Granting space for diversity
by Mike Meyer
It’s hard to think about the problems that seem irreconcilable at the same time as we think about the power that is compelling change at all levels of human society. The conflict is between immense wealth and great moral squalor. This has become a war about the future fought on old battlefields with enemies from the past.
The battlefields are the in living rooms, neighborhoods, and minds of America. Constant confusion fogs the conflict. The nature of America is in transformation and many with the greatest anger have no idea of where the battle lines lie. Many who desperately want there to be no battles are aghast by the overturned and burning ideals and standards that are cooly announced in the daily news. It’s as if we awake to the sound of gunfire but there is nothing in the streets but people going about their day.
No one trusts the news except those who only listen to their own. But everyone waits for the network news to see if any of this is admitted. Whatever you think, if it is on the network news it must be real, somehow. And it is real but where and why and how?
This is the first great war of the 21st century and it is the first moral war in our history. We’ve become so immune to constant military conflicts that it barely matters. That it is almost always our soldiers involved is not something that we discuss or even think about. They are professionals and that’s their job. There must be reason for the fighting so wish the troops well. That is our definition of war but that’s not what is happening here.
The conflict is actually very simple. Too simple for people who are constantly immersed in lies, innuendo, virtualization, and fantasy. We expect sophisticated marketing as an essential foreplay to make things real. But the marketing somehow isn’t working anymore. That is a symptom of the real war.
This war is not about someone else’s wealth or land. It’s not about liberation although that is becoming a factor. It’s not about religion although some desperately want it to be about that. It’s about morality, respect, and our well being. Soft squishy things that we think we are too realistic to fight about. Yet this is part of a planetary conflict. Our planet may not survive this in a form that allows us to live. But that’s too big to think about.
So most people who are trying to stay out of the conflict become more and more desperate to deny it’s existence. The American mass media, itself a relic of a disappearing era, is betting on their old successes. Play for viewers by using the old names and competing words. It’s a race. Who will win? It doesn’t work because in this one we all must win or we all lose. What does it mean to lose a moral war?
This is a moral war and we have never really had one. That’s what makes it so hard. We need to learn the rules of this and what victory in a moral war actually means. This is a war against greed, selfishness, easy hatreds, tribalism, and declarations of inferiority. These are major characteristics of the human animal. We are at war with ourselves and it has come to a head in America first. Aren’t we lucky.
Can we eliminate those things from the human character? No. Can we control and limit them? That is the conflict. How do we win? By allowing all of us to win.
But most of the weapons used against these forces in the past were so entangled in the evil they were supposed to fight that they simply succumbed and became the enemy. The entanglement was the need for requirements of life, land for food, resources, materials for homes, and the struggle to survive against hunger, anger, disease, and to meet the human need for opportunity. So the battles were always for those and the moral tools were used to justify taking, defending, and denying. In the end it could all be justified as self defense against the threats to life and family.
This is the profound change that has not yet been learned by all. Competition is also a human characteristic. We compete for status, mates, and wealth. We compete simply for the chance to win. Life and death are the ultimate competition. We evolved with predominantly male fighters but now know that is not gender biology but hormonal balance that sets the role. And the taste for blood and our opponent’s dying gasp is an ancient drug and another of our deadly addictions that is only beginning to be managed.
We know all this and have learned to control it. We live in a world that is safer each year. We know the stupidity of fighting for things we don’t need. We know the planetary disaster that endless, mindless competition for more has brought down on us, our children, and grandchildren. Many of us now live long enough that we will see that disaster grow with our own aging eyes unless we stop it.
But just as our addictions drive us to maintain a supply of the drug we use. We don’t need it but, just in case we do, you can’t take it away. We will panic and kill if you try. How do we battle that? We must but not in the way we have always fought.
But there is a problem with a moral war. We are very adept at self justification and our efforts to educate ourselves have only been moderately successful. We allow other people to define our morality for us. Is it moral to kill and steal? No, but “those” people are not really human. So we’re just taking things from animals who don’t understand or appreciate our superiority. But we know this is the opposite of any basic, social morality although we may know people who think this way.
So how do we fight this war for us all to win? The old rules don’t work but the changes we have gone through and are going through have made us all wealthy in way that never existed before. There is enough for all and room for competition and opportunity, too. But accepting that we can all win is a big change.
We need to give ourselves space. Not someone else’s territory but space to run their lives with respect and recognition. To avoid the old wars we need to agree to leave and to move where we feel comfortable. We need to take diversity as our primary right. But acting against others because their life is not like yours is always wrong. If that is a problem then you need to live with others like you and it is your responsibility to find that space. It is not your right to infringe on others. You are responsible for your actions and your respect for others.
Our societies are urban by nature and more so now. We are mostly happy in urban regions. But we need to allow greater diversity in our administrative units but we must always honor there right to move. This is an ancient balance but it is not the right of a portion of the population to make laws inflicting constraints on those who think differently if those different thoughts are not intrusive to others. Ideas must not be intrusive. This is a rule of diversity. Diversity and the power of diversity is our future.