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Becoming Good Citizens of the World

Posted by Roberta Grimes • October 13, 2018 • 18 Comments
Human Nature, Jesus, Thomas Jefferson, Understanding Reality

A friend who often comments here has asked me why in this series of posts I have talked about the United States alone, when in his view it is time for Americans to become good citizens of all the world. He is precisely right! Imagine a world that has become one neighborhood, everyone watching out for everyone else, where all of humankind is united in love and we are far beyond any kind of war. But if that is the goal, how on earth can we get there?

Ever since the end of World War I, well-meaning people have wanted to put into place some sort of worldwide governance that might be able to end all wars. Not only have these efforts come to naught, but a case can be made that they actually have sharpened existing divisions among nations. The problem with our attempts to unite the world has been the fact that every one of them has been top-down! Uniting the world’s governments can be of little help if our real goal is to unite the world’s people.

 The United Nations is typical. The U.N. is an assembly of governments, many of which are frank dictatorships. No attempt is made by the U.N. to lessen the depredations of the world’s worst rulers, so far from uplifting the people of the world, the United Nations gives legitimacy and support to tyrants who oppress and destroy. The U.N. might prevent a war or two, but in refusing to insist on basic human rights it makes the conditions of many still worse.

As is true of politics and religion, coalitions of governments are primarily about controlling and impoverishing people. No matter the good intentions with which political, religious, and world organizations might begin to do their work, soon they are all about funneling power and money into the hands of a few. All you need to know about Christianity is that the Catholic Church is worth at least $130 billion now, the Mormon Church is worth $200 billion, and even the Church of England is worth $7.8 billion. In America, successful politicians routinely amass great personal wealth; and even Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian hero, died a billionaire! Every bit of all this money gathered into hands at the very top came from the labor of masses of people who had been coerced into yielding it up. Thomas Jefferson memorably said that no government should “take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned,” but these numbers make a mockery of that wish! No assembly organized on the top-down model can be of any use to us as we work to build a healthier and more sustainable future for all the world.

So to answer our friend who wonders why I keep talking about the United States and I never mention our need to be good citizens of the world, I say this: Unless we can perfect and spread the Founders’ brilliant governmental model, we are going to have no hope at all of uplifting the rest of suffering humankind.

The world over the past two hundred years has been a wondrous laboratory! Alternative forms of government have been extensively tried, so it is easy now to say what works fairly well and what cannot work at all. To judge the relative success of governmental models, we will need some objective measures. I propose these four:

  • Responsiveness to the people being governed;
  • An emphasis on person freedom;
  • Broad-based economic prosperity; and
  • Long-term internal stability and peace.

When considered in these terms, there never is going to be a perfect government. What we are seeking, therefore, is a governmental design that will make good government possible, and in that sweepstakes there is one clear winner! Any form of class-based, non-elective rule is destructive of prosperity for the masses, which is why for most of human history nearly all people have lived miserable lives. A century ago we might have thought that the high ideals inherent in collectivist models like communism and socialism stood some chance of doing better, but in practice collectivist governments have been disastrous whenever they have been tried. Just the process of collectivization in the 20th century resulted in at least a hundred million deaths, and the sort of top-down planning that collectivist governments depend on is anathema to personal happiness and an absolute barrier to real prosperity! It is only governments directed and controlled by the people being governed that make universal happiness and prosperity even possible.

And of all historical attempts at establishing government by and for the people, none has approached the long-term success and stability of the American model. Our Founders’ core insight was the fact that, as later was said by British historian Lord Acton, Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So the American Founders put all governmental power into the hands of the people, and they designed a stable, universally responsive, and remarkably resilient governmental model. The federal government of the United States has withstood every abuse that power-hungry politicians could heap upon it over the past two hundred years! It has become bloated and distorted to the point where the Founders would be appalled to see it now, but it retains at its core that perfect model that Thomas Jefferson described as ideal. He called it a design for a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”

After two hundred years of imperfect management, the American model still has produced a level of unprecedented individual prosperity. The U.S. Gross Domestic Product is now in the $20 trillion range, which is larger than the next three largest GDPs combined (China, Japan, and Germany). And of course, considering population differences makes our success even more dramatic. The median annual household income in the United States is just over $62,000, while in China it is about $1,100. In historical terms, modern middle-class Americans are as rich as once were kings.

