Representative Democracy is a Spiritual Good

Representative Democracy is a Spiritual Good

[NYC Journal – Politics Page]

[Update Saturday 9/19/2020: We keep working on this one. Getting better, we think.]

[Update Wednesday 9/23/2020: maybe could someone help us with this? We know that Something Deeperism and representative democracies are the way to go. But we worry we are not being clear enough, and now this essay is four essays and twenty pages and we need help.]

Each version has details not included in the other versions.
We recommend you read all versions in order. They build on each other and together flush out the picture we’re trying to paint. You can of course just read the first couple.

Short Prayer Version

A Win-Win Prayer

that the system doesn’t fall apart
that things get better for everyone
that I find my way and make it shine
that everyone find their way
and we all together make it shine
that representative democracy thrives
that the world doesn’t melt
and the nukes don’t fly
that the bugs don’t spread
and we don’t all die.

when is good fun possible?
only in a healthy time and place
can one be both happy and good.
God help us keep our republic.

1 Page Version

It is difficult to live well within a corrupt state, and/or a repressive regime: You have to be corrupt to be much of a success. That is not very compatible with spiritual growth. It is much better to live in an open, transparent, healthy democracy, with checks on excessive power — on excessive concentrations of political power, media reach, wealth, and so on. In such a state, the worldly successes we all long for — partner, family, friends, health, safety, free time, freedom of speech and motion — is pretty compatible (it can be done relatively painlessly / joyfully!) with the spiritual growth — aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, generous, joyful; centered around a growing insight into that and why it is True to say “We are all in this together” — we all need if we are to understand, follow, believe in, and/or care about our own feeling/thinking/acting.

In a healthy, open, transparent, functioning democracy where the rule of law is fair and universal, citizens jointly watch over and correct their shared government, free of the constraints imposed when individual wealth, prestige, and/or safety depend upon uncritical support of government and/or acquiescence to and participation in corruption. This creates a space where people can speak and collaborate openly and in good faith, sharing the fundamental spiritual values (“aware … in this together”) adequately well, and thus communicating meaningfully with one another and together participating meaningfully in their shared government. And, because the government has both anti-corruption rules and enough transparency for citizens to look in on matters when they want to, it creates an environment where most people are free to spend most of their time and energy not thinking about politics and government; but instead learning, creating, building relationships and communities, and otherwise deriving benefit from their shared resources (the economy, society, media, environment, and etc. the government — which is ultimately controlled by the people — regulates) in good conscious (because success is not synonymous with participating in corruption and other follies).

Nothing is perfect, but we should push for ever less corruption and madness in government, and for an ever-healthier (more open, transparent, honest, accurate, competent, fair-playing, well-meaning) government. In this way we maintain joint control over a reasonably functional government, and are thus at a political starting point. From this starting point, we must work together to ensure our behavior towards one another and the decisions of our government reflect our shared fundamental values in ways that are more and more meaningful to and helpful for all of us.

This is how we humans can live best: both happily and decently/spiritually-joyfully.
It is much more spiritually healthy to offer people a place where they can be both happy and decent than to let a few people steal all the power, and everyone in the country must either suffer righteously (or just suffer) or live well while compromising their decency and spiritual health.

Again, there is no perfection, but there are definite directions. To the degree we sacrifice open, transparent, healthy representative democracy, we destroy our only method for meaningfully sharing conversation and decision-making. We are like an individual who ignores their own mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. This is always folly: everything is meaningful to an individual or a group only to the degree an individual or a group’s feeling/thinking/acting is meaningful to that individual or group. The ends do not justify the means: if we betray the prerequisites for individual and group meaning in the name of some goal — no matter how grand — we are like people poking out their own eyes in the name of some great sight they are going to go see.

Are the Republicans in the US House and Senate willing to trade tax cuts and two supreme court justices for a functioning representative democracy? If so, then they are willing to shoot us all — no, not in the foot: in the head. In such a case, Trump and those who’ve allowed him to dismantle our democracy will have forced our hand: we must elect Joe Biden and the Democrats in the 2020 election, and we must make sure this election is fair enough that the winner wins. That would be the first step towards reclaiming our shared democracy and thus internal meaning as a nation. We look at the many ways Trump and his enablers are undermining our democracy at an overview of Trump’s treats to US democracy.

