This post is essentially a prolonged comment at my brother’s blog here. Please read the post and the comments prior to commenting here (unless you don’t feel like it).
In order to LEARN to fulfull our potential we must be subject to the consequences of our decisions. What the Inquisitor, and often large government programs do, is give the appearance of a solution, but do so by removing the consequences that often are the greatest teachers. That said, I feel that it is my obligation as a brother to every human being to relieve as much suffering as I can. It’s just that when government gets involved, it most often bungles the entire thing, removes the consequences that teach us, and disencourages those who would serve, give and love from doing so.
I agree with your last paragraph that we don’t have the freedom to choose the consequences for the decisions we make; however, this is not the force that I am talking about.
For millenia, the dominant world cultures have been convinced that it is large institutions that will solve the world’s problems, be they governments or authoritarian churches linked with governments. This comes from Plato in his writings of the teachings of Socrates (which I think Plato misunderstood). Institutions cannot solve the problems. Individual human beings working with individual human beings applying eternal principles is what solves the problems. What large institutions (like government do) is apply a solution that looks benevolent and good, but is really not a solution. This discourages people from looking for the real solutions. The only real solutions are the ideal ones. Otherwise we settle for band-aids on spurting arteries.
Idealism is the only thing that will really make changes. Realism is exemplified by the solutions to WWI that laid the groundwork for WWII (Gandhi had very different ideas about that solution). Realism is exemplified by the solutions for WWII that led to the Cold War (oppression of many in Eastern Europe by the USSR, oppression by many in the western hemisphere by the U.S. in efforts to fight the idealogical battles). I just don’t see any time in history where realism through government intervention ever solved a problem. The New Deal worsened the economic crisis of the Great Depression. The Great Society led to the “stag-flation” of the 70’s. These are well-meaning programs that didn’t take into account the following from Aristotle. He is talking about legislation to make all things in common as proposed by Plato: “Again, we ought to reckon, not only the evils from which the citizens will be saved (by any legislation), but also the advantages which they will lose.”
Often we see a piece of legislation and only see the potential solution that it can provide; we fail to consider the unseen, more long-lasting, more profound consequences.
Aristotle also states (regarding specifically changes to make all private property in common, but applicable to much of what government wants to do today): “Such legislation may have a specious appearance of benevolence; men readily listen to it, and are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody’s friend (because of the legislation), especially when someone is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries of rich men, (insert your favorite evil here). These evils, however, are due to a very different cause (not the existance of private property, the presence of illegal immigrants, etc.)–the wickedness of human nature.”
Now, I disagree with Aristotle that human nature is wicked, I believe it is good, but weak. However, I agree that the causes of most of the problems we face are not solveable with legistlation or Supreme Court rulings. I believe that the solution is through education, strengthening families, freeing up enterprise, opening borders, treating fairly with other countries, loving our neighbor, and encouraging freedom over the security that comes with a powerful centralized government that promises bread in exchange for our freedom in an attempt to provide for an individual from cradle to grave without regard for those natural consequences and pains that come from life and mortality.