MAN’S STRUGGLE TO BUILD & SUSTAIN FOUNDATIONAL VALUES
It has been recorded that primitive tribes, when a great leader or warrior died, would eat and drink from the body in an attempt to gain some of the hero’s values; bravery, wisdom, conviction. Our present day christian service of communion echoes this practice – symbolically trying to capture some of Christ’s spirit.
For centuries mankind has struggled to build a path of values through the surrounding jungle of hatred, selfishness,and greed. It almost seems that man is, by nature more attracted to the dark side. Is it the drama and excitement that is fertile soil for all our corrupt and vicious tendencies? The movement to give the ordinary man or woman an equal voice in society has been fought
for hundreds of years. Traditional religion has wandered through this jungle using benedictions from the pulpit and has failed. Now is the time for rational secular values be adopted internationally and many of man’s centuries old conflicts would become manageable. These newly focused secular values build a pathway that stops the glorification of violence and war and creates peace and an environment for business, trade and domestic life.
The Democratic path man has been working to build is a tedious slog , often two steps forward, then two back. In addition to the paths foundational materials: Honesty, Equality, Compassion, we have found additional tools to help – science, research, and communication – but there is no quick way to build an evolving democratic path. Mankind is still going through, ’THE TEENS’.
One of the difficulties with building democratic values is we encounter deep seated barriers rooted in culture, and religion. For instance, women’s reproductive rights, (a fundamental right in most modern societies), clashes with many religious beliefs. Another example again regarding women’s rights – is equal pay for equal work. The culture of capitalism has resisted this for many years as they have with government provided health care, pensions, and social assistance funding.
The common man and the common good have made headway in the last hundred years but Equality is the hardest concept to build into this path of values. Corporations, with the acquiescence of Government, wants to control every aspect of society. They believe they are the engine of progress, (money is everything) and they have entitlement.
Until the human species realizes that growth and material wealth is not the end game, completing this path of values will continue to be a battle of attrition.
I HAVE LEAD A LIFE OF SUBMISSION
Born facing many physical problems my life long struggle has been to grow, learn and be fulfilled in some way. Whether it was doctors, nurses, parents, teachers, bosses – again and again I had to submit. As a child I could not run away screaming in a purple faced tantrum; as a teen I could not flout my parents and drive my car to a drunken all night party. In sports I couldn’t bash my way into the ‘A’ team. In the workplace I was not able to bully my way to the top. In my life I have had to face acceptance of submission on the outward level but on the inner level, I fought fiercely for an individual voice. Yes we must have leaders and protocols but we all must also be given a chance to speak.
I realise that some, upon reading this first paragraph, would say – this is simply sour grapes, (poor guy – he wasn’t able to do normal things and he’s frustrated.) What I learned from my life experience has a much broader message for individuals and for society at large: submission means temporarily giving up a bit of ego but at the same time, with humility, study and imagination a person can grow to a full and intelligent maturity. And in the larger context, especially in the struggle to defend and improve democracy, we submit to group discipline that not only allows for expression of opinions but seeks out creative suggestions. Yes whatever the body; town council or National Parliament, democracy is slow moving, at times frustrating and often involves involves submission (without grievance) to the group. Fairness, patience and empathy is the humanist way to deal with conflict.
Then we have a large body of individuals who hate any hint of submission or any modification of their opinion. Usually they are healthy, young people who have great energy and enjoy fighting rules, or as a youth has lacked confidence and self-esteem. They often find themselves on the other side of conformity, (the outsider the maverick). Even into old age, for them, the very thought of ‘negotiating’ is toxic. A large number of this group are simply naysayers. They will resist whatever the majority agrees to. This pool of non-conformists also harbours the gems of society. The outstanding creative individuals who invent and explore and push back the horizons of knowledge. Unfortunately, this example of exceptional talent is rare.
Parents, from many religious beliefs and cultures have used the word ‘sharing’ as one of the most important words in the development of character at an early age. Of course sharing means one has to give up something. It is a child’s first encounter with submission. How a child relates to the idea of sharing has a lot to do with his/her growth in later life: ‘Sara, please share your dolls with Judy’. Not only does this event and it’s response affect a child’s social life but also their ability to interact and achieve success in school, business and community. In every social setting, be it a local book club, professional sport team, or a team of scientists – to submit one’s ego for the group success is an awesome and inspiring experience and should be nurtured in our future pathway.