Wednesday, April 29, 2009

principle of the path and government

The principle of the path is taken from Andy Stanley. The principle is this:
it's your direction, not your intention that determines your destination. In other words, the choices we make determine where we end up; not simply where we want to end up.

I've been thinking a lot about this principle recently, and have started to try and apply it to the government's place in our lives. It's my conviction that the government's job is to do what people can't do for themselves. People can't fight wars, build roads, make currency, set up a banking system, etc. They can, however, get jobs, spend money, buy houses, buy insurance, raise their kids, etc. I feel like the American system is designed in a way that allows people to better their lives if they want. This isn't to say that circumstances can't arise that cause good people to be without money, a job, or a house.

Going back to the principle of the path, if it is ultimately a person's direction that determine that person's destination, then what role should the government play in this whole process? If a man's decisions determine a man's place in life, then what should the government do to help that man?

This is where I've landed: The government's job is to ensure that all men are given equal opportunity. It is not the government's job to ensure that all men end up at an equal destination. To me, this principle goes hand in hand with the principle of the path. The government should be designed to give equal opportunity to all people. If, however, a person does not take advantage of that opportunity (due to the principle of the path) it's no longer the government's job to take people to a better destination, because a person's direction, when given an equal opportunity as everyone else, determine his destination.

I'm afraid that America has started to move from a "legitimate concern with equality of opportunity to an illegitimate preoccupation with equality of results."


  1. Well said, Nate.

    I find myself leaning towards a kind of "Conservative Libertarianism" these days.

    Great post!

  2. All I can say is that you are incredibly insightful for your age. I think you've nailed a great principle of government and how it should relate to our life.

    Proud of you.

  3. Great thoughts. I would counter that not all men have equal opportunity in a small government. I'm not necessarily a fan of big government for big government's sake. I am, however, for the government intervening when opportunities become outweighed, and when people find themselves stuck, not because of choices they have made, but because of circumstances outside of their control/choices made by others.

    I am an optimistic who would love to see the government play an active role without crossing those boundaries. Realistically I think we'll have a government that ebbs & flows - one that becomes too big at times & too small other times.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. nathaniel you're amazing and use your creative mind well

  5. Hi, Nate. I'm an old friend of your dad from NEHS & APSU. Your dad promoted on FB your current blog. You have such depth for a soon-to-be high school graduate. The world is your oyster, young man. However, I've spent many years investigating the human heart and mind... specifically, the power of intention. To take your exploration further... here's something you may want to look into...
    What about intention as the predecessor to action, rather than, say, a polarity? One must not neglect that beyond the five senses there is a whole undercurrent that reigns over a human's actions -- the subconscious related to the Biological neural network of the brain. Then below that -- Karma :o).

    These networks develop most of their pathways from ages womb to 5yrs old. Much of those surrounding are not consciously developed by the human. The impact of the DNA and external environment promote a kind of filter through which the human experiences himself and the world. With intention and/or purpose influenced from this filter or somewhere beyond, that human is compelled toward actions to move him forward in his life.
    The sheer fact that you are curious and question... you set up an intention to move past your biological constucts, opening your mind to greater awareness and unbiased/neutral action.. toward mastery of your unconscious... bringing it to consciousness.. self-realization, enlightenment, Truth, etc. Go, Nate, go!
    Wikipedia: Biological neural network: Philosophical issues
    See also: Philosophy of perception

    Today most researchers believe in representations of some kind (representationalism) or, more general, in particular mental states (cognitivism). Thus, perception is information processing which is used to transfer information from the world into the brain/mind where it is further processed and related to other information (cognitive processes). Few others envisage a direct path back into the external world in the form of action (radical behaviourism)

  6. Hey Nate,

    Came to your post via your Dad's FB link. What I got from your article is that people have gotten to a point of entitlement; at least, that's how I feel about the Left ;)"I am owed this," "I have a right to this." So childish! Hey, I saw you reference Andy Stanley, I go to his church. He had a 2 part series called, "God and Country." Sort of political without mentioning leftism or rightism ..
    Just scroll through the CD icons to the 10th one. Enjoy! And, thanks for the post. God Bless