Monday, February 16, 2009

The Age of Innocence Lost?

I have been thinking about the global economic crises and about how things have been in this country, in the world, for the past 100+ years.

America has been a land of freedom, a land of people searching for that freedom. Freedom has been an expanding, vague desire that has been sought after throughout the ages.

Children seek it when they are growing up, adults seek vacations and the freedom to do what they want with their time. The desire for freedom is a powerful motivator. Yet it can lead to an undesirable end.

Frontiers men seeking freedom left the company of people and wandered off into the wild to hunt and be on their own. Did they end up lonely and unfulfilled? One might think so, but can we be sure about that. My idea and your idea about what makes us happy are intrinsically different.

Children want to grow up, to be able to make their own choices, to earn their own money. This desire isn't bad, it just is. The consequences of growing up though are deeper than they first appear.

Yet, I think that people are happier when they can make their own choice, in fact I think that no matter what the circumstance taking control of your own mindset and "choosing" brings us satisfaction.

Back to my original subject of the freedom that has been sought and is still sought. Think about this the choices of our ancestors have to a large part made us who we are today. Could they have foreseen that their excess has led to our deficiency? Can we see that today?

There was this illusion, that the great trials of human kind had been conquered, health, disease, economics, government. As I was growing up, we talked about these things in the past tense. People used to deal with plagues, people used to be enslaved, people used to die young from mysterious diseases. Antibiotics were the miracle cure, as well as immunizations.

Now it's kind of amusing, but not really, that we are worrying about these things again. People thought that poverty was on the decline and that someday soon we would solve the great dilemma of it. Homelessness was an anomaly, those homeless people, crazy right?

Well it's like someone opened a can of worms, and people are realizing that these assumptions are overly optimistic. The capitalistic economy is being questioned (although it's not really fair because it has never really been given a chance). The use of antibiotics and immunizations is questioned and even being called a folly. Even the very foundation of our government is being questioned.

It is not all fair (although I do wholeheartedly agree with the folly of overuse of antibiotics and immunizations). Why do I say that it is not all fair? Because it has not been a pure experiment, other determining factors have been introduced and continue to be introduced. In fact all of the recent tinkering with bailouts have been a deviation from the course, both of capitalism and free government.

I think it is partially an issue of control and trust. For capitalism to work without being too harsh, there has to be a measure of public charity, for when things go bad. Instead of the government stepping in to feed the poor and look after the public welfare. There has to be people who are willing to devote their time and talents (such as doctors and dentists donating their time and money) to the public welfare.

Has there ever been a group of people (politicians) who could hold back and let things work without jumping in even when they know they are going against principle? Is there any way to keep greed out of public service? Maybe we can't really expect that. Think about it, we hire these guy's to do something, what are they going to do? Something, which is make laws and tinker.

Maybe we should require a certain amount of volunteer time from the people making the laws. Give them a challenge to do something collaborative with a group of people that's really going to make a difference. Like a community garden, or health care institute.

Benjamin Franklin set up a school with a trust fund that is still in existence today. George Washington devoted his time and refused to be king. If our country could have been run by George Washington’s and Benjamin Franklins (who did have his vices), could things have turned out differently?

What if we all had the same kind of education, the same viewpoints, would things work well then? You know I think there is something to the idea of more public service minded politicians. What if, instead of thousand dollar a plate dinners to benefit campaigning, these guy's held help your neighbor nights where groups of people got together and talked about their concerns and came up with ways to meet each other's needs. . . Anyway, I guess I have gone on long enough, I didn't even know where I was going with this. What do you all think?

1 comment:

ecogrrl said...

i think the differences in this world are between those who believe in the 'it takes a village' philosophy versus 'every man for himself', the latter which has infiltrated just about everything we see. instead of generosity, there is suspicion. when someone is homeless, they are looked at with mistrust instead of empathy. today i drove by a homeless man on the freeway offramp and he wouldn't lift his eyes to look at anyone. the guts it even takes to hold up a sign and ask for help, especially for many of the older ones. there seems to be huge judgment laid down upon those less fortunate. all i think is, i'm sure when this fellow was 6 or 7 years old, he wasn't thinking this is where he would be as an old man. that's what keeps my heart softened. this economic situation we are in is really the ultimate test - will people pull together, pool their resources and talents, partner to find their way through the forest? or will they desperately scramble to take as many crumbs as they can with no thought to how others might get their share? it's definitely interesting food for thought you've brought up.

thank you, as always, for your perspectives.