14) Summary

If we are to expect an individual to participate effectively in a democratic society, it is essential that the individual develop a good measure of self respect, which, of course, transfers to “character”, and responsibility. To have self respect one must like oneself. And it seems only reasonable that that sense of liking oneself is best developed from being liked and treated kindly by those around. Thus, a person who likes himself or herself, is a happy person, and a person of character who is willing to bend over backwards to honor any kind of commitment to others.

This process of being liked, and liking begins at an early age. If parents, guardians and teachers are too self-absorbed in their own interests, to provide the atmosphere favorable to this development, we must consider why this is so. And if this be the case, the finger of guilt must point to that prime suspect – the overemphasis we place on competition, and individualism, those close relatives to capitalism and free-enterprise.

The evidence indicating that Americans are failing the self-esteem test, and consequently the democratic system, is almost overwhelming. Most seem to blame the politicians rather than those who elect them. More and more Americans find less time to go to the polls. Fewer than 50% of the eligible voters participate in most elections throughout the nation. Most who do vote are poorly informed on the candidates and the issues. Less than half can give even the names of their congressman or the two senators who represent them in Washington. Money and sound bites have become the key to electoral campaigns. Seldom is an issue examined in depth.

The development of character, the nurturing of positive self-image based on trust and responsibility are apparently taking a back seat to aggressive competition in the marketplace. Rather than looking inward, and fostering personal, and human values to produce happiness, we find ourselves searching outwardly for the acquisition of materialistic things to obtain happiness. While many may recognize the futility of this effort, any attempt to change seems blocked as though under the grip of some powerful drug. Of course this is not to mean that one should never seek material comforts. It’s the degree to which one does so that matters.

As brought forth in the proceeding dialogue, human avarice is the overriding threat to the survival of the human race; perhaps all life species as well. The measure of human avarice or greed is not simply a function of genetics, or “human nature”, but it can be greatly influenced by environmental factors. The educational systems, societal rules, laws, institutions, the prevailing conventional wisdom all affect the level of greed existing, or conversely, ability of humans to understand the need for, and the means to achieve cooperation necessary to overcome today’s and tomorrow’s threats to our collective survival.

Therefore it appears to be clear that it’s time we stop blaming “human nature” for our dilemma, and as individuals undertake the responsibility to modify our pursuit of materialism and join the fight to maintain our collective survival! We must work together to reshape the network of human institutions that do shape our “human nature” For by now it should be painstakingly clear that our present “human nature” is not equipped to do battle with the powerful environmental threats posed by the encroaching Twenty-first century.

To accomplish this task, the restructuring of “human nature”, America needs leaders dedicated not simply to holding power and office, but primarily to influencing people, and effecting actual change. We have been taught that power, position, wealth, and winning is all that matters. We live in a system that molds, as well as imprisons, our minds. We are prisoners and victims of that system much the same as were the colonists under the rule of King George of England, when with the leadership of a few truly dedicated men, a successful rebellion, and revolution producing independence was accomplished.

Today a new declaration of independence is called for! It might begin: When in the course of human events a system in control of our lives is so pervasive as to result in conditions so burdensome and so intolerable we have little choice but to rise up and overthrow it. We find these truths to be self-evident:

Whereas; over-reliance on free enterprise has provided most Americans with an abundance of material comforts, we are yet left too ignorant, apathetic, selfish, and ill-equipped to function effectively in a democratic structure.

Whereas; that system has resulted in a grossly inequitable distribution of wealth.

Whereas; having been reared in our present system, many Americans have developed attitudes devoid of understanding or compassion for the “have nots” as well as simplistic, narrow-minded concepts concerning race, minorities, religion, and poverty.

Whereas; over one million Americans are presently incarcerated, and crime remains the number one concern in almost all political campaigns.

Whereas; most Americans have fallen victim to the propaganda put out that government and taxes are their mortal enemies. Whereas; the “moneyed interests” have succeeded in convincing most that quality health care for all is too costly.

Whereas; most Americans remain too intellectually anesthetized to fully comprehend the burgeoning threats to our collective survival in the coming 21st Century.

Be it now resolved; that to counter these intolerable, and deplorable conditions we shall begin with the 95% of the wealth possessed by only 5% of the people. We shall cut through all the hysteria, admonitions, excuses, and evasions, and tax that wealth to provide:

1) Decent universal health care for all citizens.

2) An allocation of at least 20%, not the present 7% of our resources (GNP) to the field of education, which comprises the backbone of our hopes for economic growth, as well as human understanding.

3) Investment (welfare, as some would call it ) to give every child an equal and fair start; to provide every senior citizen security, and to truly reconstruct the infrastructure of our cities.

Should this be accomplished, then, and perhaps only then, may we in America experience political campaigns free of negativism, racism, and fear tactics, proposing vengeful, short-sighted solutions to crime. We might then have campaigns which focus upon actual issues and real solutions rather than simply the denigration of politicians, taxes, and government.

But even well beyond that; this revolution, this massive investment in human resources, which President Clinton once proposed, but so far failed to deliver, will eventually free us of much of the alienation, and the anxieties, presently felt by many, which tend to short-circuit our attention away from dealing with our collective responsibility to counter the monumental threats facing human survival on this planet!

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