Mind Your Own Business

Can you imagine how much we’d all get done if we just focused on our own lives and stopped worrying about everyone else?

But…Michelle! Then the bad guys would take over!

How? If we all were taking care of ourselves and the people closest to us, wouldn’t that spread out over the world like a virus? Here I am, putting on my own oxygen mask first, making myself stable and secure, then I look to my partner, my children, my family, and friends. Each of their lives is made a little better and then they do the same. It spreads across the world.

Too simplistic you say. So, you do nothing. Instead, you sit in your house and gripe. You watch TV, scroll through social media, and see all the things so far away that you can’t do anything about. You demand that somebody do something about those horrors. You decide the best thing you can do is make a poignant post about how awful people are and that if we had only elected this other person or passed this law, all of this would be better.

Meanwhile, your partner is lonely, you don’t know where your children are, the house is a mess, your mom could use a phone call, and there’s nothing to eat in your fridge. You are tired, grumpy, and overwhelmed because you’re not taking care of yourself. All of these are things YOU could do something about right now, but you’re too busy following politicians and arguing with strangers about why they should be thinking a different way.

What can I do to make the world a better place right now? Take care of myself and then the space and people around me so that they can do the same.

Don’t just “start” with yourself, focus on yourself and stay right there. Do what you need to do to be healthy, happy, and strong right where you are. Then move outward and support others on their journey to be healthy, happy, and strong where they are.

I could sit here and quote Allan Bloom’s Interpretive Essay about “The Republic of Plato” all day long. I read the translation and then then the essay and felt that it was worth all the effort. In fact, I’d say read the essay first and then Plato. Maybe? Hard to say which would be better. Reading the Republic, I started to wonder what the point was. I’ve never been a big fan of Plato or Socratic Reasoning. I can’t seem to follow it. Call me lazy, but it takes too much effort. My son has shown me that some people find it natural and I’m just not one of those people. I’m glad I read it, again, and even more happy that the interpretive essay afterward was so enlightening.

This paragraph is what I want to share today, though.

If the infinite longing for justice on earth is merely a dream or a prayer, the shedding of blood in its name turns from idealism into criminality. The revolutions of Communism and Fascism are made in the name of perfect regimes which are to be their consequence. What matter if a few million die now, if one is sure that countless generations of mankind will enjoy the fruits of justice? Socrates thinks about the end which is ultimately aimed at by all reformers and revolutionaries but to which they do not pay sufficient attention. He shows what a regime would have to be in order to just and why such a regime is impossible. Regimes can be improved but not perfected; injustice will always remain. The proper spirit of reform, then, is moderation. Socrates constructs his utopia to point up the dangers of what we would call utopianism; as such it is the greatest critique of political idealism ever written. The Republic serves to moderate the extreme passion for political justice by showing the limits of what can be demanded and expected of the city; and, at the same time, it shows the direction in which the immoderate desires can be meaningfully channeled.”

This is exactly what libertarians have been trying to say. There is no heaven on earth. There is no perfect. The more you try to define it for others and use the force to create it, the more you move toward tyranny. Think about it. Religions in the past have done the same thing. There is no “greater good” reason in this life to use violence against others. Even God does not do it. So why do we think we can do it?

Any use of force is violence, in my opinion. Taxes, fines, jail, etc. = violence against others.