[Editor’s Note: This essay is included in First Essays and A Readable Reader, available for sale on the Buy Our Books! tab of this blog.]
If you have the good fortune to live in a representative democracy, your should work with your fellow citizens to keep an eye on the rulers of your land. Sure: engage in the policy debates of your day. But don’t let those debates and the oft accompanying excitations and divisions separate you from your most fundamental duty: serving as a final check on madness and corruption. To the degree we let our leaders sacrifice good-government (open, honest, fair, without favoritism or bias following the laws, rules, and protocols) for political expediency, we let corruption and madness in.
What is corruption? Indifference to the basic rules of right thought and action: awareness, clarity, honesty, accuracy, competency, selflessness, kindness, generous fearless overflowing joyfulness. What is madness? Incompetency as regards those same basic rules. Corruption and madness encourage each other, are interrelated, and generally go hand and hand. To the degree madness and corruption rule, it is easier to succeed and/or gain and keep power while being bad (dishonest, underhanded, cruel, foolish, selfish, arrogant, incompetent, clueless) and harder to succeed and/or gain and keep power while being good (honest, transparent, kind, wise, selfless, humble, competent, aware). To the degree we let madness and corruption in, we let folly rule; to that degree, we harm ourselves and others.
Madness and corruption (in either an individual’s conscious space or within a group or organization) is when decisions come not from clear, honest, informed, accurate, competent, kind, thoughtful consideration; but rather from confused, dishonest, clueless, incompetent, cruel, mindless violence. It’s maybe sometimes kind of fun to watch movies about gangsters and rulers weaving their way through corrupt states; but it is neither fun nor helpful to live under such conditions; and it is beyond reckless to let politicians reduce the openness, honesty, accuracy, clarity, competence, and good-will in our government.
“They’re all the same!” There is no perfection, but there are better and worse directions; and if we are not consciously engaged and gently pushing towards the better, we are sliding towards the worse and/or risking chaos — which is itself a worse, and out of which generally arises a much worse.
“It’s all the other side’s fault!” OK, then, stop talking to them: that will help us to all better fulfill our shared responsibility to our shared nation. (No it won’t; that was sarcasm; not sure if one can use that in a serious essay; maybe it’s OK now that we’ve clarified that it is not meant seriously, but rather to point out the hopelessness of taking it seriously / at face value. Blame may not be divided equally in all conflicts, but when does shutting yourself off from a sizable portion of a shared democracy ever help the situation?)
“The history and/or structure of this nation is such that it cannot but destroy itself, and that’s what it deserves anyway!” Wait!: at least from this merely-human vantage, there’s no a priori knowable rule for the way history must unfold; and if this ship sinks, we all go down with it, drowning in the same old stupid boring vortex of cruel chaoses birthing cruel orders birthing cruel chaoses … ; so let’s work together to acknowledge where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to get to; and to simultaneously seek a newer world together.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.*
There’s only one hope: let wisdom rule.
And we all know what wisdom looks like: aware, honest, clear, competent, accurate, kind, selfless, sharing joy, knowing how to help and putting that knowledge into action. Let’s think, speak, act, and vote accordingly.
This public service announcement paid for by:
The Community For A Better USA: Come, On, Let’s Succeed Together For Real: From The Inside Out!
And Again Our Refrain:
Everything in its place: We don’t need to agree on worldviews to agree that none of our worldviews means anything to any of us in the absence of clarity, honesty, accuracy, competence, kindness and shared joy.
*The Lights begin to twinkle …
See Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses” (written 1838, published 1842 in the second collection of Poems.]
[Editor’s Note: This essay is included in “First Essays”, available for sale (or free — write us at Editor@PureLoveShop.com and we’ll email you a copy) on the Buy Our Books! tab of this blog.]