[On Saturday 9/26/2020, we moved a separate essay to its own spot: ]

4.25 page version
Note on 9/25: too tired to read this now, but I bet it is too long and convoluted too

[as of 12:16AM on 9/8/2020, the short version (which I tossed up with so much gusto and self-satisfaction six hours ago) was terrible but now I’ve fixed it, but it probably still needs some work]
[updated it again on Saturday 9/12/2020. This has gotta be pretty good by now. We’d think. But we added quite a bit during this edit, which means we need another edit before we can hope to rest easy over this little summary of “Representative Democracy is a Spiritual Good”.]

What constitutes spiritual health?

Growing individually and collectively more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, compassionate, joyfully generous, joyfully sharing, joyfully together, joyful. But for real! Not merely seeming to do so.

Something Deeperism is the general worldview that human beings can relate meaningfully to the Truth, just not in a literal/definitive/1:1 way.

Something Deeperism is the only tenable worldview. If there is nothing that is actually True, then our ideas slide hopelessly about as self-admitted conjectures. Therefore, we know that without a meaningful relationship to an Absolute Truth, a our thoughts cannot follow, believe in, or care about themselves (because our thoughts know they are just spit-balling). However, the Truth is reliable because it is Absolute, but our thoughts are not Absolute; therefore, human thought cannot relate literally/definitively/1:1 to the Truth. Therefore, the only way forward for human thought is to find and grow a meaningful relationship with Absolute Truth while guarding against its (human thought’s) tendency to imagine that its ideas and feelings about the Truth are themselves the Truth.

Luckily, there seems to be a Light/Truth within that Knows that and in what sense it is True to say “we are all in this together”, and that likewise both ratifies and explicates the universal values of “aware … joyful”. So we have a hope: arrange our thoughts and feelings around that Light (here we posit ideas, feelings, and the Light all together in one conscious moment) better and better, so that we get better and better at understanding that and in what way it is True (not just an opinion!) to say “we are all in this together; we should feel/think/act aware … joyful”.

We’ll never have an emotional and/or intellectual proof that the Truth exists, but we can organize our feelings and thoughts around the Truth better and better until we reach a tipping point where it is more true for our thought-as-a-whole (feelings, ideas and the Light/Truth all relating imperfectly but still meaningfully) to assent to “we are all in this together: that is an absolute Truth; not an opinion” than for our thought-as-a-whole to assent to “I have no idea what’s going on”.

Indeed, we all know all this. We all know that without a True Insight into that and in what way it is True to say “we are all in this together”, human thought cannot follow, believe in, or care about itself. And we also all know that a True Insight must by definition be wider and deeper than human ideas and feelings, meaning our thought’s relationship to a True Insight could never be 1:1/literal/definitive, but could a best be a better and better organization of ideas and feelings around a Truth that shines in and through all things, even our sorry-ass conscious spaces. And so we all already know that the question is not whether or not we should be Something Deeperists, but whether or not we should bite the bullet, admit we can’t help but be Something Deeperists, and so work to become better and better Something Deeperists: to better and better organize our ideas and feelings around the Truth within, while simultaneously fighting our inborn lust for pretending that our ideas and feelings are the Truth (this lust is the core lust: the attachment of specific longings to the daydream of Infinite Salvation: “if I just had that mate; that house; that family; that job; that status; that car; that income; another beer …”).

For some people, that is too much philosophizing and metaphysicking.

Their loss, but it needn’t be a terrible drubbing for them or for the rest of us. For shared Something Deeperism to work, all we need is for everyone to agree that we should prioritize the universal values of “aware … joyful”, while also agreeing that no individual human has the lock-down on explicating those values, but we all have some insight into those values — allowing for meaningful conversations about them.

Everyone should be willing to agree to this. To the degree a human being is feeling/thinking/acting “aware … joyful” their thoughts are meaningful to them; to the degree they aren’t f/t/a “aware … joyful”, they cannot follow, believe in, or care about their own f/t/a. [Try it! If honesty doesn’t matter, why tell yourself the truth? If you don’t tell yourself the truth, why believe in anything you are thinking? If kindness doesn’t matter, what can you actually care about? If you can’t actually care about anything, why pretend you care about your own thoughts and feelings? Why pretend they mean anything to you?] And how can human beings meaningfully communicate with one another except to the degree that they together accept the preeminent importance of those values without which none of their thoughts can mean anything to any of them?

