Exhausted

Whatever our politics, Americans, Europeans and people in developed nations are exhausted.

We disagree to the point of absurdity. Antagonists and supporters of candidates, officials or policies struggle when we see that our resistance or support will have to go on and on and on. We are tired of arguing, of losing friends, and of pretending that politics are not the elephant in the room. We are tired of the news and we feel guilty when we hide from it. We feel guilty when we do not do as much as we think we should and useless when whatever we do seems to be an exercise in futility.

Is there a solution? Can we see a silver lining in the fact that so many more people are engaged in government affairs? Perhaps, because in a sense the ability to disagree is a great freedom. What do you think?

See New New York, 3000 Years Later to consider a society which requires everyone to behave according to the motto “One Spirit! One Word! One World!”

Divided 

People of the world have been united and divided for as long as we can remember. City states warred for territory. Religious loyalists sought to impose their beliefs through both kindness and viciousness. Social groups fought to promote their values and to protect their status. Immigrants and emigrants crossed mountains, oceans ,and deserts going to seek fortunes or to escape from natural and man made disasters.

Thus, we organized ourselves into groups that collided with other groups. We identified with those who resemble or reflect ourselves and rejected those who differed in appearance, or belief, or custom. We forged alliances and fought enemies with different peoples at different times. Such behavior seems inherent to our humanity.

Many of us continue to force our beliefs, methodologies, and customs on others, believing them to be more truthful or superior. Of course we cannot impose our appearance on others except by blending our races over time. Our attitudes about racial mixing, though, are fraught with prejudice, attraction and other factors that are not totally clear even to ourselves.

Still, some of us resist and “otherizing” people who differ from ourselves. We try to appreciate at least some differences.

Today we are most focused on a political divide which encompasses all the other divides: racial, economic, social and cultural. We are most divided in our notion of unity. How should we govern ourselves and be governed? How should we behave publicly? Should we be polite or honest? What does civility mandate?

What is our responsibility to our fellow man, to our world and to future generations? Can we do or be me better? Can we achieve a more peaceful world? How much of our behavior is determined by our history and our destiny?

What do your think?

For some historical and philosophical insight consider the story of the great Mahabharata War which pitted families and friends against one another. See an analysis on pages 80-86 in On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

The American Way

 

Unlike many other democracies, the American democracy is adversarial. This means we work on the basis of disagreement. Our political parties, our laws and our courts are founded on the idea that the truth emerges when proponents of opposing positions argue and the people decide judge via a jury or a judge.

The adversarial system is derived from Roman law and it differs from the inquisitorial system which originates in the Napoleonic Code. Curiously, civil courts in the Great State of Louisiana continue to operate more inquisitorially, in accordance with their French heritage. In courtrooms, the adversarial system provides a bigger more dramatic role for attorneys whereas the inquisitorial system entails more probing by the court.

Our adversarial system spills into politics and the two party system which provides a winner and a loser in elections. Thus, for better or for worse, our politics are contested and our government works more on the basis of compromise rather than of collaboration.

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In the United States, we do best when we have two strong parties. When one of the parties begins to fall apart, things get out of control. Independent parties do little more than create upsets.

This year Americans are extraordinarily and almost evenly divided in their politics. Our nation is increasingly diverse and our opinions are significantly divided by demographics. Thus, whatever the outcome, a large number of people will be dissatisfied. Hopefully the winners will be able to keep us all calm, accepting and hopeful. But what if they are not able to accomplish this feat? The wait for the outcome is nerve racking.

Debate and Aftermath

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The first presidential debate was more than strange. It seemed surreal. Those of us who have watched prior political debates were shocked. New viewers were probably far more entertained than they expected. I think it is difficult to consider this a good thing because much of the entertainment came at the expense of dignity. And the titillating drama continues.

On the other hand, the 2016 contest is engaging a good chunk of the world and provoking more of us into following the goings on and into thinking and feeling about them. We Americans are compelled to consider who we want to be as a nation and as a member of the world community. We are looking at our media and considering its importance and its interaction with social communication. We are considering the difference between generalization and individualization. We are both embarrassed and proud. We appreciate the importance of our personal participation national and international movements and we are evaluating our values.

This is the good part. Awaiting the outcome is the scary part.

One Spirit! One World! One Word!

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“One Spirit! One World! One Word!” is the mandate imposed upon our planet’s inhabitants in the futuristic sci fi novel New New York, 3000 Years Later. “One Spirit” requires humankind to accept that all people are equal in spirit. The meaning of spirit is undefined but this term represents purpose, nobility or humanity. “One World” mandates political unity. “One Word” mandates that everyone in the planet speak the same language.

Divisiveness is a crime in New New York.

Are equality and unity ever likely to prevail prevail on our planet? In the face of real or imagined threats from aliens, would humankind be more likely to foster equality or unity? Is our world likely to thrive or even survive absent these values into future millennia?

Science, Religion and Politics

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Science, religion and politics make and break alliances and friendships. For better or for worse s humankind’s views on these things clash as often as they coalesce.

Some of us believe we have progressed whereas others like myself view human ideas and attitudes as cyclical rather than forward moving. I consider our humanity and intelligence to be independent of the improvements we have made in gadgetry, speed, communication and of our ability to interfere with nature.

I don’t believe human kind has become wiser or more enlightened over the millennia, centuries or decades. We just go round in circles. The more we know, the more we recognize how little we know about worlds and planes beyond our intellectual or physical reach or about our inner selves. We are not getting any kinder or gentler.

Nevertheless our beliefs matter because we matter. Human perceptions of worlds, universes and truth affect our behavior and interaction. They determine our values. They are the underpinnings of our beliefs, the foundation of our hypocrisies and the causes of our joys and sorrows.

Are We Our Brothers’ Keepers

Are we our brothers’ keepers? People have always been searching for answers to this question. To what extent do we have to help others? When, under what circumstances and to what extent should we or must we share our resources with those who need them. And how should we give help, as human beings or as taxpayers of a nation?

To many of us the answers are obvious, even if complex. Unfortunately we often disagree on the answers that we consider so obvious. But then again, if we live in a democracy, we will eventually get it right if we remember that we are accountable to our conscience and that our government is accountable to us.

 

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

New New York 3000 Years Later is a work of science fiction. In this work, New York City continues to be the financial center and the pulse of Mother Earth. It is run by a few persons of intelligence and good will who are overshadowed by self-serving politicians and lazy bureaucrats.

The new New York today represents New York State which is striving to become friendlier to business enterprises.

According to the fictional New New York, the world is at a good place 3000 years in the future. Our planet is united. Everyone speaks the same language. Everyone is required to honor a revelation that says, “One Spirit! One World! One Word!”

How do you suppose that works out?

Political Language

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In the United States the notion of freedom of expression fiercely extends to language. There is no Academy of Language that maintains the purity or even the meaning of the words we use. We live in a state of descriptive linguistics rather than prescriptive linguistics. Our grammar books struggle to keep as things can be “very unique” and we do not know who killed “who.”

Words like unique don’t mean what they used to. Something can become very one of a kind and “sick” means wonderful. Our politicians “otherize” groups and people who do not bode well for their continuing success/re-election.

When television became dominant, Mc Luhan made the case that “The Medium is the Message.” His point is the messaging is greatly influenced by the medium presenting it. This concept has great importance with the exponential explosion of the multiple avenues for messaging.