In America, we are a few days before the results of a contentious election will be announced. Strangely, it seems, many many people support a fascist agenda with the incumbent, whose loudmouthed racism and threats, bullying , and intimidation has been unprecedented, and definitely unpresidential. He seems to represent the “American” that many want to identify with: rude, offensive, and uncaring.
His complete lack of empathy for others, his narcissistic obsession with his personal image and personal gain, his almost inhuman disdain for “nerds” (smart people who know better than him)- these are all qualities that we applauded and enjoyed in sitcom after sitcom, soap opera after soap opera, and blockbuster film after blockbuster film. Yes, it’s sociopathic and anti-social, psychopathic and dangerous, but this is the “Hollywood” Americans have been enjoying for at least 30 years. It’s a fantasy they want to perpetuate- or a lot of them do.
As it threatens to destroy the vestige of “democracy” and “freedom” and even become a Wild West Shoot Out by his “Proud Boys” when they fail to accept the actual election results, the world is saddened. America has been a beacon of hope for mankind, a place where anyone could progress and succeed. Our Constitution assured us freedoms that could not be violated by a ruling party or ruling president. This president has succeeded in violating that Constitution and not being held accountable. He was actually impreached by Congress, and yet the Senate refused to hear testimony and overturned the impeachment, in a rough-rider partisan vote that ignored justice and any pretence of being impartial or fair. He has illegally used our taxpayer funding to enrich his own companies, to bankroll family junkets overseas, and refused to extend decent survival funds to taxpayers now impoverished by this pandemic.
The “American Way” has certainly became tarnished by reality. Many people feel frustrated and hopeless, deeply enmeshed in a system where it seems they were somehow being cheated. Conspiracy theories were jumped on to explain and blame, to channel that frustration. Anything to distract from the sorry truth that our economic system is set up for the rich to get richer, at the expense of the poor. Corporations have no humanity or morality, and they rule the economic world, with heads intent on short term profits, no worries that we destroy our world for generