Government: A Beacon, not a Burden

BY KIMON STEPHANOPOULOS

In June of this year, Vladimir Putin enacted Russian Federation Article 6.13.1, banning “propaganda of homosexualism among minors,” making the argument that the dissemination of what the article calls “information, propaganda and campaigning that harm health and moral and spiritual development” disturb the “intellectual, moral and mental security of children.”

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On August 23rd, the prosperous, vivid, once-regarded-as-safe city of Mumbai was mostly silent, reeling in the wake of the second brutal gang rape it had seen in one year. Mumbai citizens, a victim of indifference and gender bias by their government, now resided in the country’s new rape capital.

On October 1st, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States stopped being able to investigate the growing number of salmonella cases around the country. Yosemite National Park closed down indefinitely. Children who needed NASA.gov to do their homework were stumped by an error page explaining that their government had entered a shutdown, withholding funding from all non-essential agencies. Congress had thwarted the passing of the 2014 fiscal year budget, over a Washington-wide squabble regarding the Affordable Care Act.

nasa.gov offline

Many believe the Russian Federation overstepped its reach by reintroducing Orthodoxy as the founding principle of Russian culture in such an imposing manner. Women and men all over the world are up in arms about the cavernous gender inequality in India. Many see the government shutdown as a petty, selfish row between those whose job it is to make compromises, with the people living under their government in mind. In short, many have become disenchanted with the state of government around the world.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines government as “the action of ruling; continuous exercise of authority over the action of subjects or inferiors; authoritative direction or regulation; control, rule.” The word “inferiors” is rather striking here, emphasizing that by the classical definition, those in power were seen as those with the capability to assess and instruct the lower-class citizens as to how they should live their lives. Even in the initial models of Greek democracy, candidates for any government office were predominantly male politicians who had to exhibit a certain degree of wealth and status.

There is much social destabilization to be seen in governmental systems that follow the Oxford English Dictionary definition word for word. Russians who identify as homosexuals are in effect prevented from voicing this conflict, lest such notions harm the integrity of the staunchly heterosexual Russian male. Indian women must bow their heads and respect the men around them, even when the men turn on them with iron bars and knives. Federally-employed American workers must get dressed in the morning, show up to their office and drag themselves through the day knowing that they might not get a paycheck for months. When these instances come about, citizens rise up, demanding respect from those in charge of ensuring their quality of life. The governor and the governed are not so black and white anymore.

The global definition of government is changing to focus on the duty a government has to ensure a few unalienable rights, including, but not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These ideas themselves are tricky to define; in particular, the last term “happiness” demands some linguistic gymnastics to fully explain. That said, it is evident that frequent gang rapes in Mumbai leave much happiness to be desired, as does barring the expression of identity by homosexual citizens or withholding a paycheck from a loyal employee.

Thus, government, in its most basic sense, is an entity designed to assure the prosperous, unoppressed passage of life for all individuals living under it. It is a system by which we can go about our daily lives no matter what our sexual leanings or gender or political ideology. It is an article which specifies instructions that open the long, winding road to progress, on an individual, national and global level.

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Kimon Stephanopoulos is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at kimonsteph@gmail.com

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