Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Civic People ed 1/16/16



                We urge a civic people to collaborate for an achievable, over-arching culture: personal liberty with civic well-being. The civic attraction is personal safety with domestic goodwill—beneficial civic connections. It seems that in 2500 years of writing in favor of personal liberty and self-governance, ideas are obfuscated by broad word-usages, like “social.” I am writing to establish the word usages that define “a civic people,” hoping to express one explicit idea that readers can improve. The idea cannot surface unless the word usages are shared so that readers may collaborate.                 "Collaborate" does not imply reaching consensus, cooperating, assimilating, or unifying, with one exception: Collaboration implies contributing to the work to establish civic morals so that people 1) comprehend when their personal pursuits are blazing new moral territory and 2) proceed only with full awareness of the responsibilities they are taking. In other words, establishing a culture of a civic people wherein moral innovators are accommodated.
The preamble
                The phrase “a civic people” derived from fifteen months collaboration by about forty people in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. We pondered the preamble to the constitution for the USA and the culture it could generate. Differing views informed the discussions. The literal preamble seems to be a civic sentence:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The subject of the sentence is “We the People of the United States.” The predicate states first a purpose--“in Order to,” then actions--“do ordain and establish.” The object is "the constitution for" the USA.
                It seems that “We the People of the Unites States” is divided between some inhabitants who ignore the preamble, and others who collaborate: the people who could and ought versus the people who can and do. We think it is critical to publicize the division, and we dub the collaborating group “A Civic People of the United States.”

Basic words used for the above stated premise
                Often, writers assume common word usage, hoping readers will understand. This writer requests the reader to lessen uncertainty by adopting key-word usages so as to explicitly comprehend this essay. I will use a reliable online dictionary to support dialogue with the reader. Thereby the reader may understand the idea, and then comment if the idea seems deficient. I am not trying to change English, but am working toward explicit expression. That being said, please adopt for this essay the definitions in bold italics that follow.
Civic
                Using the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (MW), “civic” means any “of or relating to a city or town or the people who live there,” or “of or relating to a citizen, a city, citizenship, or community affairs,” and we include a state. MW offers some examples of usage: “the library association and other civic groups” and “Voting is your civic duty.” MW does not offer synonyms, but thesaurus.com provides nine synonyms springing from “community,” including civil, national, local, municipal, urban and public. Thus, “civic” addresses persons’ affairs in their location during their lives (same space-time). “Civic” means personal connections necessitated by ineluctably shared space-time. “Ineluctably” applies because the persons neither can nor would leave the land, and “space-time” indicates simultaneous habitation. In other words, civic morals from the past may not apply for present inhabitants: civic morality improves as beneficial reality is discovered.It makes no sense for people living today to require each other to know and comprehend civic connections of citizens who lived 227 years ago or connections of today's inhabitants of Iceland, for example.

Secular, social and society
                Before we defined “civic” as respecting everyone who is living in the land, we stated that the preamble is a civic sentence. However, during my lifetime, the preamble’s reach has been suppressed by the social, religious label “secular.” MW informs “secular” means “not spiritual; of or relating to the physical world and not the spiritual world; not religious; of, relating to, or controlled by the government rather than by the church.” The preamble is not a secular sentence.[i] At most, the preamble, being civic, is areligious—takes no issue with no-harm spirituality. Secular seems a social term indicating preference for non-belief, and only by defining the referenced belief can the meaning of "secular" be conveyed. Thus, secular versus spiritual is a no-harm, social consideration. People may question my phrase "no-harm." I have no intentions to try to specify how someone's spiritual pursuits could harm other people: The possibilities are limitless. 
                 “Social” is multipurpose--having several usages: (MW)
. . . involving allies or confederates, for example, marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates; of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society; tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others or living and breeding in more or less organized communities; of, relating to, or based on rank or status in a particular society or of, relating to, or characteristic of the upper classes; being such in social situations, for example, a social drinker.
Thus, “social” may indicate anything from associates to all of humankind to only the elite. Choice, preference, or good fortune seems implied. Thus, “civic” is not synonymous with “social.”
                Many writers have addressed civic issues with the adjective “social,” unfortunately creating confusion. For example, “social class” is used to distinguish wealth versus poverty or power versus subjugation. However, the poor or oppressed do not prefer their class and would choose equality if not supremacy. Thus, their class is involuntary. The sentiment is opposite for the elite: they prefer their social class and their supremacy. By avoiding the word “social” which implies preference, we can focus on the issue of civic morality, which is critical to persons who share space-time. We must find values that would inspire, motivate, and empower both the elite and the poor to collaborate with all no-harm inhabitants. Then we may consider them collaborated civic values or the basis of civic morality.


