We see things differently. This we learn some time after childhood, then continue learning it for the rest of our lives. Some are dismissive, and battle. Others obsess, becoming mired within themselves. Still others, and the majority, avoid thinking about it. We see things differently. But, having all else removed, do we experience things so differently?
We give our politicians a lot of grief, whether directly, or just secretly within ourselves or the immediate people around us. But these politicians do understand that we all see things differently. They cannot avoid it. In fact, during their rise, it is probably the most unrelenting pressure upon their minds. The more educated-ish among us give it a word: plurality. More than one. More than me. Multiple ways. Equally valid, unless they injure. And that’s where it gets tricky — what injures some, may actually help others.
You have to wonder, as a politician rises, that sea of plurality beneath them, lifting them up â€“ what is important? That they are elevated? That this subset-sea the politician represents now has a singular, unified voice in that politician? Or that somehow, by being elevated by a group of people, this politician has been given a stamp of approval upon their own, singular way of seeing the world that can now be brought to bear upon us all?
Idyllic, in a way, believing this is how we do things. But this is only one thing, in many.
Craig was a good-looking boy, raised catholic, and was a thoughtful, unusually kind person. He liked doing things with his body, playing sports, on a team. He liked his body, and other bodies. He fell in love with a man naturally, then panicked when he realized this was at odds with ideals. He fled, suppressed, and got a degree in finance and economics. He spends a good deal of his time considering the psychology of other people and how to sell things to them. He has learned well that the realities inside are subordinate to conceptual ideals and achieving the desired results. He convinces himself that this is the best thing. Simultaneously, it eats at him.
Some time ago, the concept of the corporation was granted the status of an entity, in and of itself. In doing so, a business becomes separate from the owner or controller, endowed with many of the rights and some of the obligations of an individual. Just recently, the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation has Constitutional rights, as surely as any person. An entity that does not exist, except conceptually, has the same basic rights and freedoms as any individual person. And what is the primary mandate of all corporations? To take any and all actions necessary to increase monetary profit. And what do people do?
It makes me wonder, one day could we elect corporations as our government representatives? It’s strange the news coverage now, of presidential candidates. I almost never hear what they believe about important things, what their intentions are, or what they would do differently â€“ what is truly important to them, and what they believe. What I do hear is how much money their campaign has raised.
I learn things about how pharmaceutical corporations have several lobbyists employed in Washington for every single member of Congress, and how much money this new Medicaid drug program is costing us, while we cannot even negotiate drug costs with the corporations. I learn that one of the fundamental milestones the Iraqi people must meet to prove they can survive without us, is that they give us sweeping control of their oil resources. I learn that inciting and rallying the Islamic world is worth the risk. At least, Economically. At least, Financially. After all, what is a few trillion dollars spent on a war, considering we’ll get our hands on a few trillion more in the long run? It’s profit. It’s our mandate. It’s our primary function.
So here, we have to look at something. Take Craig again, for example. He stomped down his heart so that he might conform to ideals. Religion. Economics. Finance. The things we raise up, above our own self. And this can be a very good thing, at times. It can also be a very terrible thing. How do we know?
Well, when a poet sees the things in the world, they interconnect internally â€“ they are experienced, felt, and meaning, the science of reason, becomes implied by the more generalized. When a scientist sees the things in the world, the exquisite detail is unearthed â€“ the observations leading to the science of reason primarily, and the more poetic notions become implied. Then there are the people who just want, more, with no curiosity and with no effort. This is what the corporations count on, and by degrees, what the politicians rely upon.
A few years ago I started a company with a long-time friend. I had possessed the knowledge and insight to create, he possessed the financial strength and was not bothered by working with accounting. Things were going well, and I brought in another friend to help me out building things. This friend was uncommonly insightful and devoted to â€œgoodâ€. As time passed, the financial friend continued trends of lying to and manipulating employees and eventually revealed, through ongoing deeds, with no doubt, that his control of the company was more important than the company itself, though his words spoke otherwise. I eventually became embarrassed being someone who helped run a company and find directions â€“ I became embarrassed speaking to employees that I knew had been lied to and manipulated. The friend I had brought in saw this too, and it bothered him greatly. I told him that things might become difficult, as I can’t contribute to furthering this any more, and asked if he had alternative places he might find work, to which he said yes, undoubtedly. Then, I began fighting for the employees, with this long-time friend â€“ in fact, known since kindergarten. I was met with assurances and promises, yet bad things continued to happen. Eventually I started being accused being this destructive and â€œdangerousâ€ force. I was left with a choice of destroying the company, or leaving. I chose leaving, hoping, eventually, this long-time friend would come to realize on his own where the negative forces actually were. In the back of my mind, though I never said anything, I had hoped that the friend I had brought in would leave as well, leaving the originally friend with nothing but himself to have to consider. Forcing him to confront what he had become, and was willing to do. But my other friend remained, despite his devotion to â€œgoodâ€, and used my leaving to get more money for himself. Strangely, I cannot fault him too much, because the creation was a very engaging one and even I was tempted to overlook and continue supporting the â€œbadâ€.
