Humpty Dumpty, Plato & America…?

LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

October 11, 2014 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

We are not sure of the identity of Humpty Dumpty.  Perhaps the ditty originally referred to Charles I of England (1600-1649) who was executed by the Puritans.  Perhaps it was Richard III (1452 – 1485).  One thing is sure.  When he fell nobody could put him back together.  There is an important lesson in political philosophy here.  The destruction of a political order is disastrous if there is no viable government to replace it.  Chaos is worse than injustice.

Plato was the first Western Philosopher to expound this truth formally in his “REPUBLIC.”  Plato was not in favor of democracy.  He was convinced that if government was put into the hands of the people it would disintegrate into anarchy.  If everyone has his or her way there is no social order.  Where there is no social order there is chaos.  Since chaos is intolerable it will inevitably turn into tyranny since someone will come along promising to set things right and will take absolute power in the process.

What Plato did not have was an underlying biblical world view to sustain the democracy.  The glue that held American democracy together was the conviction that the Creator had endowed the people with unalienable rights.  These were amplified in the Bible which even a Deist like Jefferson accepted as the foundation of the republic.  The people did not create the moral law.  It was a given.  The laws of the state were obliged to reflect the moral order of the universe.

Without this sustaining underpinning the revolution would have looked exactly like the French Revolution exemplified.  The destruction of the French monarchy, corrupt as it was, led to anarchy and produced government by guillotine.

The early communists also understood this principle.  They knew that the demise of the Russian Czarist rule would create the vacuum necessary to build the totalitarian state they envisioned.

The Apostles of the early Church also understood this principle.  Like Jesus himself they knew the Kingdom of heaven was not of this world.  The good news they proclaimed was empowered to change people, not governments.  When the people were changed by the power of God, they would change the way they governed.

The very first action of God in the Torah is to bring order out of chaos.  In instructing the Corinthian church is worship practice the Apostle says “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace…All things should be done decently and in order.”

I share these thoughts this week because of events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri and in Hong Kong, China.  Anarchy will bring about repression, not freedom.  When Martin Luther King led his followers in protest against racism in the United States he did not create mayhem.  He left that to others whose immoral life style was threatened.  It was a costly way, but it was effective.

As America’s underpinning by a biblical world view slips away Plato’s warning becomes more relevant.  He was very intelligent.  He understood that chaos produces tyranny.  My first prayer is that Americans learn to understand God.  If that fails, one hopes they might at least be a smart as Plato.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net).  END-whs

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