BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
When I drive around Mississippi I usually try my best to take the backroads. Signs that point the way to little towns pique my curiosity. Often I find interesting spots, and almost always meet interesting people. The one thing that seems to be a common trait between all of us is a hospitable attitude. Black, white, it doesn’t matter. I find most people react positively to an open and honest attitude with an open and honest attitude. There are exceptions, of course. Some people are never happy no matter what.
We’ve become accustomed to some things in this country as necessity that those in other countries would call a luxury. Some folks just aren’t happy if they think others have something that they don’t. There is a little of this envious part of human nature in each of us. Some let it show more than others. But, for the most part we Mississippians are still a community minded bunch. We care about our neighbors, and honestly want to know, “how’s your family?”
This is a traditional value. It’s not what you hear spoken of much when you hear about traditional values. Unfortunately, caring for someone else’s well-being is not something that is easy for some to grasp today so they try to redefine values as inanimate things, or in terms of backward customs.
Increasingly, the term traditional values takes on negative connotations as something political and divisive, hateful and exclusionary. The term is being redefined and misrepresented.
Many of us are blessed to have had the importance of community instilled in us. Salt-of-the-earth people, hardworking Mississippians, starting with parents and grandparents and then moving on into aunts, uncles and neighbors, teach the importance of honesty and many other lessons. The people I meet show that this same thing has happened across small towns in this state for generations.
One top indicator of such instilled character to me is the importance of shaking someones hand and looking them in the eye. I’ve done my best to instill that in my own two sons. Someone that will look you in the eye and tell you who they are is someone you can trust. The action itself is an indication of trustworthy intention. Trust is an important part of community, and an important part of freedom.
Zig Ziglar described the foundation for balanced success as “honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty”. These six things are all traditional values.(Tweet this) Each one is often found in the people who serve their community by trying to solve problems and help others take advantage of opportunities. These values can’t be forced. They must be learned. They must be taught by parents to children, generation to generation. For the more hard-headed of us they are sometimes learned by way of trial and error.
Mississippi, like many other rural states, still has some of this going for us if we are willing to tap into the resources that are already in our communities: the people. A central government that rewards politically connected people overrides this natural freedom and reduces the participation of the people in their own communities. This in turn increases a communities dependence on the government and produces more cronyism.
Mississippi is at a tipping point like much of the country because of political favoritism in spending, tax law and government regulation. We are in danger of losing the balance that comes when people participate in solutions.(Tweet this) More and more, generation by generation, we reduce our own power and increase the power of the few by not adhering to the simple foundational principles of “honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty”.
It is not the role of government to create jobs. It is not the role of government to inject money for the purpose of rewarding favorites. It is not the role of government to pick winners and losers. The sooner we recognize this and the sooner we begin rejecting some of the special projects that make politically connected people rich to the detriment of the communities in which we live, then the sooner we will begin to recover our state and country.
Washington, D.C. and the power concentrated there is growing. That’s because they are living off the hard work of the rest of the nation. It’s because the city has become the central bank that loans to those who have deposited a sufficient amount into the right campaign coffers. The power concentrated there steals the vitality of communities across the country.
Meanwhile, we at home suffocate under the weight of the federal governments idea of what our states and communities should be.
The Constitution frames the perfect relationship between government and free people. The framers knew that less government meant more individual freedom, and more individual freedom meant more people involved to make their own communities better.
Everyday Mississippians know more about real-life consequences than any government bureaucratic formula or scheme. (Tweet this) Government cannot devise a solution to everyones ills, and to suggest that it should try is to suggest people aren’t intelligent enough to be free.(Tweet this)
With that freedom comes the responsibility to educate ourselves and our children about what is important, what is right and what is wrong. Does this mean that some will fight for the principles of hard work, individual responsibility, traditional marriage, the life of the unborn and for religious liberty? Yes. But, it’s not because traditional values are discriminatory or mean-spirited. It’s because they are based on centuries of natural experience that is supported by way more empirical evidence than the plans and regulations of any government could ever be.
There are things that are constant and cannot be redefined. It’s not for government to change them. Every time such government meddling happens our communities suffer from the consequences. The individual freedom to live, work and engage with others as we see fit, and to accept the consequences, is the key to prosperity today as it has been throughout history.
Conservatives in little towns and communities across Mississippi know it works, because experience and history shows that it already has. They learned it from those dedicated people who came before them.
About Keith: Keith Plunkett is Policy Director for McDaniel for U.S. Senate. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett