Governments are Humanity’s Children
Humanity is the oldest institution. There weren’t any institutions before humans invented them. It is easy for us to forget this, because as individuals we don’t really live very long. Each of us, though, is a representative and inheritor of our ancestors. In a way, it makes us all part of a collective human continuum. It makes each and every human part of the old guard.
Yet we often defer to much younger institutions. We let the commands of modern circumstances lead us away from our collective wisdom. We give seniority to things that are new because we can’t remember how old we really are.
You can see this in humanity’s relationship with government. Throughout history we have assumed that governments are in charge of humans. Governments make the rules and they collect the taxes. Governments field armies and draw borders. But there would be no government without humans. The truth is, humans are in charge of governments. At least, some of us are.
All governments are children compared to the collective experience of humanity. This applies to the very oldest systems. The current government of the United States of America is one of the longest-running systems on the Earth. At a paltry 240 years, the U.S government is an infant compared to humanity, with its ten thousand years of experience.
Governments are strong and powerful, indeed. But like any infant, they don’t know their own strength. They don’t know anything!
All governments are young, but humanity is old. It is up to us to take care of and lead our charge. Even when it seems like our charge is in charge of us. Sometimes a screaming toddler can get a parent to do something it would rather not. Sometimes a clever kid can convince an old person to do something wrong. Sometimes a government facing an identity crisis can lead the population to a precarious position. But this only happens when the people in charge aren’t paying attention, or completely give up on their responsibilities. It only happens when grown-ups act like babies.
Humans can’t afford to act like babies. We have too many baby systems to take care of. Maybe one day our governments will grow up, and humanity can spend its golden days in a utopian rest home. This is hard to say, though. As any parent knows, you can never be sure if you’ve raised a monster or a champion until the child has finished growing up. Even then, it can be difficult to tell the difference.
Until governments grow up a bit, it is up to all of us to be vigilant, and keep humanity’s children from going astray.