Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Human" and the Citizen

Much has been "thrown out" on the radio and T.V. concerning the recent immigration problem. The discussion, I think, can be boiled down to two views on what it means to be a "person", or "human" versus a citizen.

Humans are by nature social animals. A Dateline special illustrated how individuals have "herd mentalities". In an elevator where Dateline employees were told to turn with their backs to the elevator door, everyone in the "studies" mimiced the "group". People do not question, for the most part.

But, today's crisis forefronts the problem of what it means to be human! Americans are identified with certain liberties that are defined and protected by our Constitution. And lately, it seems that our government has not been forthcoming in protecting our literal boundaries, which has caused a crisis in our identified boundaries. Civil liberties have been for the most part understood to be for those that live within certain geographical borders.

Boundaries are identifiers of persons. These are various complexions of an individual's social world. And some believe that all individuals deserve rights under "natural law", these are the "humanists" and globalists. The "human" is what defines the individual. Others believe that societies construct individuals with their particular laws, which maintain distinctions and underlie a person's "real identity". These believe that the various social groups define the individual, as to identity.

The problem, as I understand it, is can a "human" be a person, as persons need social contexts to define themselves. Or do they? Does an individual understand himself apart from social groups? I think that they can. Humans are reasonable animals. We seek to rationalize our existance. This is the way we cope and understand the world.

America has understood itself to be a nation ruled by law. The Constitution defined our 'union", and protected its citizens rights. But, a Constitutional government is representative of its people. The people (identified as Americans) are warring over their right to exist apart from invasion from outsiders. These outsiders threaten society through their crime and a dissolution of boundaries which breeds fear and anxiety over their "identified way of life".

Therefore, the 'human' is the lowest denominator for identification purposes. Citizens understand themselves in more definitive ways. And those that live in civilized Western societies understand themselves as a person in his own right. Americans come to understand themselves apart from the former contexts of identification, but may choose to become identified to these social groups for other reasons.

All humans are social animals, but the social animal is not civilized without society's impact. And society's impact is not an ultimate value, as the individual himself needs to develop beyond the dependent stage on society. The individuals allowed such liberty come to understand themselves and their own values apart from the greater whole, and can come to find their own place for themselves.

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