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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Some 2016 Resolutions For Revolutionaries

It seems that chances for real change in this nation are dying quickly.  Nothing confirms that statement like our current list of presidential candidates. But indicators of how the possibility of change is rapidly diminishing can also be seen in how the last hope for change has utterly failed to bring real change. For by prosecuting more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined or  by pushing through the TPP or letting the letting the health insurance industry determine the contents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)  along with failing to criminally prosecute those responsible for the financial collapse, the last candidate promising the most change has only delivered the same old, same old.

Chances for change can be seen as dying also because we have no real organized opposition to the system. Occupy Wall Street served that purpose, but its energy began to fade when the encampments were dismantled and there has been no organized movement that has taken its place. In addition, it seems that no matter how bad things are,  not enough people seem to care enough to pay attention to what is going on let alone demand that our leaders change their ways. So below are 3 resolutions designed for those who want some kind of a nonviolent, democratic revolution to take place.

The first resolution we must make is to work not just for structural changes such as the replacing of Capitalism with a more just economic and social system, we must work to bring about a moral revolution. Such a revolution requires that we work as evangelists and convert individuals. And what we need to convert the majority of individuals to is to embrace an ethic that places a higher priority on people, especially those who are from groups other than our own, than on things. This putting a higher priority on people than things is one of the things that Martin Luther King Jr. talked about. And when talking about things, King wasn't too vague. The things King referenced when talking about people being more important were profits, gadgets, and property rights. It isn't that we shouldn't have profits, gadgets, or laws to protect the property we own. It is that when the things we want or own are more important than people, then we become thing-oriented. And our society continues to be thing-oriented, as King noted, conditions such as poverty, racism, and war will continue to persist.

This blog did publish a  blogpost stating that we should work to become a person-oriented society rather than a thing-oriented society because of what happens in the latter (click here). What this blogpost will add to what was stated in that blogpost are two things. First, regardless of what political-economic structure a society adopts, a society that is thing-oriented instead of person-oriented will eventually self-destruct. That is what we are seeing in our society today. Second, the need to change is made more urgent by how thing-oriented our current society has become. For it seems that more people are on the take now, especially those who either write or enforce our laws, than ever before. Even as voters, we often show ourselves to be on the take by voting for those candidates who promise more benefits to people like us regardless of how well off we already are. We prefer those candidates to candidates who promise to focus their attention on those worse off than ourselves.

The second necessary resolution also deals more with individuals us as individuals rather than with groups though it can apply to groups as well. That second resolution is to promise to avoid acting as the Pharisee from Jesus' parable of the two men praying(click here). In that parable Jesus tells us about two men who prayed to God. The tax-collector, one of the most hated men in society prayed as a broken man who could only beg for mercy. In contrast to that, the Pharisee thanked God that he was not a sinner like the publican. The Pharisee was not just confident that he was good enough for God to accept him, he believed that he was superior to the tax collector.

What is important in this parable for revolutionaries is to see the importance of avoiding having an attitude that allows a person to believe that they are above others. For even if we are right on  more points than our opponents, we cannot afford to believe that we are superior to them or that there is nothing we can learn from them. When we display this attitude toward our opponents, we find that we are merely imitating them for this is the attitude they have toward others.

Those who believe that they are superior don't need to listen to others. And such an attitude contradicts what democracy is about. For democracy not only encourages us to press our own demands, it challenges us to listen to others as they share their concernss with us. And nothing can make us more deaf to the concerns and ideas of others than to believe that we are superior to those talking to us. This attitude handicap cripples our hearing. Thus, we should gladly let those who believe in elite rule rather than democracy have a monopoly over feeling superior to others.

The third resolution we need to make and followup on is a corporate approach to the second resolution. That just as we should not believe that we as individuals are not better than all others, we should extend that belief to all of the groups to which we belong. The belief that one's group is superior to others is nothing more than a way of promoting tribalism. With tribalism, allegiance to one's group trumps commitment to principles so that what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom. But such a belief will only allow us to justify our group's rule over others. And in so doing, we merely maintain the current status quo despite changing the names of the elites who are in charge. We will, under tribalism, also practice an authoritarianism that leads us to listen only to those who belong to the "right" groups. This is contrary to a working democracy where all are listened to. 

The status quo currently employs an elite rule that uses tribalism to maintain its privileged position in society. For such tribalism prevents us from questioning how our society is treating those who are marginalized, those who live in the districts using Hunger Games vernacular, it keeps us from listening to those from our own society who would challenge the status quo.

In other words, if we revolutionaries really want to work for a revolution, we will believe and act differently from those who maintain the current status quo. Without that difference, our current fight is no longer against the status quo. Rather, it becomes just another exhibition of jealous rage over who is in control. And we revolutionaries should note how leaders of revolutions, even those who claim to follow our ideologies, often become like the rulers they replaced. And that is because they were thing-oriented leaders who were more concerned with their own power and prosperity than they were concerned with principles that  could serve the masses.


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