Friday, February 28, 2014

Collaborative Autonomy ed 4/29/16

Note: Beginning today, I am going to note revisions by striking old text and putting the new in brackets [] the first time it happens in the essay, because often old text remains valid. I will not preserve words in old titles, in this case, "cooperative," which tacitly can imply agreement by submission, whereas I use "collaboration" to imply reaching an agreement "C" that is better than one party's idea "A" and the other party's idea "B", yet C can correspond to or equal either B or A. I regret not having taken this measure beforehand. PRB. 4/29/16.
                The wonder of being a human being is that no matter what tyranny you may suffer, you can grow moral excellence. The beauty is that a human is comprised of body and mind that sustains a person. The body and mind were conceived by father and mother and gestated in the mother’s womb. The mother delivered a person, and the person, aware or not, struggles to discover self. It is a life-long process, and each person has duty to self to reach their personal maximum psychological maturity. Sometimes, the only way to freedom is to walk away, but not all citizens can do that.
                The next several paragraphs are about some of the experience that led me to study the preamble continually over the past eighteen years. Readers may skip to the paragraph before "Autonomy" for the principle message.
Why civic governance by just citizens?
                I did not know it then, but my attraction to my bride is that she is the most cooperatively [collaboratively] autonomous person I have ever known. If I had not known her, I would never have written this essay about collaborative autonomy for each citizen [civic person].
                Yet, now that I am aware of the concept, it seems my person is collaboratively  autonomous, too. I return her cooperation. Moreover, I discovered that I have always trusted and committed to the objective truth much of which is unknown [of which most is undiscovered but some is understood], but the understanding to express my faith [trust and commitment] is new. Nevertheless, it was evident when I read on the last page of my parents’ scripture book [Bible]:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
I thought that whatever controls what-is, [if an intellect,] would not need to threaten readers and so the book was merely part of ancient literature. Yet, I cooperated in the attempt to persuade my person to accept the mysteries in that book, until I discovered that my mysteries contradicted the mysteries my bride held from the same book [but] with different inculcation. Unwilling to challenge her mysteries, I relinquished mine and unlocked decades-old faith [trust] in the objective truth. Without partnership with my bride, I might never have discovered my person. The reader may wonder how such a partnership survives.
                It seems that both parties are humble about their differing faith [or trust]. The bride asserts that her faith admits to mysteries: the particulars cannot be explained, and that is why they are called “mysteries.” Nevertheless, her faith sustains her each day and comforts her for the uncertainties, threats, pain, and losses that life inevitably brings. I've seen it; felt it; cried it. When there is tragedy and sorrow to bear, I want my bride by my side. Perhaps she still wishes I was [could have become] Louisiana French Catholic, but says she is glad to have the discovered Phil Beaver. [Each time I write this I ask her a question to get confirmation of my opinion.]
                The groom accepts that he does not know what he does not know; mysteries hinder him. He thinks that in his afterdeath, he will become dust and any accomplishments [during life] yet he accepts that his person may survive death and be judged by Jesus. He will not share his preparation for that possibility, because he does not want anyone to mimic what may be a mistake; he does not know. He only has faith [trust and commitment] to rely on. Perhaps this bride and groom is an example of mutual humility in collaborative autonomy.
                Through my bride, I have learned to offer humility to other people, no matter what their status in life, and especially to fellow citizens, most especially those who offer peace, no matter where they are [on their path] and how far they have progressed on their path toward psychological maturity. Professor Orlando Patterson said,
. . . that people are free to do as they please within limits set only by the personal freedom of oth­ers; that legally all persons are equal before the law; that philo­sophically the individual's separate existence is inviolable; that psychologically the ultimate human condition is to be liberated from all internal and external constraints in one's desire to realize one's self.
Many points in this wonderful opinion pertain to this essay, but I want to emphasize the last thought:  “psychologically . . . liberated . . . self.” Patterson spoke about ultimate freedom. I appreciate every person’s quest for freedom from internal and external coercion, force, and oppression.
                Such freedom is expressed by Huckleberry Finn, when he debates either reporting escaped slave Jim or facing Sunday-school threat and declares, “All right, then, I'll go to hell.” Mind-change often takes drastic experience like experiencing the friendship of an American slave in the 19th century. If any of the Tennessee Protestant women I courted had wanted me, I would not have met the woman whom I would not change for anything and would probably never have discovered myself:  a person with trust and commitment to the objective truth of which much is undiscovered and some is understood. But I am deliberate (or slow) about such matters.              
                 It would not surprise me if some seventy million Americans have similar faiths trust and commitment; if so, about 22% of Americans live under the oppression of theism, particularly Christianity. I do not want Christians to stop being Christians; I just want them to bring civic issues to the civic table in civic terms and thereby appreciate non-theist citizens of the United States of America. In so doing, they would liberate themselves for civic duty and service. As it is, they are not free. I came to this conclusion after I had dropped out of religion and turned to study Mom and Dad's book to literature about my citizenship for refuge, only to understand that popular citizenship requires theism, in particular, Christianity.
                I have been writing letters to the editor for nearly twenty years, always trying to suggest ways for citizens to support each other. During those years I was also reading and commenting on non-fiction books and articles to increase my understanding of civic division. For example, on April 8, 1996, the Advocate’s editor captioned my letter, “Focus on Abdul-Rauf’s courage.” These old sentences are precious to my eyes:
Islam appeals to him because it does not see color or race. He is only 27 years old. Maybe he is telling America that religious intolerance is oppressive. Can America outgrow more than 376 years of religious intolerance? Can America accept religious freedom as a mere subset of freedom of thought?
Mahoud Abdul-Rauf is an exemplary human being who should have been embraced by America. Instead, he may have walked away to freedom unavailable in America. Not everyone born in a country can leave it, so citizens need to appreciate each other while we are alive. Most citizens can be collaboratively autonomous.

