WHAT LOVERS OF IT SUFFER
by David Eide .

America puts its greatest lovers in a perilous state from time to time. That is, what comes first the principle or the institution? If I believe in justice as a principle of life and I perceive that an institution is not just do I have an obligation to my sense of justice or to the institution? I think that is what people are called on to decide. Justice meaning, "the awarding of what is due" or, "having integrity." Integrity meaning, "entireness or wholeness- the unimpeded state of anything." That state is hardly reached except in our distant desires but nonetheless. I take all of this to mean the ability to see objectively, the ability to see a situation without subjecting it to prejudice or self-interest.

In order to have that "unimpeded state of anything" you need an institutional base from which you can structure a "whole" that is objective and therefore, out and away from your own prejudice and self-interest. You want to believe that the institutions are this way. A few times they are, regardless.

A lot depends on how much awareness exists in the people. All kinds of mechanisms are set up to publicize the problem, argue about the problem and then pressure the powers-that-be to solve the problem in some fashion. We see this every day. Sometimes the problems linger on and on and so a political movement is developed around it, sometimes the problem is ignored by the powers-that-be and the resources of those who are pointing out the problem dries up.

This certainly is not the perfect situation because it ensures that a form of injustice will be carried forward into the future. Often the process makes people grow up and get smart but other times ignorance is passed on to the next generation.

There is no real national culture or national common sense. Problems are dealt with in relation to regions and interest groups. It is assumed that the President and Congress develop a national sense of things but that hardly exists until the vast majority feel threatened by outside reality such as in World War II. Even then, no permanent culture was erected on the solidarity. There was a society erected, based on America's emergence as a world power and its need to sustain a powerful economy; and so, a competitive and fragile type of structure developed that was dismantled by the next generation. Perhaps not dismantled but it was certainly changed. The change was good for the most part but the penalty for that change was that confusion came to dominate and so the ship is stopped in the middle of a great ocean while everyone on board cannibalizes each other for the privilege of pointing it in the right direction.

Is there an overarching quality that could pull the country together? About the only one that can be seen is the desire to make as much money and surround oneself with as many baubles as is possible and so becoming hyper-sensitive about all people who you figure want to take it away.

And, quite naturally, this is one of the overarching problems since there are only so many big paying jobs, only so much capital available for financing, only so much of everything. Not only that but you have conspicuous consumption that attempts to convince people that they do not exist unless they have certain levels of material objects. And that attempts to organize the mainstream population around a life-style that celebrates the items and the fact that no one exists but those who have the item.

What that tells me is that America is now out of some unique phase of its development. It must maintain this attitude to ensure the strength of the economy and, by extension, the political strength of the nation-state. It can't change. It either maintains or declines.

About all I can do is follow my course, record everything that I can, admit when I or adjust when I see some mistake in thinking that I have made, cultivate the central organizing principle without getting corrupted in the process.

One large mistake that I see occurring among the so-called intelligent crowd: They confuse abstraction with reality. They confuse the ability, through research and techniques, to objectify anything with a sense of power over this "anything" and with the automatic response that the "anything" must be changed. This is a mania that you are greeted with early on and should be thoroughly ignored.

When the average citizen is confronted by the elites (and they are as soon as their experience tells them they are limited in their ability to know and solve the larger problems) they need to go to the original sources. Look at the subject. Look at the question the experts pose the subject. Look at the materials that they are using. Look at the conclusions. All of this is then subject to the citizen's own inquiry. To take in experts and immediately color the perception of reality with it is a bad mistake. The mistake comes when the ideas are not allowed to fully mature. They spread around a bit to find as many angles of attack as they can. But then to take the ideas and develop them into ideology or an instrument without it coming under further development is a crime against thought and is the cause of a good many problems. There is always the missing piece.

Many things should be changed. However, in a democracy change is in the hands of the populace. It is the people that need to get strengthened so that they know how to deal with ideas and knowledge and experience rather than destroyed by these things or taken away by the first strong-willed individual that comes along. And the only way that that can come about is by renewal of the core principles, renewal of the fuel cells of the culture, renewal of the sense, renewal of the language. That is uppermost. Certainly, a renewal of the sense of responsibility.

To simply attack the obvious, this is the mark of revenge. A mark that idealism has shown its obverse side.

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There are other and better truths, other and better realms than the one that is structured by politics and economics. These institutions exist out of necessity and are soon enough filled with a variety of ambition. Nonetheless, they exist and one must be in relation to them.

But, at the same time, one must never forget that there are truths and idealism and aspirations that have nothing to do with the temporary state of things. These are much more likely to take us out of the subjectivity of our own time and gives us perspective.

We must be involved in the structure of things; this is our fate. We leave the structure at a risk. And like others I am of two natures. On the one hand I desire to have as objective a view of the institutions as is possible. I want to know the best thought that is being applied to the quality of decisions. I do not want to be fooled by power but I expect it to try and convince me of its rightness. Sometimes, in relation to this structure, I am pessimistic and at other times I am optimistic. These feelings wax and wane through some mysterious process I can hardly understand. At the same time I am a man, a citizen, a political creature who must have a point of view, who must decide who is telling the truth and what exactly the truth is. I am a creature, then, compounded by the levels of relation I have with the universe of power; whether it is local, regional, national, or global. As a political creature I must act. I must show myself and what I believe in, I must be bold enough for that. I must be knowledgeable enough to keep in front of me the whole operation. I must be conscious of my experience that has shown me all kinds of life and all kinds of difficulties and opportunities, hardships and luxuries.

I have a private life. The private life entails certain responsibilities and restraints. Every action that I take can be, pushed hard enough, related to politics. I drive the freeway; the freeway is clogged with traffic. The freeway and the traffic are responsibilities of some level of government so, as I steam in the freeway traffic I am a political creature and am brought into the realm of the political universe. It is neither good nor bad. It simply needs my relation.

There are human qualities that I want to survive such as tolerance, curiosity, imagination, creativity. They too subject the political universe to certain judgments and the person and party who ensures that these qualities survive is the person and party that I will support.

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1979


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