I’ve been listening to pundits left and right (literally) as the presidential campaign boils into rising steam. I’ll admit that I’ve never taken so much interest in what is going on politically in the country before this presidential election year. If there is a positive to be gleaned from this current piece of history in the making, it is that it is capturing the attention of America and the rest of the world. What happens to America, happens to the world, in one way or another. We humans can unwittingly be seduced into the role of “useful idiot,” even though we do our best to be informed. But it’s hard to be informed when the news is trying to pull us in one direction or the other with carefully selected content. Real neutrality is virtually impossible for humans, although we would like to think that some news media are less compromised by support from one side or the other.
Among the complications to sorting reality from the weeds of propaganda choking our info garden, is the difficulty of sorting weeds from flowers. Some of the weeds look surprisingly good at the beginning. They sprout toward the sky, robust and green, put down deep sturdy roots and don’t reveal their true character until they fail to produce flowers or fruit. They may have a noxious odor, as well. By that time, it may require huge efforts to remove the weeds which are all amazingly prolific and manage to look healthy even in a drought year.
I am talking about political seduction. It talks magically infused words chosen to lure us into an altered state of unconsciousness and it always tells us what we want to hear. Wide awake consciousness would end the power game, and maybe, just maybe remove the gaming mentality. I won’t pretend that I’m indifferent about the current political game or supremely conscious. I am rooting over one team over the other, but I don’t for a minute think anyone has a complete solution to what ails Turtle Island (America) or the rest of the world.
I lean toward liberal although I’m beginning to hate all political tags. I’m not a purist and have lately been feeling that something isn’t right (no pun intended) about placing myself in any political box with worn catchphrases that have drifted from their original meaning. This includes oversimplified phrases loved by the news feeds and political speech writers. We take most of these tags for granted without exploring if there is real meaning behind them.
What about balance? What if conservative interests and liberal concerns are not adversaries but terms describing two aspects of all organic processes. Two days ago, I noticed that I felt a bit ill when listening to one of the many political commentaries on YouTube. Then the light switch clicked on, and I realized that I didn’t want to be identified as a socialist, capitalist, liberal or conservative. In fact, I didn’t want to be identified by any catchphrase. I drew a deep breath and felt my stomach relax. Both Socialism and Capitalism are dangerous when defended against real life consequences. Abstract concepts erase humanity and block the blood flow to the brain. But here are some thoughts that have been swimming in my mind for some time.
In the Declaration of Independence, we have the backbone of America that politicians have been gnawing on since it was written.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
There have been dissenters from the beginning because it is somewhat incomplete in its interpretation of equal.
The phrase "all men are created equal" has received criticism from elitists and traditional conservatives. For instance, Richard M. Weaver writing in one of the cornerstone works of traditional conservatism, Ideas Have Consequences (1948), paraphrased a 19th-century writer in writing that "no man was ever created free and no two men [were] ever created equal". He continues: "The comity of peoples in groups large or small rests not upon this chimerical notion of equality but upon fraternity, a concept which long antedates it in history because it goes immeasurably deeper in human sentiment. The ancient feeling of brotherhood carries obligations of which equality knows nothing. It calls for respect and protection, for brotherhood is status in family, and family is by nature hierarchical. (for family, one could substitute tribe.)
It is obvious that not all people are created equal in all ways. I’m sure our founding fathers recognized that some are tall, some short, some fat and some lean in addition to having different levels of intelligence, personal drive and moral fortitude. Our social and genetic qualities differ greatly. Women aren’t even mentioned but they were half the population and children had yet to achieve their rights within society. In many ways we must grow into equal rights. However, I believe that the founding fathers intended equality to be the right to be or become all that one has the inherent capacity to be or become. Alas, background, personal history, and education have much to do with the results. Equality in this sense, is an ideal to pursue. Power mongers attempt to keep those who are low on the social totem pole where they are and argue that they shouldn’t move from that position. Some infer that god put them there. Now and then, “god” flips the pole.
The hidden self-serving distortion of equality was largely unexpected when the Founding Father’s signed the Constitution. They were not thinking of their native next-door neighbors who preceded them by thousands of years and the many peoples who would eventually arrive on the eastern shores in ships from all the nations of Europe. They couldn’t have known about the western shores still hidden from their concept of America, nor the arrival of Asians. Certainly, they weren’t thinking of the African’s who were already here, as well as the ones who would soon arrive against their will.
We are not one people. The melting pot is a fiction. We are an exotic stew in the making. There are still various pods of culture that arrived with their own ideas of how to live the American dream while maintaining their original cultural identity. This is an aspect of inequality that has added great genius and depth to our stew pot as well as some flavors that have not blended well—perhaps because they haven’t had time as yet to blend their flavor.
Because our Declaration of Independence was written by Western European men with 18th Century ideas of the Enlightenment and the inspiration of the French Revolution, there is an inherent cultural favoritism written in. This involves too many facets of perception to be reduced to right or left. All men are created with equal rights to be all they can be and to evolve into more than they are now. I believe that evolution is continuous. In that sense, we are created equal.
Both Socialism and Capitalism sound well when the theories are presented in a one sided claim by their defenders and both can be dangerous when unchecked by the complexities of real life. Not surprisingly their apologists see the positive side and the negative side is discovered later by those living within their unchecked application.
