Thursday, August 2, 2007

Politics and Idealism

Throughout my childhood, tales of heroes very often centred on commitment to a political or social cause. A hero must be willing to fight and even die for the cause to which he/she is sworn. Freedom, justice and self-determination are wonderful concepts. 'Peace' is an ideal that is utopian in nature, but I quickly determined that peace without justice could be defined as nothing more than a type of slavery or an excuse for cowardice.

People are divided over fundamentals often. The philosophy of the individual often is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of the community. 'Am I my brother's keeper?' is a question that must be answered one way or the other by any political or social manifesto.

There are those who believe that each individual is responsible for his/her own welfare and that self-determination combined with survival of the fittest actually creates the healthiest and most ethical course of action. Others believe in the duty of society to protect the weak against the strong, and to take care of those who are incapable of caring for themselves.

The contemporary doctrine of 'tough love' actually denies the virtue of helping the weak with its claim that true love requires non-intervention, allowing an individual to drown if need be rather than casting a life support system in his/her direction.

I personally cannot agree with that philosophy. Although I do understand the concept of 'enablers' and have experienced manipulation at the hands of some individuals I tried to help in the past, I continue to maintain that there is a duty on the part of the strong to protect the weak. All human beings are NOT created equal. Furthermore, the vicissitudes of life often can diminish an individual's own potential to survive.

At the same time, I support the inalienable right of any individual or nation to self-determination. That right cannot be abrogated by any perception that another person may 'know better'. The right to self-destruct as well as the right to attain the ultimate positive state of being deserve the same protection. In like fashion, people do have the right to live as slaves if they choose to do so. Who are we to insist upon the freedom of others? The truth of the matter is that few individuals who truly could be defined as 'free' and 'independent' walk this earth. Almost every one carries chains and in many cases, those chains have been forged and tempered by the individual himself/herself. People for the most part are terrified of freedom. They prefer the security of a prison to the insecurity of freedom. They prefer the security of a bad relationship to the freedom of loneliness. Who is to tell them they must cast aside all the elements in their lives that allow them to function? Not I. Although I feel I would rather die than make the choices some others have made, it is not for me to judge.

Where politics is concerned, most of the time our ideals are high but the manifestation of those causes is as flawed as human nature. Even in revolutions, leaders ultimately display the very elements they promised to combat! The man who fights against tyranny later becomes a tyrant himself. People are impure by nature, and the motivations that drive individuals towards public office, fame or leadership often are not as noble as they would like to think. Ego is very much a part of it.

That having been said, I do firmly believe that it is vital for every individual to embrace a social or political cause that will not benefit him or her personally. To support or fight for a cause simply because it is just is something that ennobles the human spirit and allows us never to forget that we are connected as a commmunity to all humanity. Despite the personal failures of groups and leaders to maintain the highest standards, it is important never to lose faith in our ideals. Nobility cannot exist in vacuo. It is expressed through our actions and our commitment to justice, whether in the private or public sphere.

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