"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Take Out the Cam Shaft
System (n): 1) A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole. (American Heritage Dictionary)
For guys, picture an engine. All of the parts need to be there and reasonably functional for the engine to work. Pull out the cam shaft and, even though all of the other parts are perfectly fine, the thing will not run no matter what you do.
For girls, picture a cake recipe. Without the eggs the thing just ain't gonna turn out cake-like, right? You can't add more flour to make up for them, nor more sugar. Gotta have the eggs.
Government is a system. It consists of a whole lot of parts which all must be present and functional for it to work.
It is not an entity. It is a process. Baking a cake is a process. At the end you have a cake. It is static. Government is not a static thing. It is a process, just like life. It takes in energy, it creates rules; it processes people according to the rules. You can't point to it and say "CAKE!" No, it is a process, like wind. If life stopped there would be no reason for government because there would be no change for government to govern. It is a system.
Just like the process of making a cake, the system of government must have all of the necessary parts to work. If you remove the taxpayer, it won't work. If you remove the legislators it won't work. If you have all kinds of taxpayers and legislators, but you take out the cops to enforce the rules it is just like the engine with no camshaft. It won't fly. Same with the bureaucrats. And the computers that keep the records. And the buildings that hold the computers and bureaucrats.
So let us suppose that a system is destructive, say the government in a small dictatorship in Africa run by a brutal man. Or maybe Cambodia during the reign of Pol Pot, or the Soviet Union under Lenin. Or . . .
Would it be productive to the health of the community in one of these places to make sure that the plumbing worked in the offices of the registrars of the citizenry? What if the toilets stopped working? Would that perhaps be like pulling the eggs from the cake recipe or the camshaft from the engine? What if the paperwork, required for the military to be able to enforce the dictator's rules on the hapless citizens, all of a sudden stopped getting processed because there was raw sewage running under the computer consoles?
As a plumber, would it be a proud moment in your career to bring those pipes back up to snuff so that those paper-pushers could get back to the job of telling the military thugs who they should torture and kill that day?
Maybe you don't understand that because you fixed the pipes that afternoon in that office building, a hundred people were killed in an attack on a "suspected something-or-other" - but that does not mean that those people would not still be alive if you had not fixed those pipes.
Each bolt, each egg in the recipe, is required for the system to work. If the system is evil, and you are replacing a worn bolt, you are making sure that those people will get killed.
A crazy man spouting racial epithets is nothing more than annoying unless there is an entire system of people supporting him. Six million Jews died, not because of a crazy man spouting nonsense, but because all of those people willingly provided all of the parts required to make the killing machine function in a smooth and efficient manner.
The trains ran on time.
The guy who made sure that the train schedules were kept correctly was just as important a part of that killing machine as the lunatic with the funny mustache.
Life is uncertain. We are all ignorant. Stuff happens.
But when you are intelligent and thoughtful and you knowingly act to support a system which is destructive, then you are as guilty as any other person in that system.
The bomb that destroys an entire village in Iraq is only capable of causing that devastation because someone filled out the right form and filed it correctly in a plant in some community somewhere.
Each of us is a part of the system of life. There is no "THEM" that we can blame it on. Each of us is a grain of sand in the concrete of the social structure.
Supporting a structure that is destructive is morally wrong. It is as wrong to build the bomb as to drop it. It is as wrong to make sure that the school buildings which support the subjugation and brainwashing of innocent children are kept in good working order as it is to force them into those buildings against their wills and the wills of their parents.
Ignorance may be a reasonable excuse, but it does not change the fact that our choices have consequences.
The man who kept the train schedules accurate made sure that all of those Jews would die with wonderful precision. He may not have known. But if he DID know, and continued to keep those forms up to date, he was no less morally contemptible than those who opened the gas canisters.
There is no perfect world. We all can only do what we can do. But if we are going to claim that morality is a valid concept, then we are hypocritical if we choose to ignore the consequences of our actions when it suits us to do so.
It is important to understand that government is a system, and each person who supports that system is as responsible for the results as any other. The camshaft is no more important than the piston or the fuel. Each and every part is equal in importance for the system to function and perform its task.
There is an old story about how the empire was lost for want of a nail. EACH ONE of us may hold that nail!
Rosa Parks withheld the nail that was required to hold the heel on the boot that was crushing the face of the black population. One nail. One woman.