Perspectives: Using our influence where it counts

OPINION – Is politics really as important as it’s being made out to be?

A healthy society has many more institutions than government to solve problems. These include family, clergy, business, community, academia and media.

None of these institutions use force to accomplish their work. Only government claims that prerogative.

Why do we act as though government is the only institution that matters?

When the seven institutions listed above are working cooperatively, on an equal basis, a society tends to flourish. When one or more institutions begin to dominate the others, they tend to become abusive.

Few of us can claim to have real standing in our current political arena.

It has become a system that is structured in such a way as to favor those who hold power. Unless we are a part of that power structure or have access to it through lobbyists or other special interests, we have very little influence on public policy.

This is why we are seeing more and more forced subservience to laws and policies that have been purchased, and sometimes written, by corporate interests.

Open political bribery has become a permanent and “legal” part of our current system.

The good news is that all of us have standing within many of the other institutions I’ve listed.

Let’s start with family. Helping our spouses, our children and our extended family members become problem-solvers is a lot easier than seeking to change society in general.

Once we have learned and assimilated correct principles into our own lives, it’s not difficult to find ways to share them with those we love most. Humility and genuine love, combined with service, will open minds and hearts like nothing else can.

In business, there are numerous opportunities to exert positive influence in our communities. This can be seen whenever local businesses donate money or resources to charitable causes or give back to the communities they call home.

If you’re not aware of such efforts, it’s because often these donations are done quietly and without fanfare as true charity should be.

Clergy used to play a much larger role in solving problems at all levels. It was the efforts of clergy that created the willpower among the citizenry to abolish slavery at a time when government supported it.

When a community or a nation needed a voice of conscience, it was found in its churches. By using persuasion rather than force, people were still free to believe as they chose.

Caring for the truly needy and downtrodden was a duty once overseen by local churches whose congregations were given the opportunity to voluntarily provide charitable service.

In our time, forced charity has supplanted this practice and morphed into an insatiable form of plunder and redistribution.

Community serves as a problem-solver simply by allowing people to come together on common ideals that best address their needs. By avoiding central planning and the resulting top-down mandates that follow, people can still choose to be among those whose values reflect their own.

Academia, when separated from government control, provides a setting in which real education and exploration can occur. Unfortunately, when the state is providing all the money for its existence, schooling tends to laud the political system that funds it.

True educators can be found in more settings than simply the formal classroom. All educators can have potential influence to help their students find purpose and direction.

It’s worth remembering that the very first colleges and universities in the American colonies, were primarily created to train clergy. Their primary emphasis was on developing the character of their students rather than job training.

The chief goal of education for most of our nation’s history was to create great souls who could think clearly when confronting the challenges around them.

Finally, media once served the purpose of disseminating information to help keep the public informed.

One reason a free press was guaranteed protection against government interference in the First Amendment was the assumption that the people, when given enough information, could make informed choices in their governance.

Today, mass media is more focused upon entertaining than informing.

It helps to remember that letters to the editor were the preferred means of debating and sharing ideas in the time of our founders. We still have that option today.

As the press became more intertwined with government, it became a more difficult place to find standing. Becoming a well-known media figure, in print or in broadcast, used to require a combination of talent and the right connections.

The internet has changed this reality. Blogging and podcasts have made it possible to disseminate one’s ideas broadly without having to own a printing press or a network.

Why waste so much time and effort on politics, trying to exert a majority of our influence in a place where so few of us have standing? Try using it where it can actually be felt.

By putting our influence to work in these other societal institutions, we learn that our ability to change the world is not nearly as limited as we’ve been led to believe it is.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • BIG GUY April 18, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Bryan joins Bernie and Hilary in bashing “laws and policies that have been purchased, and sometimes written, by corporate interests.” Yet he lauds business as one of the seven societal institutions that can function for the good of all. Which is it, Bryan? And please be specific in naming these corporate-inspired “laws and policies” that are so detrimental to society. Easy to paint with a broad brush; getting specific is much harder: ask Bernie and Hilary.

    I am no fan of big government and join those who call for smaller, less intrusive government. I agree that government domination of these other institutions creates major distortions in our society. But this opinion article seems to imply that “corporate interests” are the primary source of government overreach. I would argue instead that progressive liberal ideology is the motivating source. The liberal elite know what is best for all of us and use government force to implement their latest dreams, leaving in their wake half-baked, expensive programs–always with unintended consequences–which are successful only at the margins and which never go away. Government today is loaded with examples.

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