Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Accepting Just Citizenship 7/4/16


From the essay, “Cooperative Autonomy,” I repeat, “The wonder of being a human being is that no matter what tyranny you may suffer, your person can grow moral excellence.” Furthermore, no matter how low your performance may be, your person may grow wisdom, depending upon response to the moral senses, such as, humility, justice, industriousness, and collaboration. A person in the growth from infancy to maturity should be alert to sufficient understanding to choose personal preferences for life, notwithstanding expectations from caretakers or community. In other words, stop trying to fulfill the others’ dreams for you and pursue personal goals. Citizens’ lives are in their hands. However, citizens must either collaborate with fellow citizens or continue to submit to domestic force.
                Overstreet, The Mature Mind, 1949, asserts that each human emerges from the womb ignorant, irresponsible, inarticulate, sexually diffuse, and self-centered, in a contradictory world. James Q. Wilson. The Moral Sense, 1997, asserts that the typical child in a free social setting may acquire, in my interpretation, humility, appreciation, justice, collaboration, industriousness, and self-governance. However, cultures that could coach children to follow moral inclinations, instead inculcate contradictory ideologies. American citizens vie for the majority vote when they could accommodate one anthers lives.
In the evolutions of most cultures, understanding moral excellence steadily increases, and mankind’s leading performance improves as well. For example, divine human sacrifice is almost extinct. However, for each individual, the gap between morality and behavior can be immense, depending upon environment, care-giving, and the person’s responses.
                From other continents, we picture infants sitting in the dirt, a stomach bloated from malnutrition, a tear on the lower eyelid, and a fat fly drinking from the tear. Some dismiss the anguish with slogans like, “You will always have the poor,” or feel relief that such abuse does not occur nearby. However, Marci Hamilton, in Justice Denied, asserts that at least 25% of Americans have been involved in child abuse, either as victim or villain. Often, people in care-taking roles are the abusers. Something must be done to change American culture.
                Many people have written about the stages of human life. Erik Erikson described eight life stages ending at ages 1, 3, 6, 11, 18, 35, 64, and beyond; virtues, respectively, are: trust, autonomy, purpose, competence, fidelity, intimacy, contribution, and integrity. People who don’t navigate the stages have problems. Erikson seems to suggest a path of self-governance. Every child should be coached by someone familiar with these stages or better.
                Not that it’s better, James W. Fowler’s book, Stages of Faith, describes a less chronological maturing with ranges, depending upon chronology of maturing, as follows:  age 3 to 7, school-age to adolescent or adult, adolescent to adult, late adolescent to adult, usually mid life, and rare maturity. My descriptors for the stages are:  innocence, gullibility/indoctrination, conflict, encounter, resolve, and integrity/oneness. As indicated by the ranges, some persons never surpass Stage 2, gullibility/indoctrination. However, a characteristic of someone in Stage 6 is that they appreciate peaceful people in any stage at any age in any country. Probably, Mother Teresa, who is said to have claimed doubt in the Christian god just before death, reached Fowler’s Stage 6.
                In terms of self-governance, it seems many people, who live that long, progress through all of Erikson’s stages. However, some people merely accept a faith without developing it and thereby on Fowler’s scale stay in an early to mid stage throughout adulthood. Thus, many people remain in conflict against people of differing faiths. However, the end stage by both Erikson and Fowler, is a state of peace toward humankind, or collaborative authenticity, and it requires open-mindedness; psychological maturity; ultimate freedom; self-discovery.
James Q. Wilson, in The Moral Sense, Page 214 states, “As the zone of autonomous action is widened, a wider scope is allowed for the expression of men’s moral senses. As freedom to act and think within that wider scope is appreciated for the benefits it confers, people will rarely seek to return to an era of more limited choice.” This quote reminds me of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” When the cave-dweller breaks his chain of citizens and observes the world outside, he leaves the cave forever; but he cannot convince others to leave the cave. Or in William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning,” the boy, Colonel Sartoris Snopes, upon experiencing justice for the first time in his life walks into the woods, leaving family behind. It seems to me it is time for just citizens to walk away from the accumulated notion that it is right to force other citizens: In conflict of opinion, many Americans’ first idea is to sue in court. Instead, just citizens could accommodate each other while they are alive.
We may apply the differing life stages of Erikson and Fowler to the progress of this young country, by focusing on the generations of citizens. From about 1606 until 1788, about 180 years, there were only colonial residents, local citizens and subjects of their mother countries. In the Eastern seaboard above Florida, that were mostly English colonies and English loyal subjects. Beginning in 1774, upper seaboard colonists proclaimed themselves citizens of thirteen independent states under a confederacy, and in 1776 forty percent who were patriots declared independence from England. Covertly grateful to France, the thirteen independent states accepted England’s capitulation in the Treaty of Paris, 1783.
In May, 1787, delegates from twelve states met to strengthen the Articles of Confederation. According to George Washington, the purpose was to establish justice among the states and recognition abroad. Under the leadership of the Virginia delegation, signers created a citizen’s republic that begins with the phrase “We the People of the United States” and continues with the rest of the preamble. The US Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788 by the citizens of the required nine states. So far, about eight generations have subscribed to the notion that majority voters are “we, the people.” It is thought that a coalition, with a single vote can force half the population into oppression for at least one election term. The tyranny of “democracy” has brought the citizens’ republic to dysfunction over domestic force. The majority citizens seem stuck perhaps in Fowler's Stage 2.
It is time to demonstrate that only just citizens are of “We the People of the United States” as defined by the preamble. Our generation has the chance to establish for the first time on earth just civic governance by justly governed citizens. Our country is in the citizens’ hands, but just citizens must either cooperate with just citizens or continue to submit to domestic force.
If the reader has noticed that this essay has not mentioned the ethnic bread-basket that is the USA, it is not an oversight. An overarching culture of a civic people (ACP) is achievable, and establishing that culture is the objective of this blog.
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 July 4, 2016