If tomorrow we twisted out of bed, turned on our coffee-makers and realized that the establishment had crumbled overnight and we suddenly needed to take charge, we’d quickly realize we’re out of our depth.
Right now, we’re amateurs trying to tell the pros they’re doing it wrong. If they called our bluff and said, Okay, you try!, we’d have no idea what to do. Since we have had few opportunities to practice, we’re likely to prove incompetent at the craft of self-governance.
If you’ve never driven a car before, I’d be anxious to suddenly find myself buckled in next to you during rush hour in a big city. You’d probably rear-end somebody or clip a biker. Still, I’d rather be your passenger in a sturdy vehicle than be chauffeured by a professional stunt driver in a burning car headed for a high-speed impact. Our leaders may be skilled politicians, but that doesn’t matter when our political structure has fatal flaws. And you might get into a few scrapes on your first day driving, but you’d get better with practice.
Self-governance is a skill that can be developed. It’s a skill we must and will develop — but not before we screw it up. As we start gaining power, we need to expect mistakes and be so resolute in our ability to grow and learn that we recover without losing faith in ourselves. And we need to seize opportunities in the present to practice self-governance where we can so we can start to identify the many areas where we need to improve.