Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not Yours to Give

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about American folk hero Davy Crockett? Do you picture a frontiersman in a coonskin cap, or maybe the hero of the Alamo? What about fiscal responsibility? It seems like a non-sequitur at first, but Crockett was a respected Representative from Tennessee as well as the stuff of frontier folklore. This snippet from his life has much to teach us about the way our elected officials should treat taxpayers' money. It's long, but please read the whole thing:
Not Yours to Give, from The Life of David Crockett

A number of things are striking about this story:
  • Crockett actually listened to and respected the opinions of his constituents. He knew he could be easily replaced if he lost the peoples' trust.
  • His constituents are literate and informed, in spite of living in the "backwoods" of Tennessee. They keep an eye on what their representatives are doing in Washington. They care about the way they are governed. They have read the Constitution and understand the limits it places on Congress. Can we say as much about ourselves?
  • Crockett realized he was wrong and admitted it. When was the last time you caught a politician doing that?
  • Crockett came to understand his responsibility with regards to taxpayer money. He realized that he was only a steward and did not have the freedom to distribute money at will from the public treasury. He clearly makes the distinction between private charity and government aid.
How our nation has changed - and not necessarily for the better. Food for thought on Tax Day.

1 comment:

David Murdoch said...

You make a very good point about 'he realized he was wrong and he admitted it; when was the last time you caught a politician doing that?'

I find it amazing when we read scriptures and see things like the kings of Israel putting on and sackcloth and ashes in grief over the things they've done wrong, or if you read history and you find all sorts of stories about christian kings and princes who did likewise. They not only admitted they were wrong, but they publicly apologized and begged forgiveness for their sin... I really don't know when or where this has happened in our modern political world. The closest thing that comes to is when a politician makes an apology on behalf of a nation... although not necessarily on behalf of himself personally.

The world has changed, unfortunately. Perhaps we have even in some ways lost a sense of guilt in the public realm.