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May 18, 2004

Societalist? Responsibilist? Consequensalist? « Social Issues »

One thing that is near and dear to me:
I want a mature society for our country. I want our society to reverse the trend toward isolation and "privacy" and regain interconnectedness. I want to restore standards of decency and conduct. But please, before you react, read what those words mean to me:

1) Mature Society -
In almost every case, I support programs which encourage self-reliance and accepting the consequences of your choices. In the same manner, I nearly always oppose programs which encourage dependence, immaturity, and allow people to escape the consequences of their own choices. As such, I oppose welfare, be it personal or corporate. I strongly advocate limiting awards in lawsuits. I oppose the current form of abortion (although I don't want it completely illegal) and advocate more restrictions on type, time limit, and circumstance. I think the current laws regarding "bankruptcy" are far too lax, as well.
In general, I feel that if the consequences of a choice don't kill you, you should have to live with it. Additionally, the main governmental intervention should be to identify the choices that might ruin your life and educate the public on those choices. Beyond that, the government should only intervene to prevent death, leaving discomfort.
For example, we have hunger in the United States. But hunger is a slippery it based on caloric intake? Nutrient intake? Number of meals? As far as I have been able to determine with internet research, no one in the United States is near it is not the government's worry. But that's just one example; I'm sure you can think of your own...
Because if you live in extreme discomfort, then you have a motivation to improve your lot, or (if it's too late for you) you serve as an example to others who might make that choice.
That doesn't mean that it is the government's main responsibility to keep everyone alive as long as possible, though. I'm talking "trauma prevention", not "old age insurance". Death comes to us all, and if you make a series of foolhardy choices, you must be allowed to life, and die, as a result of those chocies. That's freedom. That's responsibility.

2) I want our society to reverse the trend toward isolation and "privacy" and regain interconnectedness -
The most heinous crimes seem to always be committed by someone who "was always quiet, pretty much kept to himself..." I don't think that's an accident. If you feel like you are faceless, like no one knows or cares about you, you are more likely to commit atrocities, feeling safe in your anonymity. The more people you know and interact with, the more connected you are to society, the more empathy you absorb, the more you care for those around you, the more you feel someone is watching and judging your behavior. This is a good thing. There are irritations associated with it, yes, but there is also more compassion. You can tell we are an extremely rich nation, because we expect that we can and should buy our way out of the irritation caused by our fellow man. As a society, we want to be free from someone watching and judging us, we want to hole ourselves up in our private castle, our personal Fortress of Solitude. I think that's a bad thing. The more privacy we have, the more we forget the truth contained in the sentence, "Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." Every death diminishes us; every suffering hurts us. Along with getting the government out of making life easy for people, I want to get society as a whole back into helping. Sure, we never stopped having private charities...but it should be one or the other: government or private, and we know how much the government sucks at helping people. If the government encourages immaturity and dependence by meeting someone's basic needs without effort on their own part (and I believe it does), a charity at least tends to rouse a person's self-respect enough to not take advantage...and a charity has more options in dealing with a recalcitrant sluggard who won't work to meet his own needs.

3) I want to restore standards of decency and conduct -
Please understand, I am not advocating new laws of censorship or making actions illegal. I am saying that people should consider the impact of their actions more fully. I don't think we really need smoking bans...but non-smokers have a right to peace from smoke, as well, and it was a lack of standards of conduct on the part of smokers that led to it. At one time, no one would use foul language in public at all, much less around ladies or children. Now, "entertainers" have pushed the limits to the point that they regularly say "a$$" on prime-time TV. Cable television had much to do with that.

In general, I think that came from the "Me Generation" of the 70s. People stopped caring about what was good for society, or even what society thought, and started caring only for themselves. I hate to bring up "The Children" as a cause, but I wish people would stop trying to erode standards to a level that a 20-somethign can handle and start remembering that children go everywhere and see everything, and it all affects them.

What I mean is: I have no desire to close Strip Clubs or Adult Book Stores or make any aspect of homosexual behavior illegal or anything I can think of. I do object to the extreme sexualization of our society. Kids can't avoid it...can't we at least contain the most blatant aspects of sexuality away from the kids?

So what does this make me? There are some libertarian aspects (though not a lot), some Democrat, a good dose of conservative...and yet there's stuff none of them would agree with. I crave a society that values community, responsibility, self-reliance, maturity, compassion (personal, not governmental aid fueled by high taxation).

Final Note: It's impossible to sum an entire world view and life philosophy in a few paragraphs...there may be some contradictions or badly expressed thoughts or outright idiocies. My apologies, in advance. Bring them up, and we can discuss them in the comments.

Posted by Nathan at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)
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