                "Society" means the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community. In this definition, there is no connectivity requirement--only order. "Aggregate"entails the civic people, dissidents, criminals, evils, and other aliens to civic morality. When behavior is covertly harmful, there is no consequence, but when it becomes covert, the perpetrator may become subjugated to the monopoly on force or the rule of law. Negotiation of power in the social order is traditionally called "politics."
                "Civilly" means politely, and thus is a social term, defined by the people involved. Thus, a Christian, during the holiday season, might not take "Happy Holidays" as civilly stated. "Civilly" could be applicable for the culture of a civic people as well as for any other faction of people. However, to be explicit to that culture, we use the word civicaly to indicate speech and behavior that is consistent with civic morality. "Civilization" means the condition that exists when people have developed effective ways of organizing a society and care about art, science, etc. The term "effective" lends subjectivity, so civilization seems more a possibility than an activity that is enjoyed by the people. Yet, a civic people would be included in civilization.

The people
                In the articles and amendments of the constitution for the USA, “the people” cites the individuals who inhabit the country and their subjugations to both their state and the constitution for the USA, including specified rights. The intention stated in the preamble it that the people subjugate themselves to necessary civic governance. However, limits stated by the people in their states and collectively by the totality of people in the union of states are expanded only through tyranny be the people entrusted with either elected or appointed office. Some human rights are inalienable, and laws that address them are unjust; that is, there can be no just laws respecting inalienable rights--for example, the right to think or the right to independently learn. Yet individual’s rights are compromised by the constitution for the USA, in this case, the religion clauses in the First Amendment to the constitution, religion being an institution and thought being an inalienable right and duty to self.
                In contrast, the people referred to in the preamble with the modifier “We” supposedly “ordained and established” the constitution for the USA. Thus, “We the People of the United States,” is presumed to be in charge of 1) self-governance and 2) supervision of both local governments in their states and government of the union of states--the federal government. In essence, “We the People of the United States,” by civic agreement, would govern the people. This civic distinction is overlooked in a recent scholarly article, which concludes that the state peoples balance the national people,[ii] which leaves the individual out of the debate. Scholarly articles invariably support an opinion, and thus cannot be relied on as a basis for justice. Justice is not founded on opinion, even when the Supreme Court has opined, there is no bedrock for civic morality. Only a civic people can discover justice. But almost none of the people want civic responsibility, as evidenced by the fact that most people simply suffer governance. 
                Anyone who claims that "the people" rule America is lying, unless an infinite timeline is assumed. Looking at the past 227 years there is some evidence that the people are in charge, but no evidence that the goal is personal liberty with civic well-being. For example, when the USA began operation in 1789, 6% of free citizens (78 % of inhabitants, excluding slaves) could vote. In 2016, 100% of free citizens may vote. However, even mitochondrial DNA's evidence (1987) that everyone alive is kin has not solved slavery's racial tensions in the USA.                 But neither the blacks nor the whites in America are responsible for this tension. It was first a consequence of the African enslavement of Africans for worldwide marketing, the Chinese invention of guns, and subsequent 15th century papal bulls granting competition for monopolies on the African slave trade. The responsibility to resolve this very specific racial tension came to the USA when independence from England was won. Solving this problem will give America the moral grounds on which diversity can be embraced on this planet. But the federal government thrives on this racial and economic battle, the states are too subjugated by the federal administrated state, and only a civic people can resolve it.
Erosion of each individual's inalienable rights.
                Because the people do not work for civic morality, the four branches of national governance are out of control: the administration, the Congress, the courts, and the press. Practical governance has been manipulated such that only the upper class—money--is in charge, and the upper class’s squeeze on personal liberty with domestic goodwill is ever tightening. For example, all manner of associations have been granted status of “person,” diluting the power of voting. There are bedrock moral ways of recognizing factional organizations such as corporations, churches, trade groups, without considering them "person." The immoral opinion that groups can be a person conflicts the inalienable rights of the individual to act as an individual. 
                Because groups are, by opinion, granted the status of person, foreign money has direct influence on the governance of the USA. Consider, for example, foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation (google to find your favorite information source). Often the voters face selection from the candidates that the competitive upper classes have promoted, whether a worthy candidate is among them or not. The adults in the USA, through civic indolence are accumulating ruinous debt for their posterity: their children, their grandchildren, and their progeny. Only a civic people can collaborate for reform.
 