The American Founders’ governmental design based on personal freedom and empowerment has been proven to be by far the greatest engine for producing the most prosperity for the greatest number that ever has been tried! That being true, it would be unconscionable for us not to be willing to to share it now. Let’s clean it up and tune it up, work out a few remaining bugs, and make it our gift to all the world!

The American people still retain the power to wrest control of their government back from politicians who use dishonest tactics like inspiring righteous indignation to keep us at one another’s throats and distract us from their manifold failures! You and I can see past that now. Once we calmly demand all the facts about every issue in contention, the political charades that are currently tearing this nation apart are going to sputter and die. Then the people will be back in control. And once we have reclaimed our nation, we will be able to make of it the shining example to the world’s oppressed people that our Founders long ago hoped it would be. Then over time, with our help, all the people on earth can begin to live in their own free and prosperous republics based upon the only governmental model that ever has been shown to produce stability, prosperity, flexibility, resilience, and the protection of the weak against the strong.

The Founders very well understood that a free and empowered people were going to need a solid spiritual grounding. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious (sic) people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Benjamin Franklin said, “[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” And Thomas Jefferson was two centuries ahead of his time when he said, “To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense that he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.” It is those perfect non-religious teachings of Jesus that will provide the solid spiritual grounding that can make uniting all the world even possible.

Abraham Lincoln memorably said in the midst of a crisis that also split this nation, “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.” Unless we will resolve to focus now on what is really important, and stop allowing political squabbling to keep splitting us apart over trivial nonsense, we are going to find it impossible to be of any use to a desperate world. So we have our work cut out for us! It is only all Americans together, reared from birth to be comfortable with personal freedom and empowerment, who have the means and the will to form that ultimate worldwide neighborhood. Billions of people are even now turning their hopeful eyes to us. And we can do this! Let’s roll!                        

 

photo credit: Jason K. Scott-Taggart <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/49585574@N08/44970347131″>Brooklyn Bridge westward view New York 2001</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

 

 

Roberta Grimes

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18 thoughts on “Becoming Good Citizens of the World

    1. Oh dear Mike, it breaks my heart to see how many of the poorest people in the world suffer under the most tremendous oppression and despair! But for a few accidents of wind direction hundreds of years ago, it might have been South America that gathered the ancestors of America’s Founders, so it might have been that continent that was freed and empowered and not this one! It is the ideas and not the people that matter, and now all those ideas have been safely tried, bt yet still some people preach the lie that collectivism is the way to go? At one time it could responsibly have been seen as an idea that might have worked. But there has never been a nation on earth that has followed the communist/socialist model for long with anything but disastrous results. Seeing how every other governmental design has either proven to be too clumsy (the parliamentary model comes to mind) or outright disastrous is actually good news, isn’t it? We have so far found only one method that provides the greatest good for the greatest number while it liberates and empowers all the people! All we need to do is share it, Mike. The suffering people of the world have eyes to see, and they figured out the incomparable value of the American model long before we did!

      1. Yes – isn’t it wonderful? I have to approve comments the first time each new commenter writes, and I did kind of giggle when I saw another Mike arrive this morning ;-). YAYY!! Just about everything in my life at this point is fun, and that includes having so many wonderful Mike-friends ;-).

    1. Welcome to another friend whose name is Mike! Of course it would be easier to get everyone talking publicly about what most of us privately know is true if there were any mainstream media outlet that was not hooked to one political party or the other, but we don’t have that luxury. My researching America’s racial problems and discovering that every one of them can be traced back to governmental decisions made via political compromise has opened my eyes to the fact that politics is quite literally the WORST way for people to make ANY KIND of important decision! I haven’t looked very much beyond race just yet, but it is pretty clear that we have made a great many short-sighted and fundamentally stupid decisions by vote of career politicians seeking their personal goals and not by the wisdom of a fully informed electorate.

      So it will take us a bit longer to do this, because to do it we must first take back the power that we have unwisely delegated to venal politicians. But thanks to the great wisdom of our Founders, we can do that! In fact, I suspect that we have at last become fed up enough that we are starting to do it now….

