Thursday, March 23, 2006

Undertows worsen with society's changing tides

(Posted March 11; please add comments below)
Like many conservatives, I have concerns about the changing tides in society. I'm philosophical that times change and people come to value different priorities, but when the core values of society are eroded by those in positions to shape opinions, I think it is worth speaking up.

Here are three dangerous undertows that I think are worsening.
1. "Mother Earth" replaces "God of the Universe". Public figures say that Earth would be better off without people, and there is no immediate objection or derision from the general public.
2. "What's best for me?" replaces "What's right?". Arguments over public policy are won based on individual convenience/utility rather than societal good and time-tested principles, and the mere use of principle in debates provokes ad hominem attacks.
3. "Victimhood" is exalted above "self-sufficiency". Politicians win elections based on how they will enable victims more effectively; courts support them with rulings separating people from the painful consequences of their own free choices.

I will be expanding on these themes in this blog over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I welcome your comments about these three undertows, and suggestions about one or two more that belong in the list.


Anonymous said...

You right-wingers are pretty simple-minded. If there's no Earth, then where are you going to live? If it's BAD for me, why would I support it? And if you've oppressed me and you have all the power, what gives you the right to try to shut me up?

Come to think of it, you're cruel too.

DJeffery said...

Lacking individuality, distinction, or recognizability: What in his statement would exclude an earth? You might support something because of the Roman concept of citizenship, sacrifice or leadership rather than YOU and YOU alone. True victims obviously have grievances, but too often in our Oprah culture everyone gets to be a victim.

Halfwise said...

Djeffery - Nice definition of 'anonymous'.

The Invisible Hand of Adam Smith makes lots of good things happen, and we get into trouble when some well-meaning intervention distorts the market. So acting in our self-interest is a good thing. But Anonymous, don't you see that our society today is founded on a history of people choosing principle over convenience, and great causes over complacency?

I think that we increasingly claim freedom without responsibility.

Halfwise said...

The self is an endless vortex. This applies to nations as it does to individuals.

If we want to grow - morally, spiritually, ethically - we have to look outside ourselves, to see where we can be of service. A culture of victimhood is a culture that is always looking inward. If we are to help others towards self-sufficiency, we should do it by leading by example. Prime Minister Harper has us pointed in the right direction, and gathering speed, by recognizing the importance of our mission in Afghanistan.

Halfwise said...

I think people prefer to worship Mother Nature, and offer enormous sacrifices to placate her (eg Kyoto) because Mother Nature's moral demands on our behaviour are trivial compared to a God with 10 Commandments and a whole Book of expectations. With Mother Nature, we get a little bit of guilt (but not TOO much) and we can change little things about our own behaviour and immediately feel superior to those around us. I have found God, on the other hand, to have higher standards, to offer us a means to achieve them more consistently, and to offer forgiveness when we inevitably fail. This is far more complex than taking the bus to work and recycling the can that the tomato soup came in...

Halfwise said...

There's a philosopher and management consultant named Peter Koestenbaum who expounds on two great themes - Total Freedom and Total Accountability.

I am free to do anything I choose, but everything I have done is a result of my choice, whether or not I was aware of choosing. And I must take complete accountability for the outcomes of my choices, even though others might want to relieve me of that accountability.

Our society shrinks away from both Freedom and Accountability. Are we worse off because of this?