Good Government Starts in Our Marriages, Minds, and Communities
If you are concerned about today’s government, start changing it right where you are
Here is a question to pose to friends and associates, but you would probably want to put the question in a gentler manner if you are doing it face-to-face, in order to allow them to save face.
We put it bluntly: Name one or two books that you have read recently. Additional criteria: It must be a book of 150 or more pages. You must have read it completely and not merely skimmed it.
Our educated guess is that the younger the respondent, the more likely that you will get a blank stare as they struggle to remember any actual book they’ve read recently. Allow them to go back as far as it takes. A year? Two years ago? …before they can think of any that meet the criteria. We’ll even allow listening to audio books to qualify, even fiction.
We ourselves find that it can be a good way to make use of the time spent on long journeys. A few of my friends are like me in that regard. One sister (in Christ) recently remarked that she is always reading (or listening to) four or five books simultaneously.
We would venture to say, however, that she is an exception. The sad truth is that the vast majority of people simply do not read (books) anymore. Oh, sure, they read posts on social media and get their “news” feeds from the same, but reading countless two or three-sentence posts is a sure indicator of just another “low information voter.”
This poses an existential danger to the great republic we once enjoyed. It is almost past the point in time to do something about it. Action needed now! But what?
Here are some common-sense suggestions excerpted from this thoughtful piece by Annie Holmquist. It appeared in my weekly, hard-copy edition of The Epoch Times, dated Jan. 4-10, 2023.
(It is probably behind a paywall in the online edition of The Epoch Times, and ditto at Ms. Holmquist’s “Annie’s Attic” on Substack.)
All *emphasis* and remarks in [brackets] are mine. After the excerpts, we are pleased to present to you what some of your fellow followers of SKM and members of the SKM-MN are doing.
“If people do not have the government they want,” author Wendell Berry wrote in his book, “The Art of the Commonplace,” “then they will have a government that they must either change or endure.”
Unfortunately, in our present situation, it seems that Americans have decided that it’s far easier to endure our problematic government than to undergo the work of changing it. [Why?]
[M]any of us are far too comfortable with life as we know it. To confront and attempt to change our problematic government would mean rocking the boat and perhaps even putting ourselves in the crosshairs of politicians, social and mainstream media, and now even institutions such as the FBI.
So we become armchair umpires, critiquing the government from the comfort of our homes but never sticking our necks out and risking our names getting in the public eye.
Another reason is that we’re unwilling to look in the mirror and confront our own personal problems. Moral and character flaws are at the root [this speaks of the lack of the application of God’s laws] of many of our national problems, Berry wrote, and the one who’s “willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more … than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways.”
Berry wrote that fixing a bad government doesn’t just come through political protests and lobbying of government leaders; it comes when we as individuals take the bull by the horns and rebuild locally, doing one small thing at a time to restore lost foundations:
“We are going to have to rebuild the substance and the integrity of private life in this country. We are going to have to gather up the fragments of knowledge and responsibility that we have parceled out to the bureaus and the corporations and the specialists, and we are going to have to put those fragments back together again in our own minds and in our families and households and neighborhoods.
We need better government, no doubt about it. But we also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities. We need persons and households that do not have to wait upon organizations, but can make necessary changes in themselves, on their own.”
So how do we, the little folks, foster better minds, friendships, marriages, and communities that bring about the changes we need?
Those brave parents who have stood up in school board meetings across the country in the past few years and spoken out against the poor treatment and propaganda that passes for education these days are some who are advocating for better minds.
Parents who take their children out of the public school system entirely are doing the same, raising the next generation to think differently and to strive after challenging material instead of simply learning to become a cog in the system.
Even families who simply have dinner with one another regularly and engage in good conversations will increase the understanding and knowledge of their children.
But better minds don’t just come by fighting for a more well-rounded and high-quality education for our children. We, as adults, also need to strive for better minds ourselves.
Setting aside time to read books—especially older ones—instead of more online headlines and social media feeds, is the first step. Interacting with a book’s text by writing questions in the margins, underlining important points, [for those of you in Carthagena, Ohio, this is part of the process of critical thinking] and then talking about what you read with others and applying those insights to our world today is another step.
Committed, stable families are the cornerstone of a thriving society. But these only come about when we first value marriage and reject the trendy hook-up and divorce culture. This marriage foundation is built upon when spouses make little, daily, and sometimes even monotonous sacrifices for the other. These include praying together, expressing daily gratitude for one another, spending time with each other, and eliminating relationship killers, such as pornography.
Finally, we can foster better friendships and communities by finding a good local church, attending faithfully, and supporting and encouraging the other congregants around us. We can give a friendly wave and smile to our neighbors, listen to their troubles, or lend a helping hand with snow shoveling or other chores that come with home maintenance. Even calling on them for help in our own need can be a way to build better communities, for as Berry wrote, there’s a “need to need one another.”
Will building better minds, marriages, and communities really improve our government and make it less of a thorn in the flesh of the American public? Nothing is a guarantee, of course, but it’s quite possible; when these foundational aspects of a good society are in place, everything else tends to fall in line.
So if we’re unhappy with the way the government is working right now, why not get started cleaning it up right now … by working to better the few basic things in our own power?
A few days after reading Ms. Holmquist’s column, we received this encouraging letter from dear friends west of the Mississippi, whose names and other identifying nouns we have changed or omitted to protect their identities. We have also edited it slightly.
Your monthly Feed My Sheep monographs, lectures on CDs, and Mighty Network blogs have nudged me on to put my hat in the ring for School Board of the (name withheld) district. My husband, Roger, has put his name in / filed for City Councilman of (name of city omitted). So, we are becoming active in the political arena. Also, we are members of the (name omitted) County Republican Committee.
We in reality are Conservatives. We are of the mindset that Father God wants us to occupy while we wait for His return. We must do our part to further the Kingdom of God.
Besides, I don’t like the way our education system is operating, to have books in our local library and school libraries, that teach or present ideas of CRT [Critical Race Theory] and transexual material. Do they not realize, there are people serving prison time for such as these material display! The reason for teaching this material can only be to corrupt the morals of minors.
CRT is nothing but pure evil and hate. Besides these two issues—I really get frosted that our history or history in itself is not being taught. Children are not learning about the founding of our country or the founding fathers, the Constitution, civics—what are they learning?
Graduates from high school can’t count out change at a cash register. My grandson, (name omitted) can’t sign his own name; his mother now is giving him penmanship lessons on the alphabet.
It is with a sincere heart I wish to give something back to my community. Pray for us when you think of us, please! /Signed/ Rita and Roger
Oh, my brother and sister, I do; and I am so grateful for your stepping up! And I pray further that the Father multiply your numbers by ten, and then that by one hundred, and that by ten thousand! Amen!