America: Corporation or Society

Integrity is essential and irreplaceable. It is the most valuable asset
for a person, a company, or a society seeking to build and progress.

~Rex Tillerson~

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For several centuries America has worked to become a society in the sense of being a community with common laws and customs. We have made progress toward this ideal over the years although we have always had more to do to “form a more perfect union.” This was our goal stated in the preamble to our constitution. Our country has always had more to offer to people of wealth and power than to those less fortunate. We have had times of progress toward meeting the needs of all or citizens and times when the needs and wishes of the few outweighed the needs of the many.

We find ourselves in a time when many of the safeguards to our well­being are being dismantled piece by piece on a daily basis. Those in power act in the interest of themselves and of their powerful allies. Protection of the environment, providing for our health, provision of the basic necessities including clean air and water are now being undermined or discarded outright. Years of work to develop positive relationships with other nations is being undermined or simply cast aside. The idea of cooperation with other countries is being discarded in the interest of America first. Efforts are underway to cleanse America from immigrants whose presence and contributions made us so successful in the first place.

The Corporation Project of the Frank Bold law firm describes the purpose of a corporation first stated in the 1970’s as being to maximize shareholder value. All other goals were seen as secondary to the extent that they were considered at all. I don’t mean to suggest that all corporations are so callous. There are quite a few which have served to enrich society as well as their financial holdings. Yet the corporate culture has focused largely on short term gains with all other considerations becoming secondary at best.

In my opinion, those leading our country at present show a clear corporate mentality about our country in the sense of putting money first. The welfare of our country, our planet, our environment and our global community have all been relegated to secondary consideration with financial gain as the chief focus. In the process, wealth, resources and power become concentrated in fewer hands as the process of corporatizing America continues.

History has shown repeatedly that a course of events such as the one we find propelling us now eventually leads to revolution and overthrow of the few left at the top. Those who are there now are betting that their course will be sustainable in the near future which is their chief frame of reference rather than the greater good of all the world’s citizens which requires a much broader outlook.

Those in power will be happy to continue on their merry way as long as they are allowed to do so. We are currently seeing rumblings of a groundswell of dissent questioning the status quo which I see as unsustainable. The options are evolution of thought and mutual cooperation toward a national and global society or revolution when dissent reaches the tipping point. The choice is ours. What do you choose?

Paths to a Nonviolent America

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Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.

~Mahatma Gandhi~

Once again we are wracking our brains trying to find an effective way to combat violence in our country, most recently in our schools. Fighting anything suggests that we are approaching the issue with violent means.  We seem to forget that such approaches only add fuel to the fire.

If fighting violence is not the answer, what is? We can approach the problem in a number of ways. Most obvious is gun control. Self protection and hunting are legitimate reasons to have and use guns. Yet we do not need assault weapons for either purpose any more than we need explosive devices, armored rockets or atomic bombs in our personal possession. It is time for us to be reasonable in the degree to which we allow the use of guns in the hands of individuals. Laws about who can own what weapons and under what circumstances need to be considered in sane discussion by all of us including voters and elected representatives.

Gun rights activists are quick to point out that guns do not kill people by themselves. They are right. We also need to look at the reasons for violence. The main reason is anger boiling over in individuals who feel marginalized, beaten down and frustrated to the point that they see revenge as their only option. Responding to violence is a challenge for the rest of us.

We develop our attitudes in our family. If you are raised by angry or violent parents, chances are that you will become an angry and violent teen and adult. If everyone was raised to respect others regardless of differences, we would have a good head start toward a nonviolent society.

Another influence on our values and priorities is the example set by those leading and governing our country. An executive branch in complete disarray undermines our ability to have faith that the principles on which our country was founded will remain important. A federal government with legislators in the grip of partisan gridlock also fails to lead us anywhere positive. Both branches show us a pattern of anger rather than any sense of cooperation in our best interest. We can’t easily get either branch to change because we want them to, but we do have the option of electing individuals more responsive to our needs.

Other factors leading to anger and violence include poverty as a result of racism and discrimination, prejudice against individuals and groups, limiting their ability to benefit from the opportunities theoretically available to all of us. Discriminatory pay, unequal legal and criminal procedures, and the ability of the wealthy to buy privileges for their sole advantage also make their contribution. Again we have the option to elect people more responsive to the needs of everyone. It often seems that we have little power as individuals to change our society. Our votes are perhaps our most powerful tool. Our challenge is to learn to appreciate each other and work together to find leadership which respects all of us.