Independence week: Why are we failing?

We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training. Archilochus

Our founding fathers set great expectations.

In the Declaration of Independence, they stated that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they’re endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Additionally, in the Constitution, they say that ‘We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Then, further clarification in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the constitution, a further list of what the people can expect from the government.

These three founding documents identify many expectations.

  1. All men are created equal.
  2. Our government is founded to serve “We the People.”
  3. Free to practice our religious beliefs.
  4. Right to free speech and press.
  5. Right to bear arms.
  6. No unlawful search and seizure.
  7. No double indemnity.
  8. Right to a speedy trial.
  9. Bail and fines must be reasonable.

The quote from Archilochus may explain a lot about our current democracy.

What grade would you give us? I suspect at best we get a “c”.

We have a long way to go to get past the beliefs we have been taught growing up. Think about what we were taught growing up; some people were inferior and not equal. The effect of our historic tribal social structure continues to haunt us. We are against them.

Our training is deeply ingrained and is founded on the dualism of Plato, Aristotle, and other early philosophers. We have been brought up on those stories and myths of the hero’s journey where the hero wins over all odds. A myth that feeds directly into the dualism philosophy. How do we overcome this?

Overcoming our training to meet expectations.

The first thing we have to realize is that it’s possible to overcome our training and build a framework through which we view the world that will lead us eventually to meet the expectations in our founding documents.

  1. First, you have to review your thoughts and actions each day to see where you gave in to your old training.
  2. Train your mind to stop this action and respond in a way that meets our expectations of what we want in our country.
  3. Speak out when you see injustice and inequality.
  4. Remember everything starts with you.

Will things change overnight, I doubt it? But as we shine the light on them, they will slowly change. It took over 180 years for the racial view of those in the south to start to change.

Let’s Add One More Item to Consider — Context

Is the context of the founding documents the same as the context of our lives today? Obviously not. Does this mean or should this mean that the documents should change or be interpreted considering today’s context? Certainly “the right to bear arms people” don’t think so. They want it to be interpreted very strictly although times are radically different today.

For me, I think we, all the people, have a right to be safe, and the minority who want to own guns should be held accountable for keeping them away from those who don’t know how to own them.

To remain independent and continue our celebration of “Independence Day” will require a lot of soul-searching and finding common ground between all the positions. Thoughtful discourse must move us forward.

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