OK, so it is agreed that we will publicly agree upon the necessity of feeling/thinking/acting “aware … joyful”. We will agree to never abandon these values (no matter what!); because to the degree we abandon them, our own f/t/a becomes meaningless to us: we lose traction in our own moment and flail about in a meaningless mush of animal impulses and forced-dogmatisms all yowling and arguing inanely with one another.

But I think you don’t really get the universal values. And you think I don’t. Who is right? Who really gets them?

Whether you want to talk about things like “Truth” or not, there is clearly more to these values than any words and definitions we might use to point to them. Except to the degree we join them to the fundamental values, neither passions nor intellectual findings and proofs are as important to us as the values themselves. Let us therefore agree that they are meaningful to us partly because we experience them as wider and deeper than feelings, ideas, and proofs about them.

Accordingly, let us agree that the universal values do not fit perfectly into any human being’s ideas and feelings about them. Let us further note that a need to recognize the fundamental sameness of all humans — the sense that we are all in this together and must be good to and cherish one another — is wrapped up within our sense of “aware … joyful”; and that therefore part of what we must accept if life is to mean anything to any of us is that we are all similar enough to meaningfully share the universal values.

OK then: We have a shared Something Deeperism: We’ve agreed to jointly accept the fundamental values without claiming exclusivity in our interpretation of them: We’ve agreed to prioritize “aware … joyful” and to together work to make “aware … joyful” underpin and guide our collective decisions.

But:
Imagining one is successfully living the universal values can be used by both individuals and groups to prefer ideas and feelings about the Truth to whole-being engagement with the Truth. Therefore, we must never abandon the outward form of uncorrupted living/acting. Transparency, openness, accuracy and honesty, competence and fair play can be monitored publicly. Maintaining these standards can therefore help us guard against evils that can slip in when too much faith is put into an individual’s or a group’s moral, intellectual, and/or spiritual correctness.

While we should work as best we can to work together to let “aware … joyful” guide us, we must at a bare minimum always create and sustain systems that do not betray these universal values. That is to say: we must ground our processes both in the universal values and in those outward forms (transparency, openness, accuracy and honesty, competence and fair play) that allow us to publicly monitor our organizations and together guard against corruptions.

How?

How do we realize that goal?

Enter representative democracy with universal adult suffrage, transparency, separation of powers, an unpolitical bureaucracy, limits on individual political power, laws that apply to everyone, and freedom of assembly, speech, and religion.

That system is designed to elicit open, honest, accurate, competent political work that seeks win/win and the best for all citizens. All the stakeholders are able to see how their representatives speak and act. And there are safeguards in place to prevent the corruptions inherent in consolidating power, claiming divine authority, suppressing dissent, trading votes for personal favors (money, etc), and the like.

In a healthy representative democracy, the government mostly runs itself and does so within the bounds of the universal values. The citizens therefore have the time to live their own lives while also serving as a final check against madness, corruption, and folly in government. Citizens can jointly safeguard everyone’s right to live the universal values in ways that are meaningful to them; and they can also keep their shared government on the right track.

Politicians must speak honest and accurate, they must be competent and play fair, they must respect the rule of law, they must use their power for the public good and not for private gain and/or egotripping, they must seek and find policies that are good for all the stakeholders. Otherwise, the citizens will remove them from office. Because the system is transparent and there are safeguards in place to prevent abuses of and consolidations of power, the citizenry can mostly let the government run itself while still keeping an eye on individual politicians and policies to make sure the politicians first and foremost preserve representative democracy and its norms and formalities (transparency …) itself (otherwise, soon no citizen will have any power over their own government) and also that their representatives pursue policies that comport adequately well with their (the citizens understanding of the universal values). Note that politicians may promise the latter while undermining the former; but insofar as they undermine the former, they guarantee that soon no one’s values will reign except those of whoever happens to be in power. And power-holders tend to value whatever will allow them to maintain power (and usually concomitant goods like wealth and prestige).

