The Most Harmful Error Most Honest People Make
by R.C. Hoiles
original source: The Register, December 17, 1956
For a couple of days I have been attempting to give evidence that most of our trouble comes from honest persons.
As Isabel Paterson pointed out, a species could hardly exist if any large member of that species were bent on destroying the other members of the species.
What too many people fail to realize is that a person who is honest can be in error. he can be mistaken. And the results can be just as harmful as it would be if he commits an erronious [sic] act intentionally. In fact, I think it can do a great deal more harm if an act is done by an honest person that if it is done by a dishonest person. We are imitative animals and if we think another person is honest and doing right, we are inclined to imitate that person.
Now what is it that honest people do that causes most of our trouble? In plain language and disregarding religion, it is the belief that a group or a government can do things that would be harmful and wicked if done by an individual and produce results that are not harmful, unjust and wicked. It is the belief that a number of people doing a thing, that is wrong for an individual to do, can make it right and just.
From a religious standpoint, it is attempting to serve two masters. It is a violation of the First Commandment, 'Thou shall have no other Gods but me.' The most common method is worshiping the divinity of the State, representing the majority. This attempt to serve two masters or have two standards of right and wrong -- one for the individual and one for the group -- is undoubtedly a result of individuals using as a guide what their contemporary environment regards as right, just and proper. They use this as a guide rather than eternal principles, eternal moral law that never changes with time or place to determine right from wrong. So the individual who intends to be guided by what is currently regarded as right by the majority has, in reality, no guide at all. The individual who is guided by moral law that never changes has a guide. He does not get into moral trouble. He does not injure his fellow-man. He was goodwill in his heart. He does not enter into any collusion to promote his own interest at the expense of another. he does not try to benefit one by injuring another.
And these are the acts that are bound to follow when a man comes to believe that the government or the majority or the labor union or the church or the business organizations can do things and have them right when they are wrong for an individual to do.
Most Common Example
Probably the most harmful practice of giving an agent of the majority the right to force a man to pay for something he does not want to use is the practice of forcing a man to pay for schooling called "education" that he believes violates God's law and moral law. [Ed: Hoiles was referring not merely to the content of the education but to its compulsory nature and tax funding.] When people come to believe that there is a standard for the majority different than a standard for the individual, there is no limit to what the belief will lead to. It leads to protective tariffs, immigration quotas, drafting soldiers, taxation of all kinds, subsidies, planning and zoning, government parks, government hospitals, government libraries, government parking lots, government post offices. In short, it is a form of Communism, Collectivism or Socialism where some men have the right to rule other men or interfere with another man's right to serve God as his conscience directs....
Until such time as we get more and more people to believe in a single standard and to know that it is wrong for the government to do things that it is wrong for an individual to do, we'll continue to lose more and more of our liberty and have a more and more oppressive government.
Yes, the belief of most honest people that causes more harm than anything else is the belief that the government has a right to do things that would be immoral and unjust if done by any individual.
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