Culture and Religion

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Cultural Maturity

The Founding Fathers of the United States felt that they could create a central government that would nurture the original states. They were very cognizant of the dangers of a democracy, where the majority could impose its will on the minority. The Constitution was crafted such that there might be checks and balances so that the central government would remain limited and constrained. The Congress would prevent the Executive branch from becoming too strong while the Court system would prevent from legislature from passing laws that went beyond the limits intended by the framers of the Constitution.

During the Bush 43 administration, we are clearly witnessing the disintegration of those cultural values of our Founding Fathers. The Republicans now control the Presidency, the House, the Senate and are consolidating (August 2005) their influence on the Supreme Court. The Republican political leaders seek to enforce their 'majority' status to push through their agenda and the feeble Democratic response to push for discussion and consideration, to ensure rational decisions are made, is portrayed as just blocking the progress of these initiatives or nominations. As a number of authors have pointed out, the Presidents of the 20th century were able to shift the balance of power so that now we have an imperial presidency, one that can decide on a course of action without hindrance from either the legislative or judicial branches of the federal government.

Children can exhibit immature behavior like pouting or throwing a tantrum when someone else won't do what the child wants. When a game is not going well and they cannot handle the experience, we can see the withdrawal as in 'I am taking my ball and going home' or the destruction of the game itself, scattering the checker pieces.

Children can also exhibit intolerance. The children's story about Rudolf the red nosed reindeer illustrates how children can reject another child that has an obvious difference. A more mature adult is supposed to help educate the children that such differences are what can be important, where those differences can present opportunities that would be otherwise missed (as revealed when Rudolf with his bright red nose eventually guides Santa's sleigh through a storm). In the story initially even the adult reindeer also shun Rudolf, revealing that such maturity is not always present even in adults. The story reveals the importance of tolerance and acceptance of others that might be different.

Children might act without regard to the consequences of their actions. There are the classic cases like running into a street without looking for traffic. As a child matures, he/she learns that it can be very important to think before an act, so that any consequences can be considered. Having empathy for another also becomes relevant so that the effects of one's actions on the well being of others is considered. A sign of maturity is the attempt at an understanding of another's needs and wants when interacting with the other person.

Children also learn to work with others. Children can learn that when working as a team more can be accomplished successfully than when working as an individual.

Our national foreign policy has become very aggressive, where we can seek out and attack those countries that might offer any kind of threat to our country or even refuse to provide a democratic form of government. Our country is now supposedly threatened by the undemocratic regimes of the world and we will seek to change those regimes for our national safety. Our foreign policy has become confrontational, where the simple criteria is a childish 'either you are with us or against us.' We have recently invaded two foreign countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) just because we did not like their political leaders and we had no plan for how we would help their people after destroying their governments. Due to such ill-advised decisions and the atrocities that followed (e.g., torture of many, killing/harming thousands of innocent civilians who had nothing to do with their leaders, etc.) we now have disrupted the entire region.

Diversity is important to the health of a community or country. Different religious or ethnic backgrounds bring different perspectives when addressing cultural issues, such as raising children and solving economic problems (i.e., services, products and the jobs to provide them). That diversity will contribute to the social and economic health of a community. Without the diversity, an 'us versus them' attitude can take root which can lead to isolation and stagnation. Religious or racial intolerance often takes the form of warnings of the danger of those undesirable intruders. Our leaders have emphasized our supposed rationale that the foreign terrorists want to destroy our way of life, not that they want to repel our invasion or even our interference in their countries.

An antidote to such immature attitudes can be found in rational leadership. Just as children are influenced by the adults dedicated to their development so communities and countries are influenced by the leaders that have been assigned by election their protection. Unfortunately this leadership requires such a high level of maturity that is so rarely found in the American political arena today.

Our American democracy was founded on the assumption that the rule by the majority would not result in the persecution of the minority. The current political leadership is no longer concerned with such matters.

For America to turn around from its current path to economic and social disintegration, the leadership at all levels of government must be renewed.