                Autonomy: Synonyms include freedom, liberty, sovereignty, self-rule, self-governance, and self-determination. Humans are born into a contradictory world that harbors many predators:  religion, sex, guns, drugs, alcohol, TV, computer games, and entertainment, to name a few. Typical newborns are motivated yet innocent and many learn to be gullible, indolent, and dependent. However, a few discover learning, comprehending, and understanding and therefore become self-determinant as they approach and enter adulthood.
                The gap between birth and cooperative autonomy is astonishing, and only a human being (no other mammal) can fill it. Yet only a few do. There are so many examples of people who filled it magnificently, their way:  Steve Jobs, Barry Manilow, Thomas Sowell, and Abraham Lincoln come to mind for reasons I don’t understand, but you have already thought of examples. Collaborative autonomy comes before psychological maturity.
But psychological maturity is not a goal of the education system. Most authority for action comes at designated age:  voting and military service at 18, drinking alcohol at 21, cheaper auto insurance at 25, run for Congress at 25 or 30 (Senate), and run for President at 35. I entreat readers to inform me better than H. A. Overstreet, The Mature Mind, 1949: The newborn is ignorant, irresponsible, inarticulate, sexually diffuse, and self-centered, in a contradictory world. On January 21, 2013, President Obama said, “A modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.” No thought of educating children in how to become mature adults! America is losing children to sex, drugs, guns, and entertainment before they reach young adulthood. Teachers innocently purport to know what they don’t really know, and students must discover on their own their need to understand the objective truth. Education should focus on the child, not the worker, and collaborative autonomy should be the goal.
In collaborative autonomy, the child does not allow anyone to persuade him/her to deviate from the personal goal to understand enough of what is unknown (for example, after an auto wreck ten live witnesses relate ten different stories) to choose a life-path that maintains autonomy. Then experience leads to deeper understanding so that choices become personal. Sometimes the person must change paths to aid discovery of the person inside their mind and body. In a simple example, a person must taste the different chocolates to prioritize them, as I have:  dark preferred, milk tolerated, and white avoided. Perhaps the noblest human contract is monogamy for life; a person may enter the contract, compromise it, and damage his/her self-respect. Often the other party is permanently alienated. There are much worse bears and snakes waiting to ruin lives; for example, progression into drugs has brought an epidemic of heroine deaths to this country and CDC reports 110 million reported sexually transmitted diseases in 2010 with 20 million new cases each year, primarily among the youth.
Civic Maturity
                “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble did not ratify the “Constitution for the United States of America” for governance by trained workers or egocentric or apathetic or indolent persons. The Constitution is designed for informed citizens, but the Federalist Papers seem to assert that noble leaders will protect the people from themselves. How noble leaders were to be assured [provided] is not clear. However, what seems evident after 227 years is, “Sorry, folks of 2014 2016, but the 1787 signers created yet another unintended consequence to add to the list of our mistakes.” The slightest of those mistakes is the fancy font for “We the People” overshadowing the rest of the phrase:  “of the United States.” Far worse is the self-fulfilling assumption that this world’s most outstanding people’s republic does not empower most citizens to govern themselves justly. The preamble has been misinterpreted as authorizing "we, the people."
                Cooperatively autonomous citizens of 2016 have plenty of evidence to justify re-examination of the preamble:  it, perhaps unintentionally, refutes the claim by James Madison that most people require coercion and force to assure good behavior. The seven [nine] civic goals invoke self-governance. “We the People of the United States,” invokes governance of each state by its citizens. “Do ordain and establish,” invokes governance of the union of states, the federal government. Thus, that one sentence specifies governance of self, one’s state, and the federal government.
                Each time I consider whether or not our regimes of government have intentionally enslaved some eight generations of “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble to be “the workers we need,” I think of Machiavelli, 1513, The Prince:  We are enslaved by design. However, coerced enslavement can be over, because the idea that the preamble offers just governance by justly governed citizens has been published. If the enslavement continues, it is the fault of the citizens. It is and has been up to collaboratively autonomous citizens to fulfill the preamble:  America's future is in our hands.
Copyright©2014 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised April 29, 2016