In a healthy representative democracy, citizens help keep their shared government true to the universal values without which no meaningful conversation is possible within an individual human conscious space or between human conscious spaces. Not perfectly. Neither individuals nor groups of individuals can follow the universal values perfectly. But citizens and leaders can work together to preserve a space of shared meaning: a government that (by being transparent … fair, and holding fair and regular elections) is responsive to the people and that prioritizes the universal values without which no one’s thoughts can mean anything to anyone. To the degree we succeed here, we can meaningfully relate to our government and one another.

Below we go on and on about this, but that’s the gist of what we’re trying to say:

We need to vote Trump out and restore democratic norms so that we can meaningfully share a government.

We don’t need to believe in each other’s exact religious and/or philosophical positions to meaningfully share a government with one another. What we need to believe in is the universal values that ratify and explicate all our worldviews (insofar as those worldviews are meaningful), and that we are working together in good faith to keep those values first. Blind faith will not accomplish that because blind faith is meaningless faith; we need to share meaningful faith. To meaningfully share faith in the universal values and our shared interest in preserving them, we require clarity, honesty/accuracy, openness, competence/fair-play and transparency in government; and also — to guard against corruption — safeguards against power consolidation — safeguards like separation of powers, separation of church and state, an independent civil service, freedom of press, term limits, fair elections, and so on: all those pieces that create a healthy republic.

Because he is undermining democratic norms and institutions, we the voters need to ask Trump to leave. To the degree we lose our democracy, we lose the ability to govern ourselves and there’s no point discussing whether or not we are meaningfully sharing a government: the government no longer belongs to anyone except the kingpin and his henchman. If we can stop Trump, then we can work with Biden to help us restore and reinvigorate our shared democracy. But the process will take more than four years. Trump may have greatly accelerated and exacerbated the problem, but it did not begin with him.

We need to together take back our country while learning to speak to one another meaningfully. We can speak to one another meaningfully! We do not share all the same beliefs, but we do share universal values that we can return to again and again as a shared starting point for shared meaning. This can be done. This should be done. We should do this together.

Long Version (like ten pages)

Another attempt of the same: RDIASG/Come Here [needs work]

[This is a work of Something Deeperism. Something Deeperism is the general worldview that there is a Truth and people can relate meaningfully to It, just not literally/definitively/1:1.

A discussion of the superiority of Something Deeperism as an individual philosophy can be found in “Why Something Deeperism? Simple! It’s not self-defeating, but all its rivals are”. For a simple overview of Something Deeperism’s role in groups and governments see “A simpler shared Something Deeperism” and “Duties of a Republic’s Citizenry”.

The authors also often argue that we are all already Something Deeperists; the choice is whether or not to embrace that situation and work to become better Something Deeperists, versus pretending that a worldview based on either nihilism or literalism is meaningful to human beings.

There are several essays on Something Deeperism at Something Deeperism Institute. Those essays and many more are available for US$3-US$4 (come on!) in either the famously readable A Readable Reader or (for more essays, but very few poems or stories) First Essays (Buy the Books page)]

Representative, liberal democracy, with freedom of speech, limits on individual power, separation of church and state, and a politically-independent bureaucracy is a spiritual good.

1.
What constitutes spiritual health?

Growing individually and collectively more aware, clear, honest, competent, creative, kind, and joyful.

Wisdom is the process of better and better arranging feelings, ideas, words and deeds around the Truth shining within and through everything — including each human conscious moment. Because Truth is wider and deeper than human ideas, feelings words or deed; our wisdom is always a work in progress.

Individual wisdom increases as an individual’s ideas and feelings better understand and follow the Light within. One’s ideas and feelings, being limited, cannot translate the unlimited Light perfectly; but one’s thought-as-a-whole (ideas, feelings, etc, all interacting imperfectly but still meaningfully together) can get better or worse at hearkening and following the inner Light.

With concepts like “Light”, “Truth”, “True Good” and “God” we point towards a vista that all humans share.

Only the Light/Truth knows what is actually going on, what actually matters, and what should actually be done. For this reason, the Light/Truth alone is fit to rule one’s conscious thought-as-a-whole. And ideas and feelings know that: they know that left to their own devices they’ve got no starting point — no firm foundation atop which they can build thoughts and actions they can believe in. They know they need the Light to guide them if they are to be meaningful to themselves, and they also know they cannot literally/definitively/1:1 understand the Truth (because It gets Its authority by being Absolute and boundless; and ideas and feelings are obviously limited).

