Was the constitution written for times like these when all of life's role models collapse under the burden of scrutiny and belief systems are so locked in the past that many people have broken lose from their anchors.
If you don’t read, most likely you won’t be much of a writer. If you don’t practice you won’t be good at playing soccer and if you don’t go to church you will not go to heaven. It’s a belief system. We all grow up with belief systems. They are instilled in us when we’re young and often called value systems as they reflect the passing on of the values of parents, tribal heritage, political views, the environment we grew up in and education we receive.
Belief systems lead to confrontations and the stronger the belief system, the stronger the collisions of beliefs. I grew up in a home environment that translated all the belief systems surrounding us into a simplified set of ethical principles that came down to:
a. Do everything you say you’re going to do
b. Don’t aggress against other people, their belief systems or their property
c. Do as you will but be prepared to accept the consequences
I always was of the opinion that these “laws” should be enough to warrant peaceful interactions between people. As I see it, the first one covers how you interact with others and it ultimately governs everything from business to marriage. The second covers how you should not interact with others, and will ultimately and hopefully prevent what we might regard as criminal behavior. And the 3rd one will definitely and necessarily result in a much more thoughtful and ethical population. It’s as simple as that.
I’m with the scientists and physicists in their effort to simplify the forces in the universe down into one unified field theory and therefore think that the expression “ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it” in today’s world is total nonsense, because there are literally hundreds of thousands of arbitrary laws, with new ones passed daily. Florida received a package of 247 new ones just yesterday.
Granted these three principles may not cover unintended aggression as they do not pretend to be perfect. One simply has to use his best judgment in assessing the consequences of actions – or non-actions. Certainly none of the religious books, like the Bible or the Koran, are of much help. They’re full of contradictions, ambiguities, and absurdities, while generally lacking clear ethical principles. When people behave ethically, they have a positive, constructive system for interacting – a voluntary regulation of behavior that is much more convenient than breaking out into fist fights at every interaction.
Someone declared that civilization started with the first person who threw a word instead of a stone.
Much of what we call ethical and proper are taught by our parents assisted by an environment of “role models”.
Mom and dad were my biggest brandnames, the teacher in school or the priest in church were trusted brands. The friendly woman behind the counter of the local grocery store was a familiar brand.
I trusted these brandnames because I was taught so. It’s what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to admire the richest man in the village. I was supposed to respect the mayor and elected commissioners and anyone in uniform from the police chief to the mailman was part of authority. Nobody questioned the family doctor; his knowledge was all encompassing and if someone died in his care, it was either age, their own fault or divine intervention. A second opinion was unheard of, unless in deep secrecy and an early morning trip to a neighboring village or city.
Our belief system was such, that the local banker was “God Reincarnate”, to be approached with utmost respect and reverence. The man could make or break you if you needed money for a house, a car or a business. But most of all, our belief system demanded to trust authorities with your life. We grew up understanding that these trusted brands had our well being at heart and would never do anything to hurt us.
As a circle of belief, life was much easier then. Combined with another obsolete expression: What you don’t know, you don’t miss, life for many of us spelled ignorant bliss. You did what you were told and somehow that would result in bread and butter on your table and a roof over your head. And if things didn’t work out the way it was promised or planned, you didn’t question the authorities that be. That was an approach that would surely get you into trouble. You would simply stay quiet and low profiled and let things be things.
On the surface it may seem that things have changed over the past hundred years or so, but really they haven’t. Our belief systems are still rooted in essentially these same interactional structures, even with the arrival of the internet. Unfortunately it also explains why so many of us are still so gullible. We were raised to accept hierarchy and act accordingly.
Do what you say you’re going to do and leave other people’s freedom and property alone and accept the consequences of your actions and lack of actions.
It may seem that especially over the last 100 years these principles have come under a great deal of pressure as a result of an exploding world population and the fact that we can physically reach every outpost on the globe within a 24 hour timespan and interact within seconds. Truth is that our actions reveal that we still go by a belief system that lost its functional status a couple of decades ago.
These days many of us are forced to make hundreds of decisions and are bombarded by thousands of messages from often unverified sources. We look at these impulses through the same principles of our outdated belief system as they were installed by our overburdened parents.
The founding fathers of our constitution may have been wise in their days, but they wrote down behavioral rules and regulations for a much less complicated society that operated on the speed of an ocean wave and a galloping horse. Almost 250 years later we still utilize belief systems that are outgrown. We would all be doing good to lift our heads above the cornfield occasionally and adjust directions instead of blindly creating stacks of meaningless arbitrary laws.
Justifying a life by saying: “I thought that’s what I was supposed to do” is almost as dangerous to the advancement of the human race as the infamous Arian claim after the atrocities of World War II: “Wir haben es nicht gewusst” or “We didn’t know.” Be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions is the next level of growth.