      Do you know the great secret of the amazing success of my home state of Texas? It’s not oil. That’s a small part of our economy. It’s the fact that our legislature is in regular session for just a few months, every other year! THAT’S IT! The legislators have to have day-jobs. They have to live and work in the real world, and for the few months every second year that they are in session (starts again early in 2019), everybody watches them closely. I know people now who are gearing up to go in with their carefully researched cases to make. THAT IS THE WHOLE REASON WHY TEXAS IS SUCH A POWERHOUSE! It’s a racially split state (about 1/3 black, 1/3 white, 1/3 Hispanic) that lives in love and harmony, a state that is half-desert and with little ocean access that flourishes in every way… and the whole secret of its success is that it is run by the PEOPLE. Just imagine if we ran this whole country that way!

      1. Roberta, my home state of Connecticut has part-time legislators, too, but they do meet year-long. The downside in our case is that they have full-time jobs and wind up being in legislative session “after hours,” sometimes deep into the night. It’s not the most efficient way to make decisions. We are, perhaps consequently and perhaps coincidentally, NOT a powerhouse. But how often and with what agenda the legislature meets isn’t really the point, in my opinion. The point is the motivation, the goal, that drives not just “official” government representatives, but we who are citizens. We live in a very materialistic culture. The motivator of so many decisions is not how to behave in the most ethical way and to create a world driven by compassion and love for all, but how to WIN! WIN! WIN! in a material way. We humans have achieved a great stature on the planet with minds that can approach everything we do problematically (and with compassion) — in other words, we have achieved, either through evolution or in spite of it, the ability to outsmart our evolution, and yet our culture continues to function as though we can’t change anything because we are restricted by “human nature (whatever THAT is).” Signed, the commenter formerly known as Mike

        1. Heh – I’ve had to approve you again, but now you have your unique name! (Perhaps we should put a little notice at the top of the comment section that if someone’s name is Mike he should include his initial?)

          The key to success for states seems to be that their legislature must be in session for a very short time and relatively seldom. I believe that in Texas it is four months at the start of every odd-numbered year – not sure if that is the precise length. The governor can call them into extra session in emergencies, and most years there is a little late-season flurry that can keep then in session for a few weeks longer, but that is it!! What is important is that they are not “part-time legislators,” but rather they are full-time working people who do a little lightly-paid volunteer work in every other year. What you have in Connecticut, it seems to me, is the worst of all worlds. Dear Mike, when legislatures are in session, legislators are always looking for things to legislate about. And it has been pretty clearly demonstrated that the less we let them do of that, the better and healthier our states will be!

          And to your second point, to have a legislature always meeting gives far too much power to those legislators. If human nature really is selfish and grasping – and I am open to the thought that it is – then the less we allow them to exercise those tendencies, the better it is for all of us!

  1. Dear Roberta,
    There is a simple truth, and it is that, despite our squabbling, America remains the shining city on the hill. The UN has morphed from good intentions to a General Assembly controlled by non-Christian nations run mainly by despotic governments in the interests of their politicians and/or inherited “nobility.” The UN Human Rights Commission got so notoriously corrupt that it made a name change to Council, but with no material improvement in membership or behavior. About the Council now, from which the US recently withdrew, “The council is the world’s top human rights watch dog but its current 47 elected member states include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Venezuela and the Philippines, akin, some critics might say, to the fox guarding the henhouse. BBC, June 20, 2018 . ”

    The USA, despite the unpopularity and cost in lives and taxes, continues to be the world’s police force, helping out on disasters.

    Ground up, people to people unification– that’s actually mainly done by such individuals as pastor Brunson just released from Turkey, jailed for preaching Christianity as unlawful in Islam, with terrorism thrown in as a charge.

    The direct evidence is that God permits the plague of miserably run nations consistent with His creation of Earth in a material world as the environment for educating the soul, in contrast to the peaceful, loving environment of Heaven. We are all empowered to work the Golden Rule best we can, but most of us have more than enough to do working day to day to pay our bills.

    1. I think we have learned some extremely important things from the extraordinary success of the American model. Here are a few of them:

      1) People CAN govern ourselves! Until this nation’s founding aristocrats voluntarily gave up what had always been the right of aristocrats to boss people around and take their stuff, and they happily tried this model of government by and for the people at large, no one even knew whether it could work! And what we have learned is that so long as you don’t allow another aristocracy to rise – this time, in the person of corrupt and venal politicians – the self-government model works amazingly well.