These are universal values: “We are all in this together and should feel/think/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, kind, joyfully sharing, joyfully together, joyful”.

These values point to and flow from an essential insight that is prior to ideas and feelings. The degree to which one possesses this insight, one’s feeling/thinking/acting are meaningful to one. Because the insight is ultimately prior to ideas and feelings, it is not enough for an individual to blindly accept the universal values: one must work to gain whole-being insight into that and in what way they relate to the Truth.

Therefore, accepting and pursuing the gist-of-things to which those words imperfectly but not therefore necessarily inadequately point is a prerequisite for wisdom, but it is not a guarantee of wisdom. And, of course, as previously stated, the insight that ideas and feelings can have into the Light is not a literal insight, but an adequate organization around the Light — an organization that must be constantly tended to and improved, lest one’s focus slip away from the Light and onto ideas and feelings about “Light” and/or “No Light”.

“We are all in this together and should feel/think/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, kind, joyfully sharing, joyfully together, joyful”: To the degree one understands that and in what way that statement is essentially True, one’s own feelings/thoughts/actions are meaningful to one. To the degree one lacks this fundamental insight, one doesn’t understand, believe in, or even care about one’s own thoughts and actions: one flails meaninglessly about in loud noises one tries to pretend one understands, believes in, and cares about; dirty dishsoap fills one’s mouth; all is sick and cramped and hopeless lost.

[See the aforementioned “Why Something Deeperism? Simple! … ” for more on this]

Growing in wisdom is growing in internal meaning/coherency: feelings and ideas better perceive and follow the Light that alone Knows what is really going on and what really matters, allowing the Light to better order the whole conscious space so that one’s thought-as-a-whole better understands that and in what way it is True to say “we are all … joyful”.

2.
Wisdom desires more wisdom.

For an individual conscious space, more wisdom means better orchestrating ideas and feelings around the Light so that the conscious space better understands that and in what way it is True to say “we are all in this together and we should feel/think/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, compassionate, joyfully sharing and joyfully together”.

For a small, intimate group, more wisdom means people opening up to one another and working together to grow wiser as individuals and as a group — communicating within themselves and between one another in ways that bring the counsel of the Light to the forefront of their individual and group decisions and actions.

In a government, we cannot realistically read our leader’s hearts, and power tempts leaders into deceiving themselves and others about how wise they are. Therefore, in a government, wisdom-seekers must primarily focus on external, publicly-verifiable formalities (the need for such formalities also exists in one’s own private and in group wisdom practices — but to a lesser extent than in large power-sharing structures). The aim is to keep the government as wise as possible given the distances and powers involved.

In a government, more wisdom means better ensuring that individuals and individual groups can grow in wisdom (internal meaning) while participating meaningfully in their government — but not full-time: people have their own paths, their own jobs, their own families and friends, their own lives.

Clearly, government must protect people’s health and safety, as well as their freedom to pursue wisdom in ways that are meaningful to them (a forced/mandated insight is no insight at all).

But how can government be meaningful to all citizens?
To achieve this, government must publicly acknowledge and prioritize the fundamental universal values (without which no one’s thoughts are meaningful to anyone) while allowing individuals enough knowledge of and power over its workings for them to collectively ensure that their government is representing them in a manner comporting with the universal/fundamental values; but not so much immediate power over its workings that political change lurches quickly this way and that, or so much immediate power that political oversight demands more time, energy, expertise and insight than private citizens generally have.

A good government protects the ability of individuals to pursue wisdom in a way that is meaningful to them, while also providing a framework for group decision-making that (by accepting and prioritizing the universal values) is meaningful to everyone — even if (and, indeed, largely because) no one gets to force the collective to agree with them on everything.

3.
What must a government do in order for its citizens to keep an eye on it and keep it headed in the right direction?

It must maintain procedures and power structures that are transparent and that demand clarity, honesty, accuracy, competency, and uncorrupted civic-duty from all involved. In this way, individuals can see what is going on, and that the general program is in keeping with the universal values, and they can help to push the government towards better and better abiding by the universal values while doing its job: meaningfully engaging with the problems of the day and making public decisions that are responsive to the needs of the public.

