We are in the midst of continuing arguments about the Constitutional limits of the enumerated powers of our intended-to-be limited government. The additional, perhaps more necessary, discussion needs to center around what governments are capable of doing, and what they absolutely cannot do. And the vital tasks that only we, you and I–and Father Damien–can accomplish.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Father Damien, AKA Saint Damien of Molokai, 1840-1889, was a Roman Catholic priest. He was recognized for his ministry to a colony of lepers, which he led from 1873 until his death in 1889. His mission was on the island of Molokai, where he had volunteered to meet the spiritual and other needs of those doomed to die of leprosy (Hansen’s disease), unloved and unmourned. Until his arrival. Father Damien cared for his patients and established leaders within the community, helping to build houses, schools, roads, hospitals, and churches. He dressed residents’ leprosy ulcers, built a reservoir, made coffins, dug graves, shared pipes, and ate poi by hand with them, providing medical, emotional and spiritual support.
After eleven years caring for the needs of those in the leper colony, Father Damien contracted the dread disease. He continued with his work despite the infection but finally succumbed in 1889. The way he announced to his afflicted flock that he had contracted the disease after 11 years of ministering to them was by beginning a sermon with, “We lepers.” He was declared a saint by the Catholic Church in 2008.
None of us are lepers, and very few of us are saints. But we are all in this together. Father Damien was a profound example of the power of one-on-one love, encouragement and support. Governments can supply stuff. Only we, you and I, can provide the examples, love, encouragement and support that is needed over and above the taxpayer supplied products and services. We don’t need to be Father Damiens–we simply need to be us. And to be focused on contributing. Flawed as we are, it is up to us.
Just as no government could have done the tiniest part of what Father Damien personally did for his flock of lepers, governments today still have the same severe limits on what they can accomplish, no matter how many laws and regulations are passed, and no matter how many trillions of dollars are spent. Yet governments, taxpayers and voters keep forgetting this vital lesson.
Here are two examples of things governments can and cannot do:
- Governments can provide services like education and law enforcement, but they cannot motivate students to excel, or even care. They are equally inept at inspiring people to respect the law and law enforcement, as opposed to simply fearing negative consequences.
- Governments can supply needed cash and in-kind services if and when needed, but they are helpless when it comes to providing the motivation for a person or group to lift themselves up so they no longer need taxpayer assistance. More recently, the government has been providing disincentives in the form of enhanced unemployment checks, and simply here-you-are checks.
Desire and motivation are everything. Governments cannot create, demand or inspire either. Most of us have heard the piece of wisdom pointing out that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach that man to fish, you will feed him for a lifetime. Well, not so fast. In order for someone to want to fish for themselves, buying and maintaining the tackle, sometimes going out in the cold and rain, and occasionally spending most of the day and coming back with nothing, they must be motivated. Without motivation, they will still want the free fish.
Now, let’s add one more level to using fishing as a metaphor for feeding humanity. Teach a man to teach others to fish, and how to motivate them, and you feed a nation.
Knowing how to fish is the how. Motivation is the why.
Before we close, I want to share my story of the “Great Crash” with you. No, not the stock market crash that led to the Depression. Or the Titanic crashing into the iceberg. It was me doing something stupid with a chair and a heavy bookcase that led to missing my first promised podcast in over three years. One moment I was on a chair checking out some failed lighting gear on top of the bookcase, the next moment I was on my back on the floor, under the bookcase with electronics, office equipment and many other items strewn about me. It took a couple days to kinda pull myself together. I was shaken but quite okay. The electronics were revivable. And I discovered as I was putting things back that I did not need a lot of what I had–including that dang bookcase.
Then I remembered what Father Damien did, and I feel silly about sharing this minor incident. And further thought reminds me that Revolution 2.0™ is my mission, my way of contributing, as loving and leading the lepers on Molokai was Father Damien’s. One on one, person to person. Truly the only way life gets better.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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