Our democratic process has become thoroughly corrupted. The political offices at many levels, from the federal level to the state and in some cases even the local level, are now beholden to corporate influences. Our Founding Fathers had envisioned a limited government, with many checks and balances, to prevent it from interfering in normal day to day matters. The government was to only expedite matters, not to interfere in their efficiency. Instead the Presidency has taken on powers typical of a monarch or dictator. The Congress works with the President to spend money however the President desires (Bush 43 has never vetoed a bill; our deficits continue to skyrocket) and to send troops wherever he desires (though Congress is supposed to be the only entity that can declare war according to the Constitution, to prevent foreign excursions without adequate justification for the country to accept).

Congress passes laws that enrich their contributors, to the detriment of their constituents and to the nation as a whole. The rich are getting richer and the number in poverty grows. The disintegrating economy (i.e., the loss of jobs and the manufacturing base to sustain a middle class has resulted in an uncertainty of our economic health; many companies have failed decimating the small business base that is the foundation of our economy; some companies are now motivated to move some of their jobs offshore, to save money and improve profits, into countries willing to do whatever it takes to attract that foreign investment, even as that transfer of wealth contributes to the further decline of our economy), further depressing the American workforce which soon will be left with only lower paying service jobs. Our economy will soon look like that in many third world countries which lack the industrial manufacturing infrastructure.

The attitudes of our Founding Fathers and the fact that many early Americans shared these views indicated a high level of cultural maturity at the time. Many of these views of the colonists were based on their experience with the governments in Europe, including that of King George that they revolted against. They knew that too much concentrated power at the federal level would lead to tyranny. They knew that religion had to be divorced from politics (being aware of the political events during the Reformation). They knew that without government interference the natural economic forces would result in personal prosperity for many. They also knew that war, foreign commitments and a standing army would lead to the downfall of this limited government. In our generation, we have seen all these concerns arise in our current government.

America needs to find that level of cultural maturity again. We need to get religion out of the political arena, where that 'us vs them' perspective leads to the majority oppressing the minority. A mature culture will try to prevent a majority in any context from persecuting a minority by ensuring that attitude does not become an accepted part of the social fabric. We need to get out of foreign adventures, withdrawing all of our troops as they must be used only for national defense - not a national offense (their current role at the direction of the Commander in Chief). We must disavow our past stated intentions (the 2004 Inauguration) to change foreign governments to suit our needs. We need to break the ties between the government bureaucracy and their corporate partners; our warfare, corporate welfare economy is headed for inevitable disaster. We need to rebuild a limited government to replace this one that is a parasite on the economy (with its high taxes and high deficits, printing more money to make up for any budget shortfalls that must lead to eventual inflation) and that also shifts resources based on corporate influences not on impartial decisions seeking efficient solutions. We need to renew our own entrepenurial spirits to reduce the dependency of many on the government dole who are just living off the tax dollars of others. We need to keep our jobs here to provide for own national economic well being by paying our citizens for their services and expertise. A big federal government only means there is sufficient funding for more foreign adventures and for reinforcing the federal control of the populace. Only local control will be efficient and accountable to its people. A libertarian framework is the goal, so that personal rights always take priority over any supposed rights implied in a government entity.

Our American revolution had been seen at the time by the people of Europe as a significant event, where a people was able to overthrow a foreign oppressor and create a limited government that promised to ensure the well being of its citizens. Our current government has broken that promise that was the foundation of our original Constitution.

Having a government whose goal is the well being of its citizens will require substantial action on the part of the citizenry and the economic entities, including all the companies (profit or nonprofit) and charities (religious or not). The current government (regardless of the person or his/her position) behaves to enhance its own power to the detriment of America. Either Americans work to change this or Americans will be trying to rebuild from the wreckage after the inevitable economic collapse (if a nuclear war, being considered by the Pentagon in 2005 with plans to use tactical nuclear weapons (as if nothing was learned from the consequences documented after Hiroshima and Nagasaki), is somehow averted).

created - Sept 2005
last change - 09/25/2005

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