Specifically, government should demand an open, clear, honest exchange of ideas; require accuracy and competency of all involved; forbid trading political decisions for private gain or for campaign donations (which, by helping you entrench power and prestige, are a type of private gain); limit power; and generally demand transparency and clear, strong and well-enforced anti-corruption and power-sharing norms and rules. Further, to keep power adequately limited, leaders must adhere to publicly verifiable standards like honesty, competence, sound judgement, and win-win decision-making. Leaders should not be permitted to claim spiritual authority or any other absolute authorities, as absolute authority is too often used to justify demanding blind faith in poor leadership.

[Some might argue that you cannot have freedom of speech and campaign finance reform; but this confuses the right with using money (a type of power more available to some than others) to amplify and repeat your message in psychologically manipulative ways with the right to speak your mind. Exactly how campaign funding should be regulated we can discuss, but it is clearly a perversion of the political process when politicians spend more time fundraising than legislating. And then there’s the lobbyists who help them get their money and who then expect their ear.]

4.
What is representative democracy? A form of government in which leaders are beholden to the citizens. Citizens elect their leaders. Leaders serve an appointed term and then must either stand for election again or, if their term limit’s up, quit the office. The executives, legislators, judges, bureaucrats, military, and all other civil servants are politically answerable first and foremost to the citizens of the nation, as opposed to being first and foremost the henchman of some powerful figure, cloaked in heroic myths and fancy certainties. Ideas are discussed openly, honestly, and without fear of reprisal.

In a representative democracy, the people can throw their support behind various ideas and initiatives and in this way shape norms, legislation, and enforcement. But most fundamentally the people serve as a final check on madness, foolishness, incompetence, and corruption in government.

In a representative democracy, the citizenry’s most fundamental job is to demand a fair game. Government must be transparent, orderly, fair, and effectively seek win-win and the collective good. Bureaucracy must be transparent, competent, and independent – not manipulated for political show. Politicians must accept and foster those standards of good and open government; and they must pursue and share aware, clear, honest, competent, creative, kind and joyful thought and action; or they will be voted out of office.

In this way representative democracies reward honest, clear, accurate, competent, actually-helpful thoughts and actions – rather than rewarding cronyism, “the ends justify the means”, secret deals for private and/or political gain, and other dishonest, confused, and unloving capitulations to power, dogmatism, money, and status.

And by preserving representative democracy, citizens preserve their ability to seek wisdom in their own ways and to share power meaningfully with leaders and fellow-citizens alike (meaningful because we are all publicly agreeing on the fundamental values without which none of our thoughts/actions are meaningful to any of us).

Winning is not the point of life. The point of life is how you play the game. That’s the beauty of an open and free representative democracy: it is a political system built not around winning and losing, but around a fair, open exchange of ideas and together discovering true win-wins / what is truly-best for everyone.

If the game of representative democracy is played fairly, we all win. If the game is corrupted, the willingness to lie and to hurt others for private gain is rewarded, while honest, open, transparent discussion and public service are punished. To the degree this happens, we all lose. If a representative democracy reaches a tipping point and the people can no longer effectively intervene on the behalf of accuracy, fairness and sanity, the situation becomes untenable – materially, mentally, and spiritually.

5.
The reason we have a representative democracy and not a pure democracy is that the citizens in a nation state cannot devote adequate time and energy to the various government decisions and the intricacies of legislation, enforcement, and judicial interpretation.

What we citizens can do is pay enough attention to the overall process of government to make well-informed and -considered votes for our representatives. We can bestow power on those who protect the health of our representative democracy. We can elect officials who help keep our government’s decision-making process transparent, clear, honest, well-informed & -reasoned, and grounded in the understanding that we are all in this together. We can demand our representatives enforce rules and norms of power-sharing and fair-play. We can give our support to anti-corruption measures (safeguard elections, stop bribery and other quid pro quos, insulate bureaucracy from politics, etc). We can remove from power those who are dishonest, unkind, incompetent, or unwise (our rulers should think and act aware, clear, honest, and gentle/selfless; they should be qualified for the jobs they are given; they should not give into anger, pride, clubbishness, fanaticism, and the like).

