disconnected from man’s cosmic source that people can’t even see how far off base we’ve gone. When it comes to law and government, it’s the blind leading the blind.

Gardens: a different kind of defense.

What kind of tank driver would be deterred by a flower bed? Answer: a civilized tank driver. What kind of world would there be when dahlias defeated army divisions? Answer: a civilized world. What kind of world are we in now, where tank invasions crush orchards and fields? Do I need to tell you? Try to imagine a nation, a society where no human being dares profane the sanctity of a garden or an orchard, neither in war, nor in peace, no matter the circumstance. If you can imagine it, it can happen.

The government is like a plumber ... just make a service call, right?

People who live in isolation tend to think of the government the same way they think of a plumber. When there’s a problem, we summon an outside expert. Whether it’s a clogged sink or a suspicious car, you handle it the same: Make a service call. The operation is completely impersonal. You don’t care who the guy is or where he comes from. Repairman or policeman, just get down here and get this pipe cleared. Moreover, there is a lot of magic in our lives. Our appliances are magically powered from a wall outlet. We watch TV pictures that travel magically through the air to reach us. The doctor gives us a magic pill to make us well. Where does the water come from? Who put the telephone poles there? How did this can of tuna get to the supermarket? Someone has taken care of it, but few know who, or how, or what’s really involved. It could all be directed from an underground bunker in Idaho. There could be Martians at the controls. Who knows? The complexity of modern life is such that it takes a genius to understand anything and an army of engineers to make it work. The average person has been rendered powerless, with no meaningful role in a world that operates by mechanisms far removed from his daily life.

Another stark contrast. Fist-fighting parlimentarians vs. a group of women silently meditating.

Peaceful coexistence … yes, but where does the peace come from? What force brings men to gather and live together cooperatively? Moreover, what stops a man from stealing property, spreading gossip or throwing a punch at someone - even when a punch is warranted? What is the origin of civility? Whatever it is, government is lacking the ingredient. Conflict is the hallmark of modern administration. It’s so deeply ingrained that we take it as normal. But government without conflict is possible. If more of us would dive within periodically, the magic ingredient would manifest: clear thinking, which would yield conflict-free agreement on the decisions that matter most.

The quality exhibited by every variety of patriot, rebel and freedom fighter: phony righteousness.

The characteristic exhibited by men of purpose on both sides of the law -- be they deputies or rebels, officials or insurgents -- is phony righteousness. In this respect there is no difference between a small-town sheriff in Nebraska and a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. Both are laboring under self delusion; a blindness so profound that remote killing is acceptable, assassinations are right and just, and bombings are just part of the game plan. So long as the imagined moral criteria are upheld, the gravest atrocities are allowed. What they don’t get is that morality can not be handled with the intellect; rather you must get outside of it. The secret to morality is amorality. Very few grasp this, least of all the enforcement types.

We fear radicalization. What we should fear is globalization.

Big cities are wrong. City living is wrong, and harmful to health. Our globalized, urbanized, anonymized condition gives rise to a warped vision. Or maybe it’s the warped vision that gives rise to urbanization. Whatever, we’ve come to believe the most respected, valuable vocations take you away from community and home. Joining the global network in science, business, politics, and the arts is considered the highest dharmic path and benchmark of success. It’s also how radicals are born. They are individuals who have lost all touch with their community, if indeed they ever had one. And we created this. We create radicals with our globalized planning, policies and worldview.

What technology is necessary for a self-sufficient community? Tools? Medicines? Computers?

Thinking about self-sufficiency, there are certain areas that must be addressed. Clearly no community should have to rely on remote sources for food and water. Clearly people must be able to construct their own dwellings from locally sourced materials. But what about tools? What about medicines? What about transportation, communication, energy? Can we determine how best to maximize self-sufficieny, while minimizing reliance on high tech, heavy industry, global commerce, mining, etc.? Moreover, can we identify a technology plateau that can be maintained into future generations, that does not degrade the environment or deplete non-renewable resources and that allows us to live close to the earth? It’s a complex question, but there are steps people can take to move in this direction. For example, train local technicians to carry out maintenance on items that we can’t manufacture ourselves.

What is a leader? What is a loser? Contrasting cops and school teachers.

Letís stop glorifying punishment and the people who dish it out. Rather, elevate those who educate. Donít be a punisher -- be a leader, be an educator. When nurses, teachers and farm workers are paid the same as judges, cops and lawyers, we will see an enlightened age.

Music, literature, architecture? What is culture? And why do we care about it?

There is code, and there is culture. Code is contrived. Culture is spontaneous. Code is intellectual. Culture is intuitive. Culture captures the infinite. It cannot be coerced or imposed from afar; dictated or codified in law. So where does culture have its source? It’s within. Analyzing from a distance gives an incomplete picture. Culture can be understood only when you look within. Within - it’s a different perspective. The subjective experience - the unmanifest, inner side of life - and its infinite quality becomes infused in your thoughts and behavior. This is the source of culture: not in laws or customs or works of art. But inside each of us. The more people who have this experience, the more authentic is the culture.

Economy: global, money-based, profit oriented vs. local, service-based, community oriented. Ocean-going cargo ships vs. flower venders at the local market.

The importance of personal relationships and ordinary human interaction in a community cannot be over estimated. Without it there is no civilization. The economy becomes warped into a perverse kind of anti-economy. We live in a strange era, where people live isolated lives, focused on material gain, striving to succeed on their own, with little concern for the guy next door. The most critical elements for survival - food, clothing, medicine, building materials, energy - come from far-off regions, produced by people we don’t know and will never see, having zero interest in our lives or livelihood. And we without a jot of interest in theirs. Money alone determines economic activity. It’s so unnatural that you wonder how mankind could have evolved to such a state.

Two kinds of development: super Walmart construction vs. newly planted oaks.

Development is usually interpreted in economic terms - infrastructure and “modernization” … faster trains, bigger ships, more bridges and highways, connection to global commerce, etc. In rural America it means strip malls, convenience stores and fast-food; asphalt, power-lines and cell towers. Trees give way to warehouses and parking lots. Prairie gives way to mono-culture. Family farms give way to CAFOs. Banks and big corporations come in to get a piece of the action. It’s all about making money. There’s no spiritual content in the process, no community. Planting trees, on the other hand, promotes the health, permanency and longevity of the community, but with very little profit value. It’s long-term vs. short-term planning.

The elements missing in modern government: trust, character, holiness, intimacy ...

The shortcomings in government reflect the shortcomings in society, which in turn reflect the shortcomings in each of us, individually. We won’t fix government or even get a handle on it until we get a handle on ourselves. This is not an intellectual exercise. Nor is it something you can watch, study or observe. These values are located *within*. You handle them by going within. There’s an internal world that we are ignoring. We’ve been ignoring it for a long time - 2000 years or more. That’s why lawyers and their ilk are running our lives. It’s why coercive administration is not questioned. Why natural law has been trampled. Why politics in this age is defined by conflict .

© 2019 Alexander Gabis