Unification News for April and May 2000
This month we’re going to look at the concept of freedom, and the unending conflict between it and social or governmental constraints. Also, the varied cultural expressions of the world’s people, and how these relate to their freedom.
This is the third in a series of articles with a ‘national’ theme. In one sense, the story of freedom is the story of humanity itself. Primitive man had no formal laws, and hence, no restrictions. Then again, he had no restraints, so for him life consisted of what Thomas Hobbes called "a war of every man against every man."
The modern Goddess worshipper’s concept of a prehistoric, ‘matriarchal’ peace is little more than a fantasy. The actual Pagan religions were diverse, and often rather bloodthirsty.
Tribal elders, and then Kings, brought order to their peoples, whether slaves or noblemen. But only with the United States did ‘rule by the consent of the governed’ become a formal reality.
From Classical Greece until today, subtle ideas have gradually increased in value, and in power. With the French Revolution, intellectual persuasion fully replaced brawn, and dimly-understood edicts, as a seminal force in human affairs.
Now, with the mass media, and spreading worldwide contacts, people are keenly aware of the differences in the culture and freedom of others.
One of the hottest issues surrounding freedom is that of ‘control’; the restraints imposed on people by their society or government.
It is well known that the ideology of modern liberalism (and the political parties that embrace it) favor widespread government controls, even over personal conduct. Even the First Amendment goes out the window when so-called ‘hate speech’ in involved! And, to handle all that regulation, taxes must always be increased.
When criticized about this, liberals are quick to point out that conservatives (and their political arms) are anxious to regulate ‘moral’ behaviors, from flag burning to partial-birth abortion. "So," liberals ask, "what’s all this talk about getting government out of our lives?"
This author has found only one clear explanation, in Lawrence Chickering’s little-known book Beyond Left and Right. (ICS Press, 1993). He describes the profound, but often unrecognized, difference between the forces of Freedom and Order. This additional split gives us four major ideological forces.
These are: the Order Left, comprising people from political correctness mavens to hard line Stalinists; the Freedom Left, ranging from relaxed ‘back to the landers’ to full-blown anarchists; the Freedom Right, encompassing ‘live and let live’ neighbors and extreme libertarians; and the Order Right, ranging from earnest Sheriffs and Preachers to puritanical ayatollah wannabes.
Understanding these divisions would add a great deal of clarity to America’s political discussions.
Everyone agrees that freedom is their preferred ideal, but it often conflicts with their desire for security, and prosperity.
As Benjamin Franklin observed, people who would give up their freedom to gain a little security, deserve -and will get- neither. In today’s America, ‘security’ includes comfort, in both a material and an emotional sense.
During the government’s recent Census 2000 ad campaign, the liberal mask really came off. These ads made a naked appeal to greed: "Fill out the form and your community will get piles of money." They even asserted that "your future depends upon" such government funds.
Worse yet, rather than simply counting people, its ‘long forms’ asked page after page of deeply intrusive, personal questions, thus angering millions of Americans. Few governments since Nazi Germany have focused so obsessively on race. (Oddly, the forms didn’t offer distinct groups such as the Basques and Arabs a category.) In any case, many folks simply penciled in ‘human race.’
Supposedly Census answers are private, but their hordes of quota-hired, temporary workers didn’t even have to be US citizens.
Of course there is another side to the ‘freedom vs. security’ debate. Scholar Francis Fukuyama observes that political freedom hasn’t always been the most efficient situation.
During the large scale, ‘steel mill’ industrialization of the early 20th Century, Stalin’s bloody coercion, and the Fascist’s detailed manipulations, did result in some rapid national advancement.
However, in today’s fast-paced Information Age, individual talents, and team flexibility, are so crucial that the government’s heavy hand can only bring ruin. Freedom pays a dollar bonus!
Even so, authoritarian societies such as Singapore continue to enjoy lower crime rates, endure fewer disruptive strikes, and use fewer outdated (but popular) industrial methods, than their recently ‘liberalized’ neighbors like South Korea.
