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Two Legs to Walk, Two Wings to Fly

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The Pediment of Virtue
The Pediment of Virtue
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Earth is in peril and humanity is greatly at risk because we waited too long to take action on Climate issues, but we face many other perils that could doom the human race even sooner; including both others of our kind and the machines we have created to aid us. Humans no longer have the luxury of waiting for a savior (though we might need and welcome one), or of choosing between lesser candidates in the hope that some political figure will somehow lift us out of the sorry circumstances we find ourselves in. Many people pray for 'Peace on Earth' at this time of year, but we need to assume that a lot of the responsibility falls on our own shoulders, if we want to make it real. So I'm continuing to write with step by step instructions on how to make things better. I am not certain anyone can make things right to everyone's satisfaction, but there are plenty of ways we can improve the lot of virtually everyone alive, while allowing those who already have much to keep most of what they have, or gain more. The roadblock to this outcome is the false belief in a win-lose mentality that results in the hubris of political ideologues to preach that one flavor or another of Philosophy is so superior it outshines all the others, and guarantees success. This is rooted in beliefs that have a deep ancestry or long history, within a given culture, but the ideas I am trying to highlight have a very ancient provenance indeed.

In several previous articles; I have stressed the idea that cooperation is essential to our finding solutions to the problems of the world, sufficient to allow humanity to survive, so we need to learn how to compromise. While most are focused on reasons to favor one worldview or another; I am convinced that a lot of ideological opposition is unnecessary or counterproductive, to the extent it prevents progress and sacrifices the needs of many humans, in service of a political idealism that really benefits only a few. It matters little in today's America whether one is a Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat, because all of the politicians and pundits are heavily funded by special interests which favor one group of elites or another. This means the interests of the common man fall through the cracks while our prosperity and rights are eroded so entrenched powers of Government, Business, and the Military can have an increasingly larger share of the pie. This is abhorrent both to true Progressives and to Libertarians, who think it should be more about the individual, and how we can preserve or increase our individual rights and freedoms.

There is only one way out of this mire. We need to put aside some differences and put pressure on our politicians to favor a win-win deal or lose our support. Oddly; it is only by being less threatening to, or less threatened by, other people's ideals that we can earn the right to have our own ideals or completely hold to them. America's founding fathers clearly intended to foster a healthy debate between idealistic viewpoints, as a way to find a course of action serving the needs of all, or a larger commonwealth. But in today's political climate; that careful planning is thrown out the window in favor of a view that one is a traitor to the cause, unless the opposition party is soundly rebuked. This has to stop! It is a betrayal of the American people, and a denial of the wisdom of our founding fathers. I have seen this argument twisted to make it appear the aim of the Constitution could only be met by clinging to one party's ideal and rejecting the other. But this misses the point. When discussing how to create virtue, or to be virtuous, the ancient Greeks talked about it being a pediment resting on two columns and only supported by the presence of both. This is seen in their architecture, with the pediment being the triangular piece at the top of the arch. But one column represents too little of a given quality, a defect, while the other is too much of the same quality, an excess. To have courage; one must be cautious and bold at the same time, with neither too little boldness nor too much. And so it is with other virtues.

So the path of virtue requires us to hold a balanced view, even if our political figures, ideologues, and media pundits do not. There are defects and excesses in the platforms of both parties, so it is hard to sort out. We must rise above the divisiveness, to know there are people on the other side of the ideological split who are a lot like us. In fact; it is often true folks we would think are just like us vote for the opposing party, not the one we choose to embrace. Sometimes it is a kind of family tradition rather than a conscious choice at all, to hold certain political views, which must be embraced with an almost religious fervor to earn the favor of your own immediate family. However; this betrays the American people, because our founding fathers knew the wisdom of the common people, and their ability to know for themselves what is right. Average folks know the true meaning of virtue better than most politicians. This is forgotten by people on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats alike, who would prefer if more people bought into one version or the other, of their correct way to think about the world. People can think for themselves, though, and normal folks deal with the real world quite directly while our leaders are secluded behind layer after layer of buffers which protect them from everyday reality. We need to educate our leaders in the art of 'win-win or no deal,' therefore, and insist that they always put the American people ahead of politics.

When partisan politics becomes the paramount concern of politicians; the people suffer and the nation as a whole is weakened. The truth is in the biblical proclamation cited by Abraham Lincoln, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Two great civilizing forces are needed to keep humanity and human civilization alive, or to assure our prosperity, as I detailed in my last article. We must find the resolve within all peoples and nations, to place our common survival above the petty concerns of our political or other leaders, and come together in peace. The founding fathers of the United States of America knew that it takes two legs to walk and two wings to fly. So if our politicians claim to be for the American people; they need to show us that they understand this idea, and are willing to give our founding fathers' vision a go. If we see they assist only those who embrace their ideals or support their goals; we should know they are favoring personal gain or political idealism over the American people. Some past leaders have helped only their followers and disrespected everyone else. The world can't take much more, if we wish to keep our neighbors' respect or have respect for the Earth itself. We have run out of time, if we want to successfully avoid doomsday. Humanity missed some great opportunities to make our world more livable and avert Climate disasters, but we have faced threats we never imagined seeing - and survived. We have only come this far by working together to overcome adversity. Let's keep the founding fathers' vision alive. If we can do that, we will prevail.

 2022 Jonathan J. Dickau - all rights reserved

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Jonathan is a modern Renaissance man. He is a Grammy award-winning engineer, a performer, a writer and lecturer, and a scientific researcher. Since recording "At 89" Jonathan has worked on other projects with Pete Seeger, including a 300 song (more...)
 
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