Blog 2103 – 06.28.2021
Is Your Safe Word “Uncle” “Enough” or Something Else?
When I was a boy wrestling or scrapping with other lads it was common when bested to hear the other fellow remark, “Just say “Enough” or “Uncle” and I will let you up.” Those were the two acceptable safe words for children. There were rules and there was a certain etiquette to be observed in all things. People by and large do not care for rules. Oh, they like to pretend that they are all about Law and Order, but act as if the rules only apply to the other guy, the poor guy, the less educated, and the less connected guy. The rules ought to apply equally to all or they should apply to no one.
The great sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein postulated in one of his books about a future world where there were only two laws: No violence allowed, and No taking from others. He said if those two rules were enforced there would be no need for any others nor for lawyers nor judges to be forever interpreting the laws for us. I find it amazing that even the much lauded United States Constitution, a very short document really, has many books written about what it really means, as does the Bible and other so called holy books. When I was a young man studying for the Christian ministry I collected a large library of commentaries and different translations of the sixty-six books of the Christian Bible. I also had a book in my library that listed at that time over five thousand different Christian churches and denominations with a slightly different interpretation or take on the Bible. I recall that Jesus had a big problem with the lawyers of his day whose job it was to interpret the Law and the Prophets, the holy books of his day, but seemed more often as the saying goes, “To strain at a gnat while swallowing a camel.”
Politicians and lawmakers are mostly lawyers. There are so many lawyer jokes out there like: “What do you call five thousand lawyers at the bottom of the sea?” Answer: “A good start.” A little harsh perhaps, but as Jesus said of the lawyers of his day, “They bind huge burdens impossible to carry on others, but would not even touch them with their little finger.”
I have often remarked, having served several companies as Quality and HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) Manager, that anytime there is a problem instead of trying to find and remove the root cause of the problem it is easier to just write a rule and pretend that will take care of the problem. It seldom if ever does, but more often usually just creates more problems.
One of my all time favorite quotes is from Eric Sevareid, a long time CBS political reporter and correspondent, who said, “The chief cause of problems is solutions.”
How seldom are those the rules are meant to apply to even consulted or allowed to have any input in their writing. Hence so many poorly thought out rules with often disastrous consequences. Even those who say they are for smaller government are forever coming up with new laws to further burden the little guys while they mostly believe themselves to be above the law. To that I say I say, “Uncle” and “Enough.”
Your friend and fellow traveler,