Somewhere along the line, George Washington said that government is force. Maybe I’ll make it official and document the whole quotation with the source, but for now entertain the possibility and just take it on faith, okay?
Here’s the deal: Force, whether actual physical violence or coercion, controls acts but has little tendency to actually change minds. Changing minds is how virtue is developed in a society. And changed minds is how you get lasting results.
The government of North Korea doesn’t care much about changing minds unless you count propaganda and shear terror. The North Korean people don’t expect to be convinced with reason or logic, either. They readily accept that the death of four generations of a family is appropriate for killing a cow before it is so old and tough that you can’t eat it anyway. Legal equals moral in tyrannical societies.
But we (Americans) live in a free country. We have a reasonable expectation that we will get to use a little peaceful convincing to enact good ideas before force will be used. I don’t think it takes a Phd in philosophy to understand that it is better for society for people to willingly choose to do the right thing when and where that is possible. And when people make decisions freely, they tend to stick to the decision when times get tough and there’s no one with a bayonet pointed in their back. Moral equals moral in free societies, and legal has a chance to pass the moral test first, hopefully.
A society of people that willingly make moral decisions is a virtuous society. A society that does the right thing against their will is not virtuous. It is afraid. Let’s pursue virtue where and when possible. Let’s use force only when we have to.
Anyway I really just wanted to see of I could get an image to show up in the Facebook and Twitter shares that WordPress creates when I share post links. So here goes. Wish me luck, and comment if you want to. Share if you want to. I’ll try to post a more coherent thought later. Thanks for reading.