There are three ways to read this book simultaneously. Or, there were three perspectives at play at most times while this book was (is – public writings are added as they are published) being written. There are tensions inherent in these subjects which you, the reader, can tease out of the pages. You may decide, independent of what I think, which perspective is saying what to you about a particular part or subject. It’ll keep you on your toes and involved.
First Perspective: The Policies and Programs simply stated and taken at face value.
Second Perspective: Political Dialogue; what should it be about and who should be involved in it.
This is a structural description of the processes that are at work in politics now; what I think we should rather be talking about; and how and who it is that should be involved in the discussion.
I have mentioned models. It seems to me that discussing models, i.e. what kind of agriculture, etcetera, we have written into our laws, programs and tax codes, on a national level, is where we should be spending our time. At the present time, much of what passes for political dialogue, both in government and by people, is simply arguing about the details of what we are already doing. We don’t seem to think in a historical sense; how what we do today fits today, was done in the past, or whether it will be good for the future. Part of the problem is how we do politics today. We don’t have long conversations grounded in facts, but instead, have 30 second sound bites of trite and irrelevant drivel. That is good for many politicians because they aren’t necessarily educationally grounded in, or particularly interested in, many areas that they are supposed to make decisions in for us. This is one of the places where money shows its ugly head. Instead of listening to who might actually know something about a subject, many politicians listen to who is giving them the most money in that particular area. Alternatively, after a thorough discussion, if we could decide on, say, an agricultural model which grows healthy food, doesn’t harm the environment, and treats both those who grow it and those who eat it fairly, then it seems to me that the implementation of that model would also be healthy, harmless and fair, i.e. the implementation of a good model will result in a good program. But that will take a well informed public willing to engage in a thorough and wide ranging discussion.
In my two years running for the Senate I found that many of my natural constituency, namely church groups, environmentalists within government regulatory agencies and 501.c3 non-profits, legally proscribed from formally endorsing me, and in many cases even afraid to, or not allowed to, have me come and speak. It was an ‘Alice through the looking glass’ reality. Before I was a candidate I could speak to any group that wanted me to, and did. When I became a candidate many of those same groups could no longer have me as a speaker, although they could bring in an incumbent. Strangely, when I quit being a candidate I could speak to them again. It was like the character in the novel ‘Catch 22’ who wanted to speak to Major Major. When the Major was in, he was not allowed to see him. But, when the Major was out, he could go right in.
Of my natural constituency, I wish to aim my remarks mostly to members of non-profits here. Many members of non-profits are people who throughout their lives continue to educate themselves. They are, in many respects, the most educated and informed of our citizenry. They go to great lengths to keep themselves abreast of topics of interest to them. In many cases, they give their time and money to further their understanding of how things work and pass that information on to other interested citizens. With this in mind, who people in non-profits are and what they know, whatever political group that came up with 501.c3 non-profit status surely knew how to co-opt politically the most informed segment of our population and keep their information out of politics.
As I have said, and will say elsewhere, like it or not, the political arena is where we make our choices as a society about how and what we are going to do as a society. If you have knowledge in an area that is important to the rest of the society, we should be able to take advantage of that and have your help in the decision making process. Those of you who are members of non-profits, it seems to me, must find a way to use your educated and hard earned ‘collective’ voice to let the general populace know which candidates in the political arena know what they are talking about and which ones don’t. Which candidates’ ideas are valid and will work and whose won’t. You are the experts in your chosen fields and we should be able to have the ability for your collective voice to inform the rest of us.
What I have just said above about education and candidates goes for other people, groups and organizations too. The answer to who should take part in political dialogue is of course everyone. But, we need to hear the collective voices of those people who take extra effort throughout their lives to keep themselves informed.
Third Perspective: From the Particular, Human Values for Human Beings (Morals, Ethics and Mores).
I will start this section with a critique by description of the moral value system now prevalent in the Western and Middle-Eastern world; in keeping with my assumption that to quit doing something, one only needs to show that it isn’t working.
As I stated in chapter one, human’s creation myths evolved into religions which evolved value systems. But, those value systems somehow were given a separate reality no longer dependent on their human originators. We end up in those religious traditions with an extra-human, human creation, completely separate from human action, being the ultimate repository and arbiter of human values.
Absurdities abound because of this system. We end up having God on our side in a war to kill other humans. We end up with the even more bizarre, God on both sides of a war. We have people living with the notion that they can do whatever to this world because their true reality is not of this world, but in heaven. We have people thinking that even if all humans are wiped off this earth (and some actually think this is necessary), God and heaven and they will remain. We have literalists using text to come to completely contrary positions concerning the same situation. These are all absurd notions with no basis in any human reality. If the outcomes of a value system are absurd, we can be sure that that system is also absurd.
What are some of the inherent problems in this extra-human value system that give rise to these absurd notions? Picture three boxes at the corners of an isosceles triangle with the two bottom boxes marked human and the top marked God’s rules. The top box’s stuff is static and never changing over time. There are different words in it depending on which religious tradition it is that you are talking about. Those words are open to different interpretation even within one religion. We human actors must go from a fluid immediate human action (lower box), decide which words are appropriate to that action and how they are appropriate even though they might have been written 2000 years ago (upper box), and then decide how that interpretation matches up to, and is applicable to, the situation we now find back down at the fluid human situation (other lower box). With these box to box difficulties, with the unchanging text, with a human-created extra-human nothingness world primary to its creators, we have ample possibilities to create absurdities, which, as I have shown, we do create. Showing that this type of moral system does not work, I can call for us to simply stop using it.
So what does a human-based set of morals, ethics and mores have to offer over the state of affairs that now exist? Most important it would be human based; humans would be primary again. It would be immediate; all decisions would be based on the particular human action. It would be fluid; it could change over time. General notions would come out of particular human actions, rather than trying to fit actions into general categories. We would have good things that happen to humans, and bad things that happen to humans; we would not have “Good” and “Evil” somehow floating around in the world creating havoc.
How can we start this human-based moral system? I assume that any human, no matter who, would think that someone walking up to them and killing them would be a bad thing. We can start there. Further, we can say that anything you think would be bad for you if it happened to you, would also be bad for another person if you did it to them. So, a restatement of the proverbial, and I might add human, notion, that you shouldn’t do anything to someone else that you don’t want done to yourself. This of course assumes a civilized and inclusive understanding of who you are within the family of humans and your particular society. I have no doubt that you can understand and build on this notion. You are once again the master of your own destiny and responsible for all that you do.