Aside from business & family, one of the chief topics that occupies my mind is the political situation we find ourselves in.
It’s of some level of concern, as I have 4 young boys, and I’d love for them and other kids to grow up in a world they will be happy to live in.
What, if anything, can I possibly do to have any affect at all on this situation?
What a sad and sometimes ‘powerless’ inducing question.
But the truth is, we are not powerless.
We can think, and we can act.
The Core Problem, As I See It
Over a decade ago, I stopped listening to the news, for the most part.
This includes both sides of the discussion.
Mainstream for the left, and talk radio or fox news for the right.
It seemed to me that each side was preaching a consistent story, narrative or ideology.
It didn’t appear that either side was interested in asking real questions or coming up with real answers or solutions.
Jordan Peterson, love him or hate him, is a brilliant man who makes some points I think we should all consider.
He says he hates ‘ideology’ because it turns people into robots, programmed to think, speak and act in whatever way the ‘ideology’ programs them.
They become automatons.
An individual soul, buried behind hypnotized, glossed over eyes.
They don’t think and speak for themselves, asking unique questions and striving to come up with real answers, but rather regurgitate a meal that has been prepared, chewed up and shoved down their throat by someone else.
This would seem to be the very definition of being ‘programmed’ or ‘indoctrinated’.
Of this, I’m not a fan.
And even though not a fan, still a victim, as we all are, to one degree or another.
It’s worth considering the possibility that there is no ‘ideology’ sophisticated enough to give us a perfect road map for the journey ahead.
We have to learn to get beyond this and become real thinkers.
What To Think About
The political problem is a philosophical problem and it’s only hope of being solved is if we know & ask the right questions.
John Locke wrote, ‘The great question which in all ages has disturbed mankind, and brought on them the greatest part of those mischiefs which have ruined cities, depopulated countries, and disordered the peace of the world, has been, not whether there be power in the world, nor whence it came, but who should have it. ‘
From my limited study of history it seems this power, for the most part, has shifted back and forth between kings & conquerors.
Imagine what it was like to live under a king or conqueror.
Then came along the American revolutionaries and their revolutionary thinking who decided to act upon the philosophy that…
Power should be vested in the hands of the people and that they should have say and sway over how they were governed.
They believed in something called ‘Natural rights’ which, in a nutshell, are rights that all humans possess outside of any governmental system.
Many of these founders believed these ‘natural rights’ were God given, but even if you’re an atheist, you can still come to the conclusion of ‘natural rights’ via reason as Ayn Rand did.
These natural rights were meant to be recognized, defined and respected in order to protect the individual from future Kings & Conquerors, which (using history as a guide) seems to be a really good idea.
Here are 2 questions that might be good for us all to think about.
- Is there such a thing as Natural rights?
- If so, what exactly are they?
These questions lead us naturally into the next important question…
What IS the proper role of government and what limits, if any, should be placed upon it’s power?
The Wisdom To See Both Sides
As I’ve struggled with some of these questions myself, I see myself reaching philosophical problems that give me great empathy for both sides of the debate.
I think empathy and understanding are crucial if we’re to move forward in a positive constructive way.
Liberty is a ‘right’ specifically listed in the declaration of independence.
Can we define liberty?
If you were to strip away all of the extra, distracting, side issues that tend to define the ‘ideologies‘ of both the right and the left, I think we can come down to at least one core issue in the discussion.
The ‘Political right’ may say, an individual has a natural right to liberty in the extreme, (excepting crime of course).
Here’s the argument.
I as an individual, was born with a mind, a body and freedom of action.
I have a right to use my mind, my body and my action in ways that provide value to society, in return for monetary reward.
Each person has these same ‘rights’ and should be able to enjoy the fruits of his/her labors.
And on it’s face, there’s a sense of justice with this argument that appeals to any rational mind.
If I do X, I should expect the rewards of X.
If someone else doesn’t do X, they should not expect the same rewards.
Additionally, what right does anyone or group of people have to gather and use force to take away, that which has been rightfully and lawfully earned, and give it to someone else?
In one on one interactions, this would be called theft.
The person on the ‘political right’ would submit that taxation for legitimate purposes (namely those things that would be a more efficient of use of one’s natural rights) are just and proper use of governmental power.
It’s when the social programs and redistribution of wealth comes into the picture that the above argument comes to mind.
The ‘Political Left’ may say an individual must sacrifice for the good of society.
And here’s the best argument I can see for that.
People seem to be born into this world with different capacities for successful navigation in free markets.
Yes, there is much to be said about growth and work ethic.
And, there seems to be much to be said for nature.
How a person shows up in this world.
While it’s difficult, if not impossible to judge these capacities, any reasonable person can think of examples on both extremes of this ‘natural talent’ spectrum.
What should be done with the people on the lower end of the ‘natural talent’ scale?
Throw them into the water and say ‘sink or swim’?
Again, the concept of ‘justice’ comes to mind.
This doesn’t seem just, does it?
And hence the philosophical problem.
BOTH sides, seem to have a reasonable use of the concept of justice, on their side.
So what IS the proper role of Government?
This, and these are the questions we must as individuals, seek answers to as we move forward.
And plot twister, I don’t have the answers.
But at least I know the questions, and so do you.
One thing I feel I can say for certain, is that greedy politicians who suck insane amounts money out of the system for their own personal gain or personal favors to large influential friends or companies, doesn’t seem to be helping the situation.
Transparency, accountability and a sincere desire to serve the people in the best way, would seem to be a great place to begin.
And that leads us to the useful things we can do as people.
1. Become Educated
Instead of thinking you know all the answers already, while hating everyone with different answers, seek your own answers to these questions in the most sincere way you can.
Study the best books and thinkers on these topics which will require you to dig into ‘original thought’ a bit more vs. living off news bites & social media posts.
Be open to seeing and feeling the ‘other side’ and acknowledge the real concerns existing amongst people.
2. Become Involved
Make a decision to become involved where you can.
Show up to your local government meetings and observe what’s happening.
Exert your informed and well thought out influence where you can, in ways that are positive and constructive.
These are far from ultimate solutions to the problems we face as individuals and societies, but at least they’re a start.
Thanks for stopping by and whatever you do, always go for your dreams,
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