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There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals.

Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers and then you cash in on guilt.

Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.

– Dr. Floyd Ferris in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I fell that as a statement about the laws of men this is uncontroversial. Well relatively so.

We live in an age where those who prosecute rule breaking have an almost infinite variety of charges to press against all of us, if they apply themselves to the problem. I doubt there exists amongst us one person who is not guilty of something that would amount to an offense under the laws of the country in which they live.

Except that’s not why I have this quote up. That’s not the reason its on my mind. Rather its the parallel situation that has recently suggested itself to me that has me vexed.

What happens when you start thinking that what Ayn Rand says about man made laws, might be true about the Divine ones you’ve internalised?

What do you do when the dramatic cycle of sin, repentance and forgiveness start to feel like God plays a variation of the guilt game with a degree of skill and vigour that no mere mortal could match. “You are born guilty, you are living in sin, you will die in sin. Inspite of that, I may yet be persuaded to drop the charges against you if you know the right people and beg in the proper manner”.

I can’t shake this notion that any system that works on the premise that to be human is to be guilty, can’t be a good system around which to base a human’s existence.

Anyone want to help me out here?




    • Favela Cranshaw
    • Posted December 20, 2007 at 12:02 pm
    • Permalink

    It’s more than a notion. As a human being, with normal self-esteem, you should feel outrage at having been judged an evil person without any evidence. Try accusing someone (without evidence) of any other sin than “original” sin, and wait for a black eye or a lawsuit. To do that would invite the charge of “un-Christian” behavior.

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