Today’s media platforms reveal that America’s three-legged democracy stool is missing its third leg. Economics and politics are thriving; and the missing third leg, morality, is blatantly obvious. In the rear-view mirror are ethics, character, decency, common good, honesty, integrity, probity, rectitude, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness, values, and common beliefs. Witness suppression of voting rights, COVID-19 pandemic turned political, self-serving football, mass and social media untruths, cyber and space warfare, infrastructure decay, squabbles about the new NCAA rule that allows athletes to monetize brands, Critical Race Theory, inequitable wages, healthcare and childcare shortcomings, systemic racism and casts, LGBTQ rights questioned, environmental degradation, untreated mental health, home grown terrorism, immigration overload and inhumanity, thriving white supremacy, baseless, sickening, political gobble de guke, education state-of-the art and funding deficiencies, insane gun control, and the list continues. The danger is continued and deepening division, fear, and autocracy. The opportunity is to improve common good as individuals; and merge and participate in interactive dialogue and collectively manifest the missing third leg of the stool, morality, or common good, for America and Americans. As Jonathan Sacks offers in Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times,
Recovering liberal democratic freedom will involve emphasizing responsibilities as well as rights; shared rules, not just individual choices; caring for others as well as for ourselves; and making space not just for self-interest but also for common good. Morality is an essential feature of our human environment, as important as the market (economics) and the state (politics), but outsourceable to neither. Morality humanizes the competition for wealth and power. It is the redemption of our solitude. (20)
Authoritarianism has gotten us where we are; and unless we do something different, we will stay where we are and eventually destroy ourselves. In The Passionate Mind Revisited Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad offer “Authoritarianism has two basic traits: a person or ideology that claims to know what’s best for others; and second, the authority is unchallengeable-not open to feedback and change when shown to be wrong.” (15) If the old, traditionalist worldview wins there is little likelihood the species will survive.
Yes, it feels like the country is a mess and that post truth, and consequently mistrust, is bubbling with conspiracy, spins, lies, partial truths, and more lies! Simply unhealthy ego, work-in-process human condition and shortcomings that are offering platforms for tomorrow’s challenges, opportunities, and evolution. An analytical glance reveals a least common denominator to be polarization, nurtured by festering, unhealthy selves that unleash pain and suffering in many forms.
Meditation and collective, interactive dialogue offer a breath of evolutionary optimism and hope for Americans to have productive, interactive, authentic dialogue to build coalitions, work together, create evolutionary beliefs and values, nurture and build visions for generations of children and experience compassion as the antibiotic to confront a nasty infection. No one needs to suffer, and no one wants to suffer. We need to evolve and not undermine the human desire to survive.