Can We Create a Fair and Just Society?

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I think it is entirely possible that we could have a world that would run smoothly and that everyone could enjoy, a fair and just society. It would have to be a world without poverty; we would have to figure out how to be sure that everyone had enough resources to get through their lives in comfort. Everyone would have to have sufficient supplies of food and water and health care, and at reasonable cost. Housing that was adequate and hygienic and large enough to accommodate the group to be housed would need to be available. The ability to provide everyone with plentiful light, heat, and cooling would also be important in such a world. Transportation of some type would be available to all and some forms of entertainment. Waste disposal in all its forms would have been worked out and functional. Everyone would have access to as much education or training as they needed in order to find employment and jobs would be plentiful. There would be a guaranteed minimum wage for people who are unable to work or who need to take time off from work for their own needs or those of their family. People’s right’s would have to be respected.

There would be some form of instant repercussions for bullying, cheating, conning and trying to make an easy buck at the expense of others. There would also be instant repercussions for anti-social behavior detrimental to other members of the society. I believe that we are creative enough to make such a world as this and to do it in a way that governance is not overly intrusive. A society like this would have to be somewhat regimented. Given our natures that seem to value independence and even a bit of chaos more than regimentation could we live in such a culture? Switzerland has managed to do something like this. Would we all be happy living in Switzerland if the country had enough space? Is it easier to govern smaller nations than it is to govern larger nations? Is a one-world umbrella government possible and what would it look like?

While it is true that we are flawed and we often let our worst selves out into the world; we are also sublime and inspired. We love to solve problems. But we would need to solve the problems of letting our flaws rule the day because they seem more interesting than the peacefulness of getting our economies, governments, and social spheres right. Somehow we have come to believe that eliminating our bad behaviors will make for really boring lives and might even squelch creativity. Would our lives be too commonplace if there were no poverty, if everyone had enough of everything, if no one was homeless. Could this come to be recognized as simply the baseline infrastructure of a rational world?

We each have to choose moment by moment to opt out of those 7 deadly sins (Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, Sloth) and try to stay true to the 7 virtues (Humility, Charity/Generosity, Chastity, Gratitude, Temperance, Patience, Diligence). In a world that rewards innovative and creative behavior people often get confused about what is brilliant and what is criminal. Sometimes people get away with criminal behavior and then the confusion is even greater. We all know the Golden Rule, but can we design a world where people truly live it. The Golden Rule is open to interpretation. It is pretty general. People could disagree about what doing unto others means. People could have different tolerances for what they will let people do unto them. We have already seen the problems with a Constitution that was deliberately left open to interpretation. Even the Bible (and books holy to other religions) leave lots of room for various factions to claim that the same passages back up their actions. We know, however, that it would be too restrictive, controlling, and, in the end, impossible to try to make a law about every single cultural exigency.

Since everything we do tends to have two sides, the good and the bad, is it even possible, within the cosmic rules we seem to be stuck with, to choose to live in a society that provides enough for all? Or would even that state, that seems so proper, turn out to have new down sides that we have never thought of? For example, what would we do with people who get greedy, or people who abuse children, or people who exploit power for sex, or steal for income, or kill in anger, and on and on through the whole sorry roll call of human anti-social behavior. We would have to find a way to correct these behaviors that would not betray the goals of our fair and just society. Would imprisonment fit the tenor of such a world? Would we develop drugs that correct bad behaviors? Would we make a prison island to get these people out of circulation? That sort of worked in Australia, but we are fresh out of Australias. If solving the problems of society would simply produce new problems we have not imagined, then it seems futile to even bother.

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Still, I would go with the globalists – not to get rid of nations necessarily, but to set minimums for comfortable lives for everyone on the planet and to decide how to husband our resources as populations in some places explode. What is to stop those overcrowded nations from eventually looking around for places that are more sparsely populated with reasonably plentiful resources; from beginning a new era of imperialism? Will every nation be surrounded by walls and life become a police state and a life of uncertainty, of trash and garbage, both animal waste and human psychic garbage?

We could pretend that Earth is a new planet we have just found in space, the Earth B that everyone is always talking about these days. We could pretend that we are starting over to set up a plan for how we will govern the planet. We could set up such a strong planning body that everyone would stop acting like the power of certain nations, not already ruled by dictators, is up for grabs. What would we want Earth B to be like? If we don’t learn soon to actually go to space, we may have to consider our Earth Planet B and start from scratch if we hope to survive out here at the edge of space.

Or perhaps you are with the imminent apocalypse crew and we go down slugging it out, thugging it out, and letting strong men call the shots for our everyday lives. Perhaps, because of our grievous faults that is all we deserve. Memorial Day offered a good chance to imagine a world where well-trained soldiers could stand down unless we were attacked by aliens. Could we create all this?

