“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Rather than complain about the insufficiencies and fallibilities of government I prefer instead to focus my inquiry this morning on the nature of individual responsibility in relation to control.
Yesterday we considered the matter of self-control, particularly as it relates to emergency situations. While handling crises well is an important skill to develop, the greater need is to find the ways to inform the discretion of men and women in times of prosperity and relative calm.
There is a mountain of difference between self-control and the all-too-familiar “control freak.” He who is composed maintains his balance and his temper, no matter what is happening around him. Composure requires a sense of reserve and constraint balanced with a willingness to act swiftly and decisively when the time is right. The control freak, however, knows no bounds in his attempts to establish order around him, according to his terms.
Wisdom, that uncommon often elusive sense, comes not from the frantic application of control. It is not the by-product of book smarts nor is it simply an accumulation of street smarts built from experience. Wisdom unfolds like the petals of the Morning Glory whenever humility in spirit is coupled with decent boldness in action.
Whenever rules, bureaucracy or any other system is used to impose control where control is found lacking, beware. Such an approach is never sustainable. The new controls not only take on a life of their own, they inevitably overreach their bounds while discouraging the development of discretion in that which is being controlled. The same principle works with raising children as it does with running a company or governing a nation.
In any situation where you find a lack of control, you are wise to invest in the reinforcement of the participants before imposing new rules. New rules and bigger government – any external controls – are rarely, if ever preferable to discretion on the part of the individual.
How you inform the discretion of those in your sphere of influence is perhaps the basis for tomorrow’s consideration. Your approach, as you can imagine and have no doubt experienced, has a tremendous influence on whether or not your ideas are received and put into practice.
I wish you a wonderful day and encourage your to resist the temptation to impose arbitrary controls on the chaos in your world. Seek, instead, to educate, inform, uplift and fortify so that the lowest common denominator is raised.