That’s a big task. It requires us to understand the basic workings of our government in theory and contemporary practice, to maintain some insight into the ever-evolving threats to our representative democracy, and to pay attention to both how our politicians communicate — do they think and speak clear, honest, open? Do they discuss ideas in a spirit of good-will and fair-play? — AND what they do — how do they vote? Why? In whose interest are they acting? Do they prioritize the rules and norms of power-sharing and fair-play, or do they sacrifice these rules and norms for the sake of gaining and/or holding power? — .

6.
Maintaining an overall understanding of our government and the major political decisions of our day and serving as a check on corruption and madness within the body politic is quite a bit to ask of us.

You see: What we mostly want to do is follow our little big dreams, love and support our families, hang out with friends, go on fun trips, and relax in the sweet sunlit air.

We kind of like politics, but part of what we like is being right and agreeing with our friends, and otherwise sinning against our individual and collective spirits. Sometimes we even egotrip, fancypants, and lalaland to the point that our political engagement encourages those very evils we’re charged with removing.

7.
To best help our representative democracy create and maintain an environment of effective collaboration, we must demand those norms that, by being truly meaningful to human beings, allow for individual and collective progress:

Aware, clear, honest, competent, kind, selfless, joyful, glad to know one another.

Without adopting and gaining true insight into these fundamental spiritual values, none of our worldviews can mean anything to any of us. Without insight into these values, our own thoughts and feelings are meaningless to us: we cannot follow, care about, or believe in our own thoughts and feelings.

Therefore, our only hope for collective progress is to agree upon and safeguard those universal values without which no conversation is meaningful within a human conscious moment or between human conscious moments.

For us individual citizens to best fulfill this duty, we should work to gain more insight into those values. It is not enough to agree to and clap for those words (“aware”, … ). Those words are meaningful to individuals to the degree that they have whole-being — ideas and feelings centered around and relating meaningfully to the Light within — insight into them.

The universal values are meaningful to groups to the degree the individual members protect the norms, rules, and institutions designed to protect and prioritize those values while respecting, caring for and nourishing each other. We can test how well we are following the values by watching how we allocate and share power, how we treat one another and our shared resources, how we listen and speak. This is because the universal values imply and are implied by the fundamental insight that we are all equal participants in the Light — that we are all in this together, and that we should respect and be glad of and kind to one another.

We’ll never get it perfect. And cynicism is just as nihilistic as blind faith: both prefer impressive feelings over actively engaging with the moment. What we must do is work as individuals and groups to gain more active insight into that and in what sense it is True to say, “we are all in this together.”

So we work as individuals and within small groups to grow our whole-being insight into the gentle Light within that alone Knows what is truly going on and what really matters; the Light that alone understands that and in what way it is True to say we are all in this together; the Light that ratifies and explicates the universal values (aware, clear … glad to know one another); the gentle Light.

And we work as larger, more formal groups to safeguard the rules, norms, power structures, and institutions that encourage aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, joyful sharing and thus allow for meaningful communication within and between individual human conscious moments.

8.
The Light is prior to human feelings, ideas, words, and deeds. No dogma can contain It.

We do not best serve the Light by giving It a name and demanding everyone bow to that name.

The Light shining within and through all things is within each human conscious moment. It is our most fundamental knowledge. We know It more fundamentally than we know our various doubts about It and explications of It. We can therefore point towards It poetically (similar to how we can give a poetic description of our experience of a beautiful sunset with a loved one at our side): It is a limitless, knowing, effective Pure Love that infinitely joy-nuzzles and love-lifts everything and everyone (like in a sunset/love poem, such poetic descriptions of the Light are meaningful to all human beings because we all share the same basic vistas/experiences [and, in the case of Pure Love, we all share this same fundamental vista/experience]).

But to the degree we pretend we can have literal/definitive/1:1 knowledge of the Light within and through all things, we shift our focus onto our own ideas and feelings, and thus distract ourselves from engagement within the Light. Under the spell of such daydreams, we as individuals get caught up in ideas and feelings that claim to be the Truth, thereby losing traction in our whole-being organization around the Truth; and we as groups encentivize lying to ourselves and others about our insight into the Truth / respect for the dogmas of the day. A forced faith is a misunderstood faith is no faith at all.