The predicate
                In the preamble, a subordinating conjunction “in order to” modifies the compound verbs "do ordain" and "establish."[iii] So, the claim is that We the People of the United States take action for a purpose. However, as we know, many people are aliens to both the action and the purpose. For example, there are criminals, institutional thieves, and evil persons among us. And many of the non-aliens have factional opinions about both the action and the purpose, diluting collaboration. Perhaps seventy percent of the people think governance should operate under theism, but no two of the 225 million people believe in the same personal god. And believers in personal gods who assemble are factional in broad categories covering perhaps four thousand brands.  But the articles in the body of the constitution for the USA would establish the organizations and institutions that would limit aliens and manage factions so as to fulfill the goals stated in the preamble: civic morality. Often, national governance conflicts with a state's governance. The intentions stated in the preamble are neglected.
                I doubt that even best friends, family members and spouses want mutual governance--that is, to govern each other: there rightly exists much subjectivity and personal preference that should be appreciated for each no-harm individual. In my case, I perceive possibilities that I do not want to impose on my family members and want them to pursue their own personal liberty with civic well-being. I was neither born with that attitude nor was taught how to practice: My family is teaching me and I perceive the possibility for my psychological maturity. Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 dream--governance of by and for the people--seems impractical. Cooperation by the people with the people happens, but only when there is agreement, and often legitimate personal preference prevent agreement. MW informs that cooperation means “the actions of someone who is being helpful by doing what is wanted or asked for.” That implies the hearer subordinating preference to the speaker's preference. Thus, cooperation seems contingent on the request, and in some cases a person would not fulfill the request.  
                Collaboration means “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” If we can identify a goal that is attractive to most people, collaboration might be possible; a culture of a civic people within the people seems a worthy goal. If so, collaboration would entail identifying the bedrock requirements for civic morality yet allowing people to responsibly pursue innovative paths, where "responsibly" means able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are [unexpected yet] required under the innovative civic morality.
Personal liberty with civic well-being
            The meaning of personal liberty seems self-evident, yet when stated using the preposition “with,” limits on liberty are implied. Civic well-being means not harming other persons in civic connections. Thus, each person attends to his or her personal pursuits, careful not to interfere with other person’s personal pursuits. Social pursuits such as avocation, professional associations, religions, sports and such are kept private and the private practices do not prevent differing, no-harm contemporary practices. Issues about private pursuits are not imposed on civic morality. We can readily see that civic collaboration is required. For example, each person must stop at red lights in order to trust green lights. A civic people develop traffic regulations which the people obey or risk subjugation to the law. Where necessary to limit aliens, a civic people maintain written laws. But private matters, like why a driver was in traffic, are not pertinent when regulations are not observed. On the "soft" side, a civic people do not lie to each other so that they can trust their statements.

The thesis
                With the above definitions, we are in a position to clarify the thesis. A civic people collaborate to establish and maintain an achievable culture: personal liberty with civic well-being. Civic well-being entails both 1) satisfaction respecting personal progress toward psychological maturity over a complete lifetime and 2) appreciation of other no-harm people's personal quest, regardless of their biological, chronological and cultural background. A civic people recognize that just as a person must earn his or her living in order to enjoy liberty, he or she must contribute to justice in order to lessen personal subjugations to the rule of law. Further, a civic people recognize that while preferential associations are the wellspring of personal pursuits, the ineluctable connectedness of inhabiting the same land during the same years demands civic morality. They maintain a culture that seeks personal safety with domestic goodwill. When injustice is discovered, the issue is candidly addressed among a civic people and resolution is negotiated--without lies; people cannot civically respond to an issue that is presented as a lie. If the resolution requires no change in the laws, it is merely communicated to society. The culture of personal liberty with civic well-being is attractive and eventually most of We the People of the United States join A Civic People of the United States; the ideal totality is approached ever so slowly. Eventually, the alien society lessens: there are fewer criminals, evils, and other people who perpetrate harm and risk subjugation to the rule of law. 

                But how does a civic people determine the bedrock civic morality and the rule of law? That's expressed with brief explanation in the 7/12/15 post: Physics offers the bedrock and a civic people discovering the values that emerge from physics establishes physics-based ethics. I will cover physics-based ethics with a focus on definitions in a separate, future essay. Note: that essay, "Opinion-based ethics  seems dysfunctional," was posted on 1/30/2016.
 

Copyright©2015 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 January 16, 2016


[i] My best effort to decry the false labelling of the preamble as “secular” may be read at http://promotethepreamble.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-people-rejects-label-secular.html . It is also a statement of opposition to the press’s monopoly on freedom of the press.
[ii] Andrew G. I. Kilberg, We the People: The Original Meaning of Popular Sovereignty, Virginia Law Review, Volume 100, Issue 5, September, 2014.