The one thing most expected of our government by “we the people” is that it will protect its people. The one thing officials in government — any government — want most from its people is power, absolute power. Keep in mind the axiom “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

We Americans still remember vividly Sept. 11, 2001, as we turned on our TVs to fearfully watch again and again two large planes slam into the iconic World Trade Center towers. In the background, smoke poured from the upper stories of both American symbols. A few hours later, both fell, killing several thousand private American citizens. None of us have been the same since.

In the aftermath, Americans demanded protection. Congress reacted with what has become known as the Patriot Act.

Some in Congress were asked, “Why did you a vote for a bill to give the government such powers that are illegal according to The Constitution?”

One replied, “Who could vote against a bill called The Patriot Act?”

The lesson is don’t believe that a bill is what its title says it is. The “Affordable” Care Act is not affordable and, yes, Nancy Pelosi, you need to read it before you pass it!

Typically, government officials threaten some disastrous result if we don’t give them more power/money when they want it. A familiar tactic is to withhold vital services that directly impact people — like if you don’t pay more local taxes, you will lose police and fire services.

Notice the threat always seems to threaten cuts to vital services first — not fat or wasteful spending. There is often this tug of war between government and the people.

Governments throughout history demand that their people give up freedoms for safety. Each time throughout history when this happened, people were left with neither. We appreciate the thousands of good TSA agents who try their best each day to protect us, but have you flown lately and had a well-intentioned TSA agent wearing medical examination gloves make you feel like a criminal?

When anyone honestly looks at the realities of any dangerous situation, no person is in a better position to protect your family and to develop a personal plan of survival and safety for you and your family than you. Whether its safety at home, protecting your family from an intruder or preparing for a hurricane, safety begins with you.

Notice after every disaster, government reacts. No matter how well intentioned and how much intelligence gathering the government does, it is never ready.

As stated in the Constitution, government does have a major role to play in protecting the nation — “provide for the common defense.” Spying on its people is not a legitimate role.

The people of any nation have the primary role to play. We believe an important role is to be a moral people. Without morality — people doing what is right by their neighbor, and demanding what is right of their government by holding their representatives accountable — a nation will not long enjoy freedom.

Note that morality, in this definition, is not necessarily being religious or godly, but just defined as doing what is right.

Next week we will explore the morality of a nation founded as “one nation under God.”

Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing a series of columns on timely issues for today. All three ran in the 14th Congressional District primary.

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