A Parliament of Rodents
Skip French, Pastor at the Disciples of Christ Church in Berryville, gave a sermon this past week titled "Belling the Cat." You may be familiar with the children's story of the same title. In it, a village of mice are terrorized by a house cat, and no one knows what to do. Finally, a Leader Mouse proposes that a bell be tied around the cat's neck. That way, the cat's location will always be known to the mice.
The village mice greeted the proposed solution with excitement and enthusiasm until a little boy mouse asked, "Who will tie the bell around the cat's neck?" Who indeed?
We learn at least two things from the story. One is that a proposed solution must be possible if it is to have any value. The other is that seemingly impossible solutions may be possible if a hero of uncommon bravery is found to carry it out. We can see parallels between the Leader Mouse's thoughtless proposal and the current crop of mice seeking office in the upcoming elections.
Among these mice are candidates of a libertarian bent who argue hard and long for smaller, less intrusive government, and inculcation of a society and culture that is primarily a meritocracy. I agree that such a place would be wonderful, but its success depends on a brave, disciplined population of citizens who collectively promote and honor strong social contracts. Absent such social contracting and discipline you get that practical example of Libertarian government, Somalia.
Other mice promote a more perfect union between government and religion. They believe that citizens who collectively share and follow a prescribed set of religious beliefs and values will effect a government that is strong, pure, and Just. I agree that such a place would be an orderly place, especially if a few teensy Constitutional problems could be worked out. Still, are we a people who would enjoy living in a place that looks and operates like the functional theocracy, Iran? I have a few doubts.
Generally speaking, these Theocratic and Libertarian mice have nothing on the economic proposals of our Democrat and Republican mice. When they are not telling outright lies about one another, or hyperventilating over nothing at all, they vaguely sketch plans that will, on the Democrat side, bankrupt us slowly, and on the Republican side, all at once. Meanwhile, the cat remains unbelled.
Pastor French's sermon contained no political illusions at all, but it was a good summary of what we as a church and a town and a country need to do if we are to go into the future with any grace all. He said that if you want a good thing done, you have to do it yourself--and that it helps if others bravely take action too.