Implications of the Amoral Nature of Governments

Polling box - implications of amoral governments

After last week’s post discussing the amoral nature of governments, several people commented and were wondering what practical ramifications the belief in amoral governments has. I believe that pretty much all of the implications of this concept can be summed up into one sentence: The amoral nature of governments places responsibility solely upon individuals.

Now, of course, you may be wondering why that matters. There are essentially three different reasons why this is significant. First, the bad guys are held accountable for their actions. Second, it means that government officials should act as if they were the only government official. Finally, it places certain obligations on the voters.

Let’s begin by examining the first reason, that the bad guys are held accountable for their actions. When we think of government as a collective entity we often can make the mistake of overlooking various flaws that the individuals within that entity may have. We do this with entities all of the time. We see that a group of teenagers decides to play Frisbee at a party instead of beer pong, and we think that it is so great that they made the right choice, but we forget that  49% of the teenagers voted for beer pong.

This same concept applies to government. When we view a government as only an entity we tend to overlook all of the morally mislead individuals within it, so long as they are not the ones controlling the government. It isn’t too rare for us to ignore a threat to the principles upon which our government was founded as long as that threat is not large enough to actually overturn those principles.

Secondly, I think that the amoral nature of government means that government officials must act as if they are the only government official. I know that when I am a part of a group I am often tempted to not stand out. I try to just go with the flow, but sometimes that is not the best thing to do. When we are in a group, we are still able to control our contributions to the group. As one member of a group, I have as much say in the group action as everyone else, yet I ought to act as if I were the group. If the group is deciding between something that you believe is wrong and something you believe is right, you shouldn’t just stand by and let the group make the decision for you. You should act exactly as you would if you were on your own.

When congress is discussing balancing the budget and senator X is timidly sitting in the corner as the big guys talk about all of the disadvantages of cutting spending, senator X should not feel afraid. He has just as much a right to have a voice as any of the other senators. And if he understands that benefits of balancing the budget outweigh the costs, he should not feel shy about expressing that. This is all to say that the amoral nature of government requires nonconformity.

Thirdly, as voters, we have certain obligations. How many of you actually look up your candidate’s voting record? How many of you even vote? (Also, due to the fact that a large portion of our readership is rather young, how many of you are even old enough to vote? Please note that I am being sarcastic with this question, and it is okay to laugh.)

As voters, we are obligated to act as if it was solely up to us to choose our representatives. If you knew that your vote was the deciding factor, wouldn’t you want to know that your candidate was the right one? Wouldn’t you want to make sure that the officials you choose are virtuous and morally upright? I know that I would.

This final ramification is that we should actually research into our candidates, we should pray about them, and we should do what we can to see that the right man is elected. This last ramification requires non-mediocrity on the part of the voters. This last ramification tells us that we should become politically active.

Our use of words reflects our mindset, though it can also create it. When we clump a bunch of people into a group, we can be blinded to the failure of some of the individuals within that group to act correctly. Although the argument that governments are amoral by nature may have few practical implications, after all, it is a semantics argument, it does have implications for our obligations, and it is excellent for highlighting the importance of the individual.

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