      2) Government by and for the people has manifold and wonderful effects, including unprecedented across-the-board prosperity for all those willing to work for it. People need incentives! And in a nation where any schoolchild has the legal right to become whatever he or she wants to be – can become a billionaire by his or her own efforts – then people are all incentivized to work and to try, and thereby to make even the least of us richer!

      3) Self-government engenders a sense of pride and empowerment in the common man. Including a level of mutual love and support that Americans think comes from our Christian heritage, but everyone who has been around Christians knows that is certainly not where it comes from! No, it comes from the fact that free and empowered people see an advantage and no risk for themselves in supporting other free and empowered people.

      4) The genius of the American design is that it can be muddled with around the edges – as has been happening a lot during the course of the past century! – but our core right to govern ourselves remains. So long as we protect our Constitution from all the political attempts to monkey with it (from either the right or the left), we always will keep the right to take all the power back!

  2. Dear Roberta,

    Your post was one of the best I have ever read. Your depth of knowledge of history, combined with your insights to global politics is fantastic. It is amazing to me how half our population are not willing to see anything politically in an objective manner. If not for a “D” next to a candidate many would not know who to vote for because they don’t engage the issues at hand in any consistent way.

    Roberta you are a breath of fresh air. Too many people today are blinded by the propaganda that the media had a monopoly on distributing via traditional channels. Today with the internet and social media the people can connect as never before without the media filter.

    The half of the population who are “environmentalists” need to learn about becoming conservationists instead. We all need to be good citizens and respect our planet locally and globally by recognizing what humans can control and what we cannot.

    Those who demanded treating everyone with respect need to start doing so. As important as facts are, so are emotions. Those who operate primarily on emotion should again apply their desire to be treated fairly not just to their side but to everyone.

    It is puzzling how so many people today are “consistently inconsistent” in their thought process and beliefs. Edgar Cayce readings foretold of major changes at this time and it appears correct. Never before has the will of the people been as strong as it had been when this country was founded.

    Given the current political climate we are very blessed to have an outsider PDT step in and shake up the system. Everyone should embrace this moment in time to work together to enact positive changes. Hopefully we will have a breakthrough in awareness among those opposed to see things are not what they have been told to believe and that we all can become “Americans first” before party, race or sex.

    Sincerely,
    JP

  3. People need to be informed, not manipulated by the media, or what their current “hero” says. And as JP says to be respectful of everyone’s rights, not just their own. God loves each of us, all his creation, we would do well to remember that and do our best to love each other. (I do find myself occasionally saying, “God, I can’t love that person, so you will have to”.) But I am trying. Thanks, Roberta

    1. Dear Jean, I used to have this problem, big-time! My standards for myself and for others were always far higher than was rational. And I have found that the key to love is just what Jesus said that it is: forgiveness. As I say in “The Fun of Growing Forever,” what I have discovered is that once you learn forgiveness the right way – the way that Jesus teaches it – then you just naturally love everyone, no matter what they do ;-).

  4. Welcome, JT, and thank you for such a wonderful and wise set of comments! I do think that a lot more people would be eager to heal every one of our rifts if they only understood that our two key problems really are politics – the worst possible way to make any decision! – and politicians, who for the most part are the direct successors to the robber barons of old. It is time now for us all to refuse to allow them to play any more games with our heads, and instead to calmly claim our power back. We can do it. And when we do it, literally everything is going to change for the better!

  5. Speaking of the negatives of American political parties:

    One party wants to:

    * Abolish the Electoral College

    * Abolish the Supreme Court

    * Abolish the Senate

    Why they want to do so is a complete mystery!

    1. Dear Mike S, you make a great point. These aspects of the Constitutional in particular are designed to keep power in the people’s hands, so naturally power-mad politicians want to be rid of them! What they try to hide from us, of course, is the fact that each of these institutions exists precisely to KEEP a few politicians from seizing too much power away from the people! The Electoral College and the Senate are both constituted the way they are so a few very populous states cannot seize naked power away from the people and form a rogue government over us all. And the Supreme Court, of course, is charged with enforcing the Constitution, which is the whole source of the people’s power. You know, the more I study these details, the more I am amazed at the far-seeing wisdom of that generation of giants!

  6. Dear Roberta,
    Thank you for this post. Could you please give me your source(s) for the worth of the following religious organizations that you listed?

    -Catholic Church: $130 billion
    -The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon): $200 billion
    -Church of England: $7.8 billion

    Thank you,

    Keith Jensen

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