He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding. Proverbs 12:11
It is never a good sign when on a Monday morning I feel that internal urge to just settle for what we deserve in public policy. Life was less complicated 18 years ago when I was going through the motions of life with no particular regard one way or the other for government. The rate of taxation, environmental policy, foreign policy, health care, even pro-life issues were a mere blip on my radar screen as I went through the daily routine of the care and feeding of my family. I couldn’t allow anything like the evening news to interfere with my schedule.
It took a major breech of parental rights for me to comprehend the full power and reach of the government. I was not amused to find that while my peers and I had been engrossed in our day to day living, our government had taken on roles and responsibilities it was never designed to encompass. And so, I had my first understanding that the phrase, ‘Somebody ought to do something’ meant get to work.
This morning, listening to the appropriations committee, reading some of the bills that have been filed, going over the news clips of the state and nation, and reviewing the emails in my inbox asking for action on first one item and then another, I fail to see where we have made any significant progress in the past 18 years.
Our government is like a garden. The ground was carefully tilled and prepared with our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. The appropriate roles of the various branches of government were planted, laid out like the neat rows of plants in a spring garden. But, as our nation began to grow and the government expanded to accommodate the times, weeds began to grow up beside the legitimate plants. The occasional misappropriation of funds for private gain, over regulation of business to benefit a specific special interest, or intrusion into personal rights and responsibilities didn’t seem like such a big deal in the whole scheme of things.
The little roots of those weeds took hold as the cultivation of our garden was ignored. Now, after all the years of neglect, it is like walking into a vegetable garden after a summer rain. The deer ate all the green bean vines. The cucumber plants have exceeded their boundaries and are trying to overtake the pepper plants. The tops of the tomato bushes have been beaten down and need to be staked to keep the fruit from rotting on the ground. Through it all the weeds are so thick that pulling them out puts the roots of the legitimate plants at risk. (And, did I mention the temperature and humidity are both in the 90”s?) Restoration of the garden is hard work.
The eternal optimist in me leads me to plant a garden every spring, knowing the frustrations i will face in the summer. The occasional fresh tomato, squash or cucumber makes the effort worth while, even when the price of the produce in the grocery store is less than the cost of the garden. But, alas, there comes that point where I throw up my hands and concede that the weeds and the deer have won at the end of each season.
Looking at the “government garden” this morning makes me shake my head and question the effort to fight back the weeds. But, alas, the alternative is not an option.
Lord, help us. Amen.