"What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated? ... Primarily, it is a question less for man than for God -- less for human intellect than for the laws of nature to solve. It assumes that nature has erred; that the law of liberty is a mistake; that freedom, though a natural want of the human soul, can only be enjoyed at the expense of human welfare, and that men are better off in slavery than they would or could be in freedom; that slavery is the natural order of human relations, and that liberty is an experiment. What shall be done with them? Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone. They suffer by every interference, and succeed best by being let alone." ~ Frederick Douglass
The People's Business
How many times have we heard someone say There ought to be a Law! about something they dislike? I cringe every time I hear it. Haven't we more than enough laws already? I don't have any exact figures as to the number of laws presently in existence, but one theological wit put it best when he said, "There are a million laws that have been created to say what the Ten Commandments put most succinctly of all."
Even if one is inclined to ignore the first three Commandments, the last seven exemplify the heart of liberty--do no harm to your neighbor.
Respect your parents. Do not murder. Do not cheat on your spouse. Do not steal. Do not lie or bear false witness. Do not chase your neighbor's wife. Do not covet your neighbors goods or property.
That seems like a pretty fair recipe for getting along and being free. If one chooses to source God and plug in the first three Commandments, fine.
The other seven ensure that those who choose not to do so, are still to be done no harm. I thought it was always interesting that Jesus, when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," did not specify who "neighbor" was. The Greek word used in the Gospel does, though . . .
The one who is close.
Cuts to the quick, and makes every human relationship incumbent upon individual responsibility, and a total respect for the life, liberty and property of every neighbor, in love and marriage to friends to contractual business deals and anything beyond.
Even if one not inclined to credit Divinity with the genius of simplicity in the Commandments, it must be admitted that the concept of do no harm has existed from antiquity. One can only conclude the desire for liberty was likewise present and alive in antiquity.
I am in no way advocating a theocracy, because those have always deteriorated into oligarchies and dictatorships even faster than attempts at democracy. Every time a church or faith has taken up the reins of "government" it has made shambles of things. Lord Acton's famous quip about power holds true in every instance.
How far we have progressed as we continue to give ever more power away while being told how free we are. By the day or week, under the coy guise of "doing the people's business," state and federal legislators perpetually spend their time enacting new laws, all of which in one way or another, restrict liberty, and extract capital from the people. Somehow, after awhile, one begins to gain the impression that legislatures are more about "giving the people the business." There is not one facet of life that is not regulated by law, and thus, restricting freedom within arbitrary boundaries that have no true bearing to "do no harm" but instead, serve to increase the power of government over the liberties of the people.
So the next time someone says, "There ought to be a law . . .", tell them, "No thanks. I know of 10 that work just fine."
The People's Business? Do no harm.