There are some who believe that the world is divided into estates: the first estate being the church, the second being the government, and the third being the people. The fourth estate is generally reserved for the media.
Years ago at a press meeting in Virginia, I heard the late Eugene McCarthy, whose candidacy and success in the primaries in the 1968 presidential election caused LBJ to choose not to run for re-election, explain what the four estates meant.
His theory was that every estate acts as a balance and when one of the estates gets too powerful, bad things happen in the world. This eventually causes the rest of the estates to band together to bring the power-grabbing estate back into an equal balance.
That always made sense to me.
We only need to look back in history to see that, indeed, this has happened.
The first estate certainly was out of control during the Middle Ages, when the great reformation took place. Church leaders, in the name of God, had people persecuted and burned at the stake. They persecuted and murdered Jews and acquired vast areas of land. Finally, the third estate rose up, with the likes of Martin Luther and other sensible people, and smote the first estate down.
The second estate was at its worst in the last century with the likes of dictators like Hitler and Stalin in dominance over the other three estates until the third estate and fourth estate rose up and put the second estate in its place.
During the Vietnam era, the fourth estate gained control and through its actions caused distrust and insurrection in this country that almost destroyed it. We endured 15-plus years before the dominance of the fourth estate was balanced.
We still haven’t healed from that unbalance of power.
We are currently in this country living in a major imbalance as the government, the major part of the second estate, has gained complete power over the other estates.Unfortunately, at the same time, we have a fourth estate that is in league with the second estate.
We are not going to see that change until the people of the third estate and the clergy of the first estate get a backbone and rise up and stop the imbalance of the fourth and second estates.
Our country was established by people of the third estate rising up to curtail the abuse of the second estate’s powers.
I personally think that the third estate and the first estate have just about had enough of the second and fourth estates’ reign of terror over us.
There is more distrust in government now than I have seen in my lifetime. I have a major concern, though, and it is that there is a delicate balance between the military and its civilian leaders. I pray every day that the general disgust that a majority of the third estate is feeling right now against the second and fourth estates does not involve the destruction of that delicate balance.
T. Pat Cavanaugh is the publisher of The News. He can be contacted at 770-787-6397 or firstname.lastname@example.org