Prejudice and Virtue
Organizations are governed by individuals, and their prejudices become the policy of the organization. The top individuals of one empire attempt to impact the top levels of another empire. For example, a popular entertainer may make comments about public policy. He could be pro or anti-war, support who should be President, or even run for office. Similarly, those in government might attempt to control or censor the entertainment industry. The Red Scare and Hollywood blacklisting of the 1950's was censorship. Religious leaders and organizations have often expressed their moral objections about politics and business. It is impossible to separate individual prejudices from the cultural currents. Generically, every empire, organization and individual (myself included) claims to have some special insight on what people need to be happy. There is some truth in these positions. We need the best ideas in all three empires to be in balance.
Language presents a problem because the same labels are sometimes used interchangeably, though they mean different things. The word liberty is a good example, but there are many others that can be viewed pejoratively. Some define freedom as unbridled capitalism, where others see unbridled capitalism as fascism, and the strong abusing the weak. Freedom is believed to be the ability of the good to limit the hand of the evil. People have different expectations of government, church and business. They all see their hand as the good hand, and all who impede them as the evil hand. When a church leader, political leader or business leader complain about the actions or choices of one another, that is the model in action.
There are multiple hands at work. In religion, there is the hand of God. In economics, there is the invisible hand of capitalism, as suggested by Adam Smith. And in politics, there is the hand of government and the voice of the people. There is too little appreciation for the hand of man in all these theories.
Everybody favors the good hand of their organization, as they have defined it. Using comparative analysis, and a set of principles, we can determine what are the best virtues for all empires, organizations and individuals.
In general, everyone has the same goal: peace and prosperity. While there is a divide between the tenor of optimists and pessimists, that should have no impact on virtue. Virtue should illuminate the best possible strategy. What is The Good must be good for all equally. The freedom to enslave others is not a freedom. Like math, virtue should balance, and be the same equation frontward and backward. It should be easy to accomplish.
What are Virtues?
Every virtue is a hybrid of thoughts, feelings and actions. For the sake of simplicity, and because of my desire to illuminate similarities and differences, it is necessary to discuss this topic using broad generalizations. The Big History model provides a good framework. In this section intellectual realms and empires are treated as equivalent
Virtue in Religion, and its Opposite
The virtue of religion is faith. More specifically, love, forgiveness, trust and preparation for the future (stewardship). The abstract realm confronts the mystery of life, delves into the big questions of right and wrong, and encourages us to think. The non-profit organizations (universities and churches) provide educations to help children enter the workforce, adulthood and the afterlife. Faith is the virtue because we must have an open mind and a trusting spirit in order to be able to learn, and, later, question. Faith and reason are not opposites, rather, they are complimentary. We have faith in others and our conclusions, which we reach through reasoning. Faith is not only about a belief in God, but faith in our fellow man. Atheists go through the same exact reasoning process as believers to reach the opposite faith conclusion. It is as difficult to prove the existence of God as his non-existence. (For the record, I believe in God. God does not fix man's problems, he fixes the man who makes the problems. This book is a part of that process).
The primary element of faith is to trust our reasoning and one another, with or without God. This overlaps with politics and economics because a community is obliged to trust, otherwise it cannot function to govern or trade. The non-profits help us to determine who, what, when, where and why we trust.The vice of religion is fear. Fear spreads mistrust, anger, revenge and condemnation. Fear is the death of faith. When power is used to punish religious infidelity, political differences, or economic challenges, that is fear being expressed. Fear can exist high or low, with or without the power to act. Fear is a mental and emotional prison that clouds our judgment. Fear is pessimistic. We fear our conclusion. When we use a lock, we are both indicating what we value and our fears. The symbol of a lock represents our fears. The valentine heart represents trust, love and faith.
Religious Virtue by Steve Consilvio
Virtue in Politics, and its Opposite
Government is the social realm. The virtue of politics is liberty. To say what we want to say and do what we want to do, and have what we need is liberty. The freedoms of self-determination, opportunity, movement, expression, and possession are all part of liberty. The vice in politics is authoritarianism, inequality or fascism. When one person or group controls another, they are unequal. Laws that divide, like the Jim Crow laws, are destructive of liberty. Legality often has a low moral standard. Laws allow stealing, predation, prejudice and many forms of injustice.
There is no universal victim. A black person may be mistreated in a white country or a white person mistreated in a black country. Similarly, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and atheists can mistreat one another in their respective spheres. Citizens can mistreat non-citizens. The rich class can mistreat the poor class, and vice-versa. The employer can abuse employees. The unions can abuse consumers. The public servants can abuse the taxpayers. Every form of prejudice can be a government policy or a cultural norm. True liberty encompasses systemic equality and requires personal responsibility, not individualistic opportunism.
Authoritarianism is systemic inequality, which grants a privilege to one group or individual to exercise power at the expense of others. When Thomas Paine described society as a blessing, and government as a necessary evil, the dividing line was how power was used, not who was using it. Slavery and Jim Crow were as unfair as monarchy or feudalism. Plutocrats practicing democracy amongst themselves is not liberty. The peace symbol represents social harmony and equality whereas the fist represents violence and inequality.