No, you did not get your days mixed up. This is not Freaky Friday and we are not discussing penis size. This Serious Sunday, I am following up on the history lesson from Thoughtful Thursday. I know many of you maybe saying…
Yes, but the world has changed since 1787. Things are different now. Don’t we need bigger government?
Have you used Wikipedia lately? The site is the ultimate in self-governance. The entries are written by voluntary contributions from readers/users/the community. Yet the accuracy as well as the quality and quantity of its information is mind boggling. It is much more thorough, balanced and in-depth than any encyclopedia I ever used growing up. And no need for annual updates. In fact, they can update posts, such as when famous singers or actors die or add world events, within hours. All without layers and layers of fact checkers. It self-polices.
If it works for Wiki…and much of the rest of the World Wide Web…why can it not still work for government too?
Still not convince? Then let’s look at just one way that big government is restricting personal choice/liberty…taking over the job that local community/neighbors use to provide…and doing a much shittier job of it.
I have told you before that I was raised primarily by my Nanny, my great-grandmother. We lived in what had once been a ‘mill village.’ In the South, when a company built a textile factory, it also erected dozens, hundreds of small wood frame homes around it. They then ‘sold’ those houses to their workers by deducting a huge chunk of their salary from their paycheck. They also had a company store, company doctor…but that is another post.
Of course, by the time that I came along in the late 60s, my Nanny and most of the others that lived there had long since retired from the mill. Their homes were paid off. It was an unusual but good childhood growing up in a place with very few children, where my best friends were women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s. I learned to can, string beans and crochet before I could read. This is the story of how I learned to crochet in fact…
Right next door to Nanny lived Mama and Papa Tatley. Their last name was actually Bradley, but sometimes little girls don’t say things just right and mispronunciations can stick. They were around Nanny’s age, mid-sixties, and childless. Which meant as they aged there was no one there to look after them.
Mama Tatley, in particular, had what they called ‘hardening of the arteries.’ Today, we would probably label it Alzheimer’s. Papa Tatley worked as a security in the evenings to supplement their social security. They also had the biggest garden in the neighborhood and always shared what they had. And Mama Tatley was a hoarder. The whole back bedroom and porch was piled high with old newspapers and craft supplies. I had never seen anything like it before.
Anyway, it got to a point where Papa Tatley was afraid to leave her alone in the evenings while he worked. What if she turned the burner on to make a cup of tea (she was the only person I knew until I moved to England who drank warm tea with milk) and forgot to turn it off? What if she fell and broke a hip? What if… There were too many to count.
It was my sixth birthday. My biggest party…although only family. My one-day step-father had given me a Snow White watch. And after work, Papa Tatley came over with a cheap plastic boat…like I get in the 99 cent store now. But I liked it and thanked him…they had thought of me and that was what mattered after all.
He spoke in hushed tones to Nanny and my mother. Then he came over and sat down next to me, “Terri Lynn, I have a favor to ask. You know how Mama Tatley is…” He offered me my first job…at six years old. After dinner, I was to go and just sit with Mama Tatley. Watch the news, talk to her, just be there. If anything happened, I was to run next door and get Nanny. And I earned twenty-five whole cents a night for a couple of hours. A whole quarter!
Now I can hear your judgmental minds turning already. How dare he? I was just a child. That was too much responsibility. Child labor laws. Minimum wage. Child slavery even.
But truth was…I would have gladly done it for free. But he insisted on paying…those two had such pride. Mama Tatley taught my little fingers to crochet that summer before I could even write my letters. And I felt so proud of myself. Like I was doing something important…and I was too.
So screw your modern laws…this was community taking care of its own. I don’t know who cried harder a few months later when Papa Tatley had to finally break down and put her in a nursing home. I remember my mother taking me to visit her there once…but she just was not the same. Not being in her home, around her things, had changed her…she was so quiet and withdrawn. I know now she was depressed. It made me sad…like I wished I could have done more.
But soon I had another charge. When Aunt Mildred’s son, who I was named for, was killed in a car accident, suddenly I was allowed to walk around the corner to visit with her. Depression, grief, agoraphobia…I was the medicine that our little community prescribed. And you know what…it worked just as well as any that modern medicine can or does…without side effects too.
But today…none of that would be allowed. Government would send in social workers. Papa Tatley would have been FORCED to put her in the home sooner. It was hard enough on his poor heart coming to that decision on his own, I can only imagine what it would have been like if some BIG government made him. He would have probably been arrested and/or fined for minimum wage, child labor, and goddess only knows what else. Nanny and my mother would get into trouble too…child endangerment or some such shit.
Maybe the solution was not ideal, but you know what…it got the job done. It made me feel happy and useful. Mama Tatley was happier in her home. Papa Tatley could work and make a tiny bit of money. And the community…our neighbors…they all kept a close watchful eye out over us all.
We don’t need BIG government looking over our shoulders, in our homes, families and communities…telling us what to do, how to do it. Because the truth is that the liberties we lose to gain just a few dollars/pounds…a tiny bit of ‘help’…and trust me most of the time it ain’t even that…well, the strings bind us. We become nothing more than puppets on a string. And ask Pinocchio…it is so much better being a real boy…
That, folks, is how it should be. The Transcendentalist way. Small government (if any)…just people…basically good people…looking out for one another. And if you look closely, it is a model that still works in other places around the world…well, until we ‘civilized’ peoples feel the need or the greed to go and impose our morality, our laws on indigenous cultures that have been functioning for eons.