Today’s media platforms reveal that America’s three-legged democracy stool is missing its third leg. Economics and politics are alive; and the missing third leg, morality, rears its head daily. In the rear-view mirror are values, virtue, ethics, compassion, leadership, character, decency, common good, honesty, integrity, and common beliefs. Witness suppression of voting rights, COVID-19 pandemic turned political, media untruths, cyber and space warfare, infrastructure decay, inequitable wages, healthcare and childcare shortcomings, systemic racism and casts, LGBTQ rights questioned, abortion rights removed, Congressional hearings about insurrection, environmental degradation, untreated mental health, home grown terrorism, immigration overload and inhumanity, thriving white supremacy, education state-of-the art and funding deficiencies, insane gun control, deterioration of government credibility—SCOTUS, Congress, and Office of the President—and the list continues. The danger is continued and deepening division, fear, autocracy, and fascism. The opportunity is to improve common good, helping others, and caring about others; and merge and participate in interactive dialogue and collectively manifest the missing third leg of the stool, morality, or common good and caring, for America, Americans, and the globe. 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 transcend and include and not undermine the human desire to evolve and survive.
Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad offer,
Humanity has displayed great creativity in most domains, except for relationships. Most of our problems are a function of unworkable relationships between people, groups, religions, regions, and countries, and humanity’s relation with the Earth. Because killing, or the threat of it, is and has been the bottom line of power, and has given the nature of power and wealth to coalesce and expand, and given that children need lengthy nurturing, humanity has not yet constructed a social system that can sufficiently promote the general wellbeing of large populations…We need an evolutionary leap in relationships to match our extraordinary recent leaps in science and technology and the resulting juggernaut taking us we know not where. Developing our relational and social capabilities must include the global dimension by replacing traditional unlivable, authoritarian ideals with more viable pan-cultural values that can flexibly meet accelerated change. We must learn how to be global social animals at last, through deepening, exploring, and building on the untapped potential in our nature, broadening our awareness, and emotionally maturing-all of which are possible if we care enough about surviving. (357)
Simply, we all need to grow our individual and collective mindfulness, awareness, and self-restraint and put “care” into all we think, say, and do. As good leaders understand and practice, transcending, including, and evolving imply a willingness to compassionately listen to and accept those who are different and have beliefs and belief processes that are different.