I find it necessary to get out of the "Village Square "from time to time in order to maintain an understanding of where I'm located, at what point in time and space and as to my relationship with the wider universe.
This time I'm moving to an expression given us by one of my favorite presidents over a century ago—the expression, “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
We all understand what “by the people and for the people” means, but I've often wanted to better understand what he meant when he said “of the people.”
Of the people, if it stood alone would, I think, include by and for the people. But as he thought of all three as separate elements constructing a broader concept, “of the people” must however, have had a special meaning.
I think that I discovered what he meant by “of the people” when I was re-reading some of George Santayana the other day and this was expressed in one sentence, “Human society owes all its warmth and vitality to the intrinsic virtue in its members.”
Government, if it is truly to be “of the people,” must express warmth and vitality, an intrinsic virtue of the members, members to which government is responsible.
For the people form and give government “of the people” its vitality. The marriage "of the people” with Santayana's idea of the vitality found in its members, of course, is mine. And this may be artificial in its construct. But for me it gives me a new found meaning.
And now, the expression of the people has a significance even more virtuous than, by the people and for the people in this new knowledge. “Of the people,” is the fundamental premise, even if earlier, I did not understand its full significance and meaning.
And it seems that government's warmth and vitality is better owed to the members of smaller communities than than those governments that seem more distant than our smaller viable entities.
Local government therefore derives its power from its members and owes all its warmth and vitality to the intrinsic virtue of its citizens. Thanks Abe, from all the people and “of the people.”