We can keep the Light and the values It endorses and illuminates at the center of our individual and collective endeavors by working together in the way It calls us to: aware, clear, honest, competent, kind, selfless, joyful, glad to know one another. We can grow alone and together in the Light by sharing, preserving, and working with those visible tools of Its ineffable wisdom.

This is the beauty of representative democracy and of separation of church and state: They create a spiritually healthy space and call upon each citizen to seek their own and the community’s spiritual health.

In an open and transparent representative democracy with safeguards for free speech, freedom of religious choice, and separations between church and state, politicians cannot hide behind dogmas that they pretend to understand, but must actually walk the spiritual walk: they must stand out in the open and think and act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, and joyfully collaborating/sharing/exploring/creating. Otherwise, the voters — who are carefully watching with steady hearts and minds — will have to ask them to leave office.

9.
We shouldn’t be dupes.
There are strands of folly in all of us and sometimes people and situations get so swept up in follies that they lack adequate meaningful engagement with the Light within. And they harm themselves and others.

We should understand that we are all humans and that no one’s perfect and that pretending some people are terrible and others are wonderful is a good way to blind ourselves to what is really going on and thus (ironically enough) end up dupes.

However, we should notice when people are breaking the rules of representative democracy and the universal values that underpin the appeal and effectiveness of representative democracies. And we should remove them from office.

We can’t see anyone’s soul.
We aren’t here to judge souls.
We don’t need to do that, and pretending we can tempts voters and politicians alike to lie about the most sacred things (ie: about one’s insight into and understanding of the Light within that alone Knows anything, and which one can organize one’s ideas and feelings around better or worse, but which — being infinite — one cannot literally/definitively/1:1 understand).

What we need to do is what we can do:
Support and enforce rules that prefer transparency, clarity, and honesty over shadow-sneaking, obfuscation, and dishonesty.
And remove incompetent, dishonest, confused, corrupt, unkind, unfair and foolhardy behavior from office.
By demanding that we ourselves and our government representatives respect and adhere to these standards, we create an atmosphere where we can together work within those universal values without which none of our worldviews can mean anything to any of us.
We create a safe space for individual and shared meaningfulness, and thus for individual and collective growth and good decision-making.

We don’t vote out of rage, or to imply that some people are inferior.
We vote politicians out of office when they are being unhelpful.
We are all ever-evolving flows of better and worse impulses.
As individuals we must better and better organize our ideas and feelings around the Light within so we flow towards better and better thinking and acting (which includes further improving how we organize our thinking and feeling around the Light).
As groups we must better and better organize ourselves and our managerial structures so that our shared thinking and acting is better and better wedded to our shared universal values: aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, generous, together, joyful, grateful: that’s why we must focus always on the form of representative democracy: by prizing transparency, honesty, accuracy, competency, and fair play we improve our ability to collaborate meaningfully together while encentivizing individual and group spiritual health (and we de-encentivize spiritually unhealthy and destructive behavior like corruption, dishonesty and blind dogmatism).

Donald J. Trump is just another mortal.
We cannot hate or despise him.
We must love him and everyone equally, in the indifferent joyful laughter with which God cuddles us all.
But Donald Trump does not understand the good of a representative democracy, and he is undermining our representative democracy.
We should therefore remove him from office and enact legislation to restore and safeguard our democratic norms and institutions.

10.
Everything is temporary.
We are all evolving and when we die we all learn things we did not here guess.

We as citizens should preserve and grow the awareness, clarity, honesty, competency, kindness, win-win, and joyful togetherness of our shared government.

To do that we must make it clear to all politicians that we don’t think the ends justify the means.
We must make it clear that we care more about the norms and rules of our government than about momentary political victories.
Because what we most fundamentally need and want is a government that works for everyone, and that is won by prioritizing honesty, transparency, fair play, and shared joy.

Author: Captain John Terrible
Editors: Bartleby Willard & Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew Mackenzie Watson

This is a Something Deeperism essay.
The Something Deeperism Institute tab has some introductory essays. Those essays are also included in First Essays & A Readable Reader.
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