A point of view problem
John D. Powell
Walter Meller wrote a passionate opinion piece (Reporter News, June 13) calling for a return to sanity in our country.
I agree with his premise, that we as a nation have lost our “moral foundations” and that we must “come to understand that honesty, fairness and morality are the foundation of freedom. “. This is all well and good, but the meanings and manifestations of honesty, fairness and morality will vary greatly depending on one’s perspective.
In his argument, Meller lists a wide range of what he sees as social, economic, and political evils, but then confusedly attributes them to problems of excess, a drift towards socialism, and an extremely COVID-19 conspirator.
What is missing from this dizzying array of issues is a distinction between those who are real issues, those who are symptomatic of deeper issues, and those who are simply complaints about things not going the way they want them to. in this country. I recognize myself in several of his “old white” complaints.
As an example, Meller cites racism as one of our social problems.
We can all agree that racism is a real concern in our country, but again, perspective is crucial. From a certain point of view, racism can be seen as a problem to be eradicated, for example “We just have to stop being racist” or, more likely, “We have to stop making such a big deal about race. “
These responses are typical of a person who has not been the target of racism. From another point of view, if the events that have taken place in our country over the past year have revealed anything, it is that racism is not something that we stop doing. It is an ingrained part of our national history. If so, it is our national history. It is also a part of each of our personal stories, a reality that shapes us and in which we participate.
Rather than being something that we need to eradicate, as if we can, we need instead to carefully examine and combat racism from the perspective of those who have suffered, and not from the perspective of someone like me. , who has the luxury of simply observing and criticizing.
The same sort of thing can be said about many of the social and economic ills listed. It is easy to list our annoyances when we have been inconvenienced by others or by politicians. It’s not the same as being a target.
Socialism, the second source of Meller’s problem, is an easy target for political and economic conservatives.
I guess any government program that provides services to people can be called socialist, but the term is usually reserved for programs that don’t benefit me and my group. Programs that help groups we see as less deserving are labeled as socialist, as government handouts and undeserved rights. Social programs that help me and my group are seen as the deserved rewards of freedom.
Most people who warn of socialism as a problem fail to distinguish between socialism and social capitalism, or the finer distinction between social capitalism and corporate capitalism. We as a nation are in no danger of becoming a socialist nation as long as we exercise our representative democracy.
However, we have moved more towards corporate capitalism, creating a large and growing gap between those who have more than enough and everyone else. This created or exacerbated a number of social and economic ills listed by Meller.
Social capitalism seeks to balance our responsibility to one another with our personal freedoms, as the preamble to the Constitution suggests, “… to promote general welfare and to secure the blessings of freedom …”
Meller’s third thesis was based on a quote that COVID-19 was “orchestrated” to violate our constitutional rights, gain power over the middle class, and make us ineffective and powerless.
This bit of conspiratorial absurdity does not deserve an answer.
Honesty, fairness and morality should indeed be among our fundamental principles, but we must be careful and clear about what these terms mean in our society. These three values have been scarce over the past few years, from top to bottom.
It becomes the responsibility of each of us to reestablish these values from the bottom up, in who we are, in how we treat neighbors we love, in how we respond to those we dislike or we disagree with, and electing and supporting people who embody those values.
John D. Powell lives in Abilene.