A deeply resonant CSN song began with the lyric “You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by.” While this is likely true, one would hope the rest of us don’t need an Ovaltine Decoder Ring to figure out what it is. Many singers, composers, authors, parents, pastors, and elected representatives each have some power to sway in a way that can help insure our ultimate survival or destruction as a species. And yet, trying to decipher the values proposition such people put forth is often a matter of guesswork.
Throughout the history of our planet, there have been people, at the commanding heights, who are unable to differentiate between true and false liberty. The bully pulpit is, as often as not, occupied by people that can’t seem to balance freedom with self-control. Many of us, as parents, have had to contend with one or more children that don’t think the rules apply to them. Our responses range from an off the shelf “cause I said so,” to a dissertation on the golden rule that can be procured from any major religious tradition on earth.
Today we find ourselves and our fellow human beings situated somewhere between a Luciferian license and a Jesusonian form of self mastery. Politicians can spend lots of their constituent’s money on media to rile us. When we are on an even keel, it doesn’t serve the interests of political operatives intent on leveraging FIBS, the Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear that are in every dirty trickster’s toolkit.
They want us to hate the Chinese, Iranians, Russians, Hebrews, Palestinians , and Arabs when the real, most objectionable conduct is usually traceable to the egomaniacal leaders of those nations. They have encouraged us to view anyone that doesn’t exhibit a complexion exactly like ours, as somehow less than human to perpetually justify man’s inhumanity to man through international or internecine, hot or cold warfare. And, as they do, they often characterize themselves as liberty loving freedom fighters.
Just what is this thing that we call liberty? Is it permissible, in the name of free speech, to yell fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire? And what about truthfulness? Is it ok to mislead someone who may rely upon your word to their detriment?
Liberty that is unintelligent, unconditioned, and uncontrolled is a cruel deception that invariably leads to abject bondage for someone. It may be you; if you should decide to go wilding with the hordes through the hallowed halls of representative government. You could lose your freedom, for life, in accordance with the felony murder rule. You could lose your cherished 2nd Amendment right to own a gun. You could find yourself on a list that forever bars you from boarding a commercial flight.
If your idea of liberty gives you license to rape, pillage, and plunder or engage in human trafficking, you are imposing bondage on someone else. There is a delicate balance between true freedom and self-control. And, while good parents teach it, bad-faith pastors do not. The counterfeit wisdom that flows from many in authority, who are often enjoying excessive prominence, is leading us into an orgy of darkness and death. They often fail to teach that diminishing external restraints are always contingent upon augmenting internal restraints.
If we are to survive as a species, we must turn our attention to those purpose driven leaders that are advancing us towards an era of light and life. They are easy to recognize because their values proposition is crystal clear. They focus us not upon themselves but on our own highest and best understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness as they give creative expression to those qualities. They encourage us to consider just how we can contribute, in an active and spiritually pragmatic way, toward the healing and elevation of life on our planet.
Democracy, throughout the world, is under attack. And, at its most basic level, it is problematic. It can be three wolves and a sheep deciding on dinner. It can lead to the domination of mediocrity. And, every time it stumbles, authoritarian wannabes will say: “You see, it’s messy. It doesn’t work. That’s why to need me.” But in the final analysis, government of, by, and for the people is the only design that is truly sustainable. It is the only one that is spiritually serviceable; as it alone has the power to elicit the enthusiastic consent of the governed.
The choice now before us is autocracy versus democracy. We must learn to recognize any sophistry that has the effect of corroding the democracy underpinnings of our constitutional republic. Long ago, Edmund Burke, in referring to the American colonists, described our ancestors as “able to snuff the approach of tyranny with every tainted breeze.” Today the tainted breezes are delivered by means of powerful airwaves that Burke probably never imagined. And, right now, the most deceptive practices, ones that push fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear are generating howling winds in contrast to the gentle breezes of true benevolence. The most refreshing breezes are the ones that are spiritually fragrant, the ones where truth, beauty, and goodness are clearly in evidence.