Wednesday, November 17, 2010

American Society and Individuality

"The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson's quote affirms the natural right of individual liberty, which is the basis of human rights. Our country affirmed voluntary associations in society, and was founded on the principle that kings, oligarchies, and dictatorships were immoral forms of governing humans, as to individual  liberty and conscience. The individual was what formed these voluntary associations.

Society is structured by individuals that form voluntary social networks for a particular purpose. Their goals are as diverse as the individuals that design them. So, how does one define such diversity of interests and purposes in our free society? One can't, and this is what makes America "free".

Individuals in America are valued as to their individual rights. Liberty is granted in the Bill of Rights, as to speech, assembly, civil jury trial, petition of greviances, and limits government as to search and seizure.While the individual adults have these  protections, the individual child is impacted by society and how the family protects and develops his/her "potential". Family, is therefore, an important value to/for society.

Society cannot flourish as long as families are not supportive of the child's development. Government intervention "standardizes" and demoralizes the child, and does not provide the needed encouragement for the child to excel. Parents and teachers are the only ones that can impact the child in a personal way, once the child is school aged.

Religious and academic liberty are also values in American society and has made for our culture wars. While religion has valued the family, science has challenged religion's absolutes. And this has made for uncomfortable "bed-fellows" in our social climate. The polarization has become so defining that it is hard to get a word in "edge-wise" to bring about a solution to such societal tension.

But, it has been science that has brought about the prosperity of our nation and furthered American "hope" of the American Dream. The American Dream was the fulfillment of human potential and societal flourishing. Science was America's "hope" for a better tomorrow.

Religion, on the other hand, had to re-define itself, segregate itself, or battle for the 'Bible". Such re-orientations are not about human or societal flourishing, but oppression and tyranny of a "religious class". Religious liberty, in America, was the value of individual conscience and was granted by a protection of that liberty in our First Amendment. The State had no say about individual conscience in free association of this aspect of society. One could choose whether or not one wanted such association.

American society is not a "one size fits all formula", but a vast and complex mix of minds that form a society where human value is of utmost importance and society is as varied as the individuals that formulate it.

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