Saturday, April 16, 2005

Corrupt Jawbones

It has been written, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." As exhilaratingly heady as this may make its champions feel, it makes a common fundamental mistake. In modernist/post-modernist thought, this sentiment misleads from its presuppositions. It assumes that the environment is the corruptor of the man; in this case, an environment of power corrupts.

With this, the statement can be used as a double-edged sword. Those determined to be corrupted can be blugeoned from a philosophical/political standpoint, while allies stand upon their inherent birthright of righteousness. Also, of great political benefit, is the assertion that the wise and uncorrupted can defend the 'weak-minded' inferiors that are constantly under threat from corrupted powers that be. A further corollary is that there exist those who are above the evil allures of environmental influences and can direct society into their utopian promised land.

The egregious error committed here is denial that power is only a conduit from which pre-existing corruption can manifest. Mankind is born corrupt and brings that into all his dealings.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5, NIV)
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (John 2:24-25, NIV)

Our nation's founders did not attempt to limit power because it corrupts. They knew that corrupt man abused power. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were meant to limit federal power and within itself to provide a check-and-balance system to protect freedom further.

Despite his massive popularity, George Washington refused a third term as president. He refused the temptation to coalesce power in his own hands because he knew, in his humility, that he could not be trusted with it. Unfortunately, none too few since have had this same humility of understanding.


Al said...

Washington deserves sainthood for his actions.

Lance Burri said...

Hey, if you don't post something else soon, I'm going to be forced to read what you've already got here.