The Compassionate Tyrant



“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

This blunt and apt description of the “compassionate” tyrant by the great philosopher C.S. Lewis is most fitting for the society in which we live.  We are, if anything, overrun with  “omnipotent moral busybodies” more specifically in our government.  Government is by its very essence the most vulnerable to the congregate of the totalitarian nanny.

As government fawns and mothers over its wayward children, the regulatory apron strings tighten ever closer as government addresses what it deems is in the best interest of its charges.  The lifeblood of freedom constricts.  Its functions are limited.

But still the overbearing matron holds on.  A few more apron strings.  Maybe something baked sweet and comfy, an entitlement if you will, keeps the “dearies” near.  The maternal government can never acknowledge that what her charges desperately need is to be free from her.

They must rise and fall on their own merit without someone hovering near to soften or prevent their fall.  They need the experience of failure not to be shielded from it.  Mistakes are a healthy part of growth and not something to be regulated against.

The ancient proverb that there is “nothing new under the sun” is something our modern society struggles to grasp.  The idea that perhaps we are not so modern, still entirely human, and bound to our repetitive nature is an affront to many.  But our Founding Fathers were not so outdated as many would like to portray them.

They studied the civilizations that had preceded them and realized the horrific tendencies of government.  They came to the conclusion that government, with its proven weakness for control, must be limited.  They drafted a document of, yes, negative liberties; a document intended to say “no” to government.  They decided that people should decide what they needed and did not need, not government.  They knew from studying history what we have ignored and are sadly learning now.  There is nothing more oppressive than a compassionate tyrant.

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