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Bernie Flaws

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I am always talking about what imperfect beings people are. If you’re a believer then it goes right back to those two original forebears of ours, Adam and Eve. They could have left us full of blissful ignorance and innocence but they were weak and so we have dual natures. Each one of us holds the paradoxes within us, in differing proportions, because of so many variables like our nurture in childhood, the social circumstances into which we are born, the cultural context that surrounds us during our relatively short lives.

We hold strengths and at the same time weaknesses, we are good and we are bad, we have talents and things that we seem to have little skill for, we are both stable and unstable at times, happy and depressed, healthy and unhealthy, brilliant and dumb all mixed in an infinite array that makes each one of us unique in spite of our similarities. If you are not a believer it is almost enough to make you believe that the Christian origin story holds more than a kernel of truth. Or we are just made this way?

What we also know to be true is that all of our actions, our inventions, our discoveries, and our endeavors hold the same human paradoxes within them; that they can be used for good or for evil; that they can make our lives worse or better. We know that a flawed human can twist anything to evil purposes or a human with better motives or character can act from strength and get positive results from the same event, invention, idea or strategy. Nuclear energy is probably our clearest example of this – used benignly it can provide power to run the devices that make our lives more comfortable – used as a weapon it can wipe out cities.

We get this stuff on a cosmic level, but we also understand that these same paradoxes operate in our daily lives. So I accept and perhaps you do also that Hillary Clinton is both experienced and flawed. I accept that she made a mistake choosing a private server if only because it gave her many enemies an opening to argue that she was either planning to have a way to hide information or that she is capable of making bad choices, both things we don’t really look for in a person running for President of the United States. However, all Presidents make mistakes given the complex issues they deal with minute to minute. Sometimes we get a leader who seems to make brilliant decisions but we usually don’t know that until we get some historical perspective on their legacy. And from the distance offered by time we are able to see that mistakes were also made.

However it seems that people have difficulty seeing the flaws that Bernie Sanders might have. His message is so consistent and has been for so many years that he seems steady and dedicated. Recent events reveal that Bernie Sanders is starting to show the ways in which his very strengths might also be his weaknesses. Bernie is showing himself to be a bit compulsive these days. He does not seem to be terribly flexible.

He cannot seem to show us the practical details that will allow him to effectively change things in Washington and in America. How does he plan to win new rights for workers? How does he plan to rein in Wall Street without tanking our already hobbled economy? How will he find the money for strengthening benefits? Can he raise the taxes on the wealthy? In almost every area we see the need to change the way wealth moves in America and the need for fairness to equalize privilege. It makes sense to us but Bernie Sanders has not really spelled out how he intends to get us there. So his message may be all to the good, but his vagueness and the way his specifics are sort of stored in the “cloud” and inaccessible may not be all to the good.

And again I suggest that Bernie Sanders is almost coming off a bit obsessive-compulsive lately. He said he would have a fifty state strategy, which is fine, but he doesn’t seem inclined or able to make adjustments for the good of the Democratic Party. I suppose if you are staging a Revolution you need to be a revolutionary, not someone who compromises. But is Bernie’s defensiveness and his meanness actually resulting from an inability to be flexible, to have a certain degree of political nimbleness? He has remained true to socialist principles for so many decades while America wanted nothing to do with socialism.

Personally, I do not believe that socialism is necessary in a democracy because government is already of the people, by the people, and for the people. Where I do agree with Bernie is when he recounts how far away we are from a true democracy. It is not socialism I fight for, it is democracy. In a democracy we don’t need socialism because we are the people and we take care of all the people. But if our democracy is becoming or has already become an oligarchy then Mr. Sanders is right in arguing that the people (all the people) need to take back their government and that this will probably mean making money talk less and every vote count more. However we must accept that if rich folks take their money out of government, which they have shown a willingness to do, there may be fewer things our government can do for ‘we the people’.

But what really bothers me is how Bernie Sanders has seemed more and more like a curmudgeon lately, so intent on his own business that he barely notices what is going on around him. He does not admonish Donald Trump in any sustained way for his outrageous pronouncements and astonishingly unevolved policies. He does not raise money for down-party candidates (except that he did find three worthy souls). He fights with Democratic Party leaders and threatens to bring revolution to the Democratic Convention. He has a right to do these things but they are not done in a manner that suggests strength and composure. They are done with old man bitterness and complaints about bad rules and stacked decks. Instead of sounding like an eventual winner, he just sounds like a sore loser. Bernie Sanders does have flaws and lately he is showing them to us almost every day. If you’re planning to vote for him because you think he is Mr. Wonderful, then I guess you won’t have noticed that he is just looking like Mr. Ticked Off.