I figured out this morning why I have never cared very much for politics. It’s because of the tendency of people to blame governments and politicians for the world’s problems. This stems from an innate childishness which expects Mommy and Daddy to do everything for us and when they don’t we pout and blame them. The same infantile attitude is there when people first of all expect their politicians and governments to solve the problems and then blame them when they don’t.

This ‘nanny state’ infantilism is one of the things which drove me crazy living in semi socialist Britain. Everyone expected the government to solve all the problems and then moaned and groaned when things went from bad to worse. This infantilism saps personal initiative and reduces people to a baby-ish dependency. Worst of all, this lack of personal responsibility eventually enslaves them to an all powerful state for the politicians will take just as much power as we give them.
When this dependency on the government and politicians extends to blaming a ‘country’ for things that go wrong it is even crazier. When I lived in England I was constantly amazed at how many otherwise smart and educated people would fall into the most smug and ill informed anti Americanism. They would spout about how ‘America did this crime’ or ‘America did that crime’. Countries don’t commit crimes. People do.
The simple common sense fact of the matter is that individuals make decisions for good or for ill. Individuals take noble and self sacrificial actions or selfish, greedy and cruel actions. Blaming a government or a country is just a cop out. This is why each person’s individual choice for good or ill is what really matters. Each one of us is responsible for our lives. Each individual must choose to serve God and others or choose to serve himself.
G.K.Chesterton said, “All arguments are theological arguments.” Therefore, if each individual is responsible for a society is made up of individuals, then the individual choices we make are suddenly cosmically important. What I do with my life matters because I am linked with everyone else to make up the society I want to be better. Notice that God never changed the world with a committee or a government or a council of united nations. While all these institutions may do some good, they rarely change the world for the better at a deep down level. The ones who do that are individuals.
While individuals can change the world for the better it is also true that every man made disaster, war, crisis or calamity is caused by certain individuals making evil choices and behaving badly. This is ultimately why the most important thing we can do is to seek to be saints, because in that decision and in that grueling adventure we will not only (by God’s grace) change ourselves, but we will change others and ultimately change the world.
This is why, when talking to my High School students about their vocation I encourage them to change the world, but first to change themselves.