America is freer, and wealthier, than either of those ‘Asian Tigers.’ But it endures all sorts of social ills, from rampant get-rich-quick schemes, to known, violent criminals running loose.
Each society must decide how to make these trade-offs.
Freedom continues to grow, with a few horrible exceptions like Afghanistan’s Taleban rulers. Like Catholic priests during the Dark Ages, their mullahs thrive because their subjects are largely illiterate. For instance, the Koran prescribes ‘modesty’ for women, not veils and chadors. Those are artifacts of a nomadic, Seventh Century desert culture.
Most people hope that with the spread of freedom, people and nations will join in friendship, finally leading to substantial world unity.
It is true that the modern, democratic nations have never once started a major war, certainly not against each other. (Recent attacks by NATO’s arrogant socialists will, hopefully, prove an aberration.)
So is the world moving towards unity?
Economically, cultures and nations are merging rapidly. Japan has repaid America for its ubiquitous McDonalds with a deluge of Pokémon items. Virtually every computer in the world runs America’s Windows, Unix, or Macintosh systems, and even Linux’s European creator has moved to the Silicon Valley.
Culturally, the answer is "sort of." For many years, Baywatch had been the world’s most popular television program—a more carefully crafted popularity than most of its viewers suspect. It never quite ‘crosses the line’ on many sensitive subjects.
However, in many poor nations, only their elite enjoys this emerging world culture. In Nigeria, formerly a British colony, common English is changing into an unintelligible dialect. Also, partially in reaction to American dominance, many nations are enjoying a resurgence of their traditional cultures.
Religiously, the answer is mixed. Secular commentators usually point to fundamentalist groups, and say "no." Religious observers point to large, and growing, ecumenical and cooperative efforts, and say "yes."
Echoing the Divine Principle’s description of ‘major spheres,’ futurists are redrawing world maps along the lines of ‘civilizations.’ These include the regions of: India, China, the Muslim world, the poor southern hemisphere, the prosperous West, and others.
Some futurists foresee a growing conflict between godless Global Capitalists, and fanatic Tribal Fundamentalists. The West’s elite remains certain they can build their fortunes, and their secular bridges to Utopia. But if the ‘powers that be’ act without heart or cultural understanding, this conflict may well occur. (Scholar Samuel P. Huntington describes these subjects well.)
With increasing contact, the world’s societies and nations can indulge in some (hopefully) good-natured comparisons. Asia claims to have originated all religious wisdom, with its attendant traditions of spirituality. If one includes the Middle East, this is true enough.
In contrast, Europe has offered the world a few horrible pseudo-religions such as Marxism, Satanism, and a revived Paganism.
On the other hand, Asia has never produced a free or democratic nation. India and Japan’s democracies, now warmly embraced, were imposed by their conquerors.
Neither has Asia enjoyed any widely prosperous society. Asian nations have always lived under caste systems, or other severely restrictive traditions. Imagine: in a caste society, no matter how intelligent, variously talented, or interested in a subject you may be, you must follow the one narrow path you were born into….
The diverse African societies, and Native American tribes, made some valuable but relatively minor contributions. They’ve never matched the grand traditions of Asian wisdom or European freedom. But they do have plenty of future opportunities!
The world is changing faster than ever before. Ethically and legally, the nations are holding themselves, and each other, to ever higher standards. (On paper if not always in practice.)
The Balkans, Northern Ireland, and the Middle East are finally forgiving the past—or at least saying they might.
Economically, the southern hemisphere may surpass the north’s development, and in the not too distant future. Concerning new technologies like cellular phones, they’ve already leaped ahead.
The south will soon have more Christians than the northern nations, and more spirited ones at that.
Ultimately, all of the world’s cultures must be freely expressed; without oppression, or making any threat to others (in perception or in reality).
People should, and soon will, be able to exercise a full measure of freedom. With enough unity to ensure security, and heart to see to the comfort and well-being of every person. And, of course, enough Godly understanding and conscience to make the best of all these things.
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