Like most of you reading this, I have a boss. Well actually, three bosses. The first two are earthly bosses, one being the local taxpayer and the other being the folks to whom I report to work full time each day. The third is my heavenly boss, the one to whom I report to in life full time each day. All these bosses are similar in that I am required to serve them in some capacity, and fulfill the work they would have me do. I understand that my duty in each of these areas is to perform a service to their satisfaction, not my own.
Unfortunately, in terms of politics and government, it seems that we live in an alternative universe where the idea of who is actually the boss is skewed. It is like a Wonderland of sorts, where up is down, big is small, right is wrong, and bosses are servants. Behavior which never would be tolerated in the private business sphere is not only allowed but encouraged in the political sphere. Too many of our government employees have forgotten their place, and are acting as if they are the bosses of the people, when in reality it is the other way around. You don’t have to go very far to find elitist, condescending attitudes in government. Just try to critique anyone whose salary is paid by the taxpayers. A true public servant would take such information and seek to do better, in order to make their bosses happy (you know, like we do in the real world). However, if they make excuses, or turn it around and condescend to those whom they are there to serve, or make the public feel stupid or worse, then they are no longer seeking to be a public servant but a public master. They have forgotten that the public does not exist to make a public employee’s job easier; the public employee’s job is to make the public’s life easier. True public service is when the government serves the people, not the people serving the government.
Have you ever experienced what it is like to work with someone in government who actually understands what public service is? It is a pleasure to work with them. However, I daresay we all have been on the receiving end of far more of those who are public-servants-in-name-only. So, why can’t we have more of the former and less of the latter? Frankly, it is because we choose to put up with the latter. If we elect people who have no clue about what it means to have a servant’s heart, and if we tolerate bad behavior in those hired by those we elect, then we are as much to blame as those who are behaving badly. In the private sphere, what would we do if one of our employees treated us in the same way some of these elected officials and those who work for them do? Would we call them out? Write them up? Fire them? Or would we just sit and take it? You know, maybe it isn’t just some of the public servants who have forgotten their place. Maybe some of us have too.
I think it’s time for us citizens to reclaim that which has been taken: the title of BOSS. We the people are not serfs. We the people are masters. The people in government all work for us. And when I say government, I’m not just talking about DC (although they are the greatest abuser of the people). I am talking about every single person that gets a dime of taxpayer money as a part of their paycheck. In other words, that also means state, county, city, and school district elected officials and employees – everyone in these areas all work for us. Not one of these political subdivisions should be a sacred cow, immune from accountability and critique. If we don’t like something, we have a right to demand change, to call people out and demand accountability. Also, in the same respect, if we do like something, we also have a right to expect it to continue. American citizens should never feel like they have to keep their heads down and stay under the radar in order to manage working with the government. Folks, that isn’t managing, it’s being mastered. We have been abdicating our responsibilities as bosses and letting too many of our government employees bully us and run amuck for far too long. In doing so, we are just discouraging the good public servants and enabling the bad ones. And, if we allow this to continue we are not only hurting ourselves, our families and our communities, but we are also hurting our nation.
I think it’s time that we start remembering our place by reminding our bad public servants of theirs.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. ~ Margaret Mead (1901-1978), American anthropologist