There’s a lot of talk about government these days. What does responsible government involve? Don’t worry, this is not a political post. (Gotcha, though!)
In a way, we all have informal opportunities to govern every day, perhaps every hour.
Take for example, a parent assuming the responsibility of training a child who has not learned to self govern. The parent, if he or she is healthy and caring, will help establish boundaries so that the child can learn what is healthy and wholesome. This assumes a certain maturity and self-governance on the adult’s part, of course.
But isn’t it true that every time that we become aware of someone within our sphere of influence who is living outside of what we consider healthy or decent behavior, we become a kind of governor? Social media is rampant with posts that are scolding, shaming or one-upping each other. Its easy to blur the audience and forget that we are actually talking to real people and attempting to influence them to change their thinking and behavior. Is that not governing?
Circumstances arise in daily life where we may feel we know better than someone else what they should do. (Often we don’t, but sometimes we really do.) Drivers that cut in front of us, co-workers who badmouth others, clients who cheat, bosses who lie about their actions, family members who behave selfishly – these and more grievous offenses set off alarm bells in our souls; ‘laws’ that we hold sacred are being broken.
In response, we often default to our own personality. Will we react in judgement or fear? Will we respond in compassion? Will we keep our mouth shut? Will we fester in silence? Will we choose to speak up, or to say a prayer for someone? Will we choose to sacrifice our own way? Will we protest on behalf of another person? Each situation has it’s unique problems, or in the words of Jesus, “Every day has enough trouble of its own”. Unlike government officials, we do not have specific protocol for all situations to dictate what each circumstance is asking of us. Often we fly by the seat of our pants. And there is certainly enough trouble in each day.
We live in what is known as a civilized world. Civilization is a word formed from the idea of civility (which means polite, reasonable and respectful behavior). It assumes the people within its structure have formed systems and structures of civil behavior, formal and informal. It is universally agreed that good government is one in which the one governing has the best interest of the governed in mind. Leadership is not a tool to get our own way. The knowledge of good and evil is a weighty responsibility. It is given to us not so we can lord it over others, but so that we can make a difference for good. That is true government.