So then, how do we know? We want more, yes? We want â€œgoodâ€, yes? But in the terms of Economics and Finance, do we have any concept of the moral/ethical â€œgoodâ€? In terms of Religion? How about â€œmoreâ€?
A few days ago as I was walking around on Capitol Hill, I was stopped by two men at a table on the sidewalk with pamphlets. They asked me what I thought about our current political situation. It turns out they had some very good insights and I respect them greatly for being out in the public offering alternative viewpoints. They were Socialists, and had pamphlets. In fact, I gave them $1 for a newsletter they had, just to help support diversity. They seemed to like what I thought about things too, and invited me to a meeting they were having. I wasn’t really able to explain briefly how, with intellectual systems, I’m fairly well rooted in my Ivory Tower, so I just told them that I wasn’t very good with groups of people. But I see their benefit, and greatly respect what they’re doing, and I hope they do very well offering alternative ideas to people who, for the most part, stagnate in perpetuity. Such is my conceit.
Politics and political systems. Politicians. Corporations. You, and me. Our food crops moved away to foreign countries. We invade, conquer and occupy other nations until we have their resources. We want what’s good, and what’s right. We want more for ourselves. And we want to just be left alone, and not be bothered.
A few days ago I watched a Bill Moyers show on impeachment. It was a discussion between him and two intellectuals, even conservative. They seemed to agree that our politicians had no real idea about the Constitution and what it represented, and instead of respecting and protecting it, only use it as a tool when necessary. A friend who works in government joked to me the other day, when Libby’s conviction was commuted by the President, that nobody there is really bothered by it, and it’s just business as usual, worthy possibly of a lunch discussion. It is a grave mistake believing that anyone representing us is able, even if they are willing, to represent us as people. They represent Economics and Finance. They represent Religion, when it brings them more votes.
How often have we heard Economists say, just trust the market forces? The flow of money will eventually lead to what is right without us taking any action. Is this science? Is this religion? Is this more important than you, and me? Are the abstract entities, which now possess our Constitutional rights, the true American citizens?
My friends in that company I mentioned make their decisions every day. They make decisions that impact people both inside the corporation and outside. People who run corporations are compelled by law to make decisions that will only maximize the profit of the corporation. But they do not always do this â€“ sometimes they are willing to compromise the concept of â€œfiduciary responsibilityâ€ to maintain or increase their power over the corporation. Since this is the case, might it not be also a valid thing to compromise fiduciary responsibility in the interest of benefiting humanity in some way?
The actual owners of corporations, the shareholders, have little voice in corporate policy and decisions. Some shareholders, like Google, have practically no voice since their shares are a different type than the shares the executives hold. These shareholders only have fractional votes per share in comparison. Yet it seems to me, based upon how I feel when talking with people, and based upon an increasing number of scientific studies, that a growing majority of people are willing to sacrifice a little money, at least, in order to do what is ethically the right thing to do. Ethically the right thing to do, in the terms of right-ness than nearly anyone, regardless of religion, would agree upon.
I firmly believe that most of us are there. However, it takes some action on our part to bring about change, even if that action is simply to walk away. It takes speaking what is on your mind and heart, despite the perceived consequences. It takes the discipline to really look at something, and to question, where a question exists. It takes, bringing to light. It takes, moving beyond. It takes embracing something new, that, to each of us personally, isn’t anything new at all.
Â We’re currently at a turning point in history, politically.Â Money is our God, not truth, and not freedom. We absolve ourselves our any responsibility for our actions, by taking no action. However, if we as humans take no action, the turning point will be fueled by other forces more than willing to take action. I leave it to you. I’m doing what I can. And I would so much like to see just how good, good can be.