Common

The common man. Is there such a thing any more? Is there a certain basis on which the values, actions, and lifestyles of the mass of society can be judged? It interests me to see that the idea of a commonly bonding philosophy or shared ideal continues to decline. Multiculturalism, the much-lauded, mixed blessing of the modern world tells us that diversity is to be praised as a hallmark of a strong society. But is this truly the case? Is there such a thing as too diverse?

In the founding years of our nation, immigrants from the world over flocked to a land where they could be free of religious persecution, Old World prejudices, and dead end lives. America represented a shining beacon of opportunity. These people brought with them the cultures of dozens of nations. Naturally these people groups came into conflict with one another. This conflict was the natural expression of racial and cultural differences, and seeped into government because, after all, the government was run by these same people.

Yet they had a respect and commonly held belief in at least a few things. The exceptionalism of America and the freedom to do as you saw fit to name a few. Though different and sometimes at odds with one another, over time they unified and formed the amalgam of culture that is America. Thus the great melting pot analogy was born.

But today you see the purposeful division of groups of people by none other than the social institutions, federal government, and corporate entities that claim to protect them.  The natural integration of society is halted for the purposes of vote buying, victimizing, and marketing. By promoting this idea that people are defined by their race, creed, cultural background, sexual orientation, gender,etc. society as a whole has sharpened the conflicts between these groups. There is no room any more for the idea of the common person. There is no longer anything to be held in commonality among each other!

While I know that this post is more political than my usual fare, I just felt like I needed to get this out. Any comments or thoughts on this subject are appreciated! Do you find that there are values or concepts that you hold in common with people outside of your immediate family and community?

Advertisements

Culture Blindness

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indiana and his companions are searching for one of the clues that will lead them to the holy grail they go to a library and look for symbols to help them on their journey. They find two of the symbols-Roman numerals- but are stumped when searching for the numeral ten (X). It is only when Indiana looks from a higher perspective that they see that they have been standing on a giant X the entire time.

I think it is that way in society as well. Mankind is constantly looking to grow and become better, but how can we be sure that our choices and the directions we decide to go in are correct? I heard the phrase “cultural growth” recently, and although I don’t remember the source it got me thinking. What defines growth? How can one be sure that a culture is headed in the right direction and the supposed growth is not the beginnings of a cancerous tumor?

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that culture or society should remain stagnant and unchanging. Without considering other ways of doing things and integrating new ideas a nation cannot survive, especially in the modern world with its free flow of information. It is simply interesting to note how cultural critics and progressive thinkers are so positive that the changes that they seek are correct.

History can shed some light on the impact of man’s choices upon his environment. Lessons of the past inform us of mistakes in theories and actions. Without historical examples to point to, how would we even know where we stand in regards to liberty, equality, enlightened thinking, and moral standards?

However even history fails in the end. Every situation is unique; every people instilled with a different set of values and expectations. Technology and what we know about the universe is changing every day. People are deluged with a flood of conflicting information without compass or guide to determine what is true or noble. In a certain sense we are more blind now than all our ancestors were. Despite the amazing advancement the human race has undergone in the past 200 years we still can’t look beyond the present with any certainty. No one can know for certain the long term effects of daily events, and unlike Indiana Jones we cannot simply get a “better view.”

I say this not to be pessimistic, but simply as an observation. Before we commit to a course of action we should think about the consequences to ourselves, loved ones, and our fellow human beings. As only the long, backward gaze of history, and ultimately the wisdom of God can show us the right or wrong of our decisions I think we owe it to both of them to be as responsible and as careful as we can.