Today I’m feeling angry that the politicians and their theorists want to put us all in pens of right, left, socialist or capitalist, fascist or any other political coral. While it isn’t easy to maintain balance on the thin, unfamiliar middle line, you don’t have to hate or be hated (well, that last is probably not true). I’ve been listening to intelligent speakers critical of socialism and I agree with much of what they say about it’s extremes that work better in theory than practice, but why would I want to accept the abstract extremes of any ideology. Rugged individualism, extreme independence, intolerance of those with different lifestyles and a hostile approach to anyone near the border of what one regards as one’s personal truth becomes extremely dangerous. It is as out of balance as its opposite of unachievable political correctness, no personal or social borders, and the rejection of all judgements and assertions.
I’m tired of dumping people in a right or left bin and ignoring the uncertainties, paradoxes and diversities of real life on this planet. There is no absolute right and wrong position in the real world (except sometimes in hindsight) and yet both the left and right attempt to box us into a world of absolutes. This has always troubled me. Because it makes theories and political slogans more important than people.
When I was in Junior High (Middle School now), the walk to school was a mile and a quarter and I played mental games to fill the time. One of my favorites was to argue in defense of an idea or situation halfway home and then spend the other half of the walk arguing against the same premise. It taught me a lot about how malleable the perception of truth can be.
There are no absolute right systems or wrong systems in the human world, and yet both left and right attempt to see the world in black or white. Of course, no one identifies themselves or their fellow believers as black unless they have somehow turned the opposites inside out like black magicians.
Christianity has also become polarized within and polarized in the perception of the outside world and yet now and again, a teaching in the Bible comes through unblighted by numbing layers of dogma accrued in the last 2000 years. When it tells us, we are all born in sin, it is customarily misunderstood. To sin means to miss the mark like a marksman with a shaky hand. Of course, we are all sinners to some extent since we do not have absolute aim on the target of right and wrong as mortal beings. We would have to see and understand all that has ever been and all that will be in the future to achieve absolute knowledge and wisdom. That is, we would have to be Masters of the Universe like God.
Murder, rape, and pillage are wrong, but they also take on subtle and abstract forms that are cunningly concealed. While the Ten Commandments are a simple outline of what one will not do if motivated by love and honor, they don’t cover the subtleties of love and honor. You only get that in the graduate course to wisdom. Our problems take us down the wrong lane whether right or left (dear God, I hate those generalizations) when we assume, we know it all and our interpretation is unassailable.
Like a wild horse being herded by a helicopter, I’ve decided to take a sharp turn back at the approach to those right or left pens that we are herded into the way those unfortunate horses are herded into pens by choppers in the sky. They don’t know they can’t outrun that horrible noisy machine following them from the sky, but the noise stops when they are penned in and can’t move anymore. A false safety. They will learn the truth when they catch their breath and try to escape. Like wild horses, we can naively find ourselves in a coral to be used for someone else’s agenda.
Why are wild horses such an archetypal symbol of freedom and evoke nostalgia of something wild and free that is lost? They were once our slaves and now live their lives without us and in a reversal of roles, humans feel wistful envy for these creatures who have escaped enslavement. Are we to be trapped or choose to follow our own inherent organization as tribal beings who value and help each other as relatives? As the Lakota say, “they are all our relations”. It would be so comforting if politics wasn’t played like a ball game or war and people really sought the best for everyone.
We are only stable when we aren’t running from fear and desperation. America is an incredibly young country and still has a lot of adolescent hubris. Perhaps we have flown too close to the sun with our wax secured wings and are due for a crash to solid earth. I hope not yet. I’m not wise or strong enough to welcome any collapse of our seeming safety from the wars, revolutions, horrible dictators and famines older societies have experienced. Maybe there is a transformation into real stability and power on the other side of the test, but I’ll admit I’m not excited about the possibility of a great fall.
When I was a teenager, my entire world came apart and everything I had believed to be real or important appeared to disintegrate. My prayers bounced off the ceiling and hit me in the head. All my dreams and hopes were dashed, and no one wanted to help me. They only wanted to return me to where I had been, and where they still were, which for me no longer existed. For many years, I felt myself plunging down a bottomless black hole. However, I now see that I had to start over in an updated reality and the old one had to die first. It took many years, and now I know it is a lifelong process which I now appreciate in peace and gratitude.
Our country, and for that matter much of the world, is flying high with waxed wings and is losing altitude. One election can change the immediate situation for a time, but we are going to crash eventually because we are not in a realistic relationship with each other, and certainly we are pouring poison on our Mother Earth. Our current president is emotionally and spiritually empty and sucks power from the escapist desperation of many people for his own aggrandizement. The fall is coming. I don’t know if the election of a different president is enough to suspend the fall. I hope so, but I don’t think one presidential change can stop the progression of our immature fantasies of endless protection from our own immaturity as a society.
The Earth is trying to cleanse itself of our abuse and no one politician is going to fix it. There are increasingly powerful storms in some places and drought in other places. The sea waters are rising and many countries including ours, depend on port cities. Humans reflect the dissatisfaction in their desperate acts. Many people are not emotionally, mentally, or spiritually equipped to act with wisdom and decorum, and they will respond irrationally out of fear. Money is a human invention and has been elevated above the planet and its inhabitants, including us. That is pure madness and no one person will cure the delusion. However, one person can exacerbate the speed and impact of our fall from the sky and increase the depth of the fall. If only we could look to a higher truth that like it or not, we are all related and will experience pan-systemic problems, even if some of us are billionaires, or plan to escape to Mars. Do they ever consider that Mars may be in a desert condition now because its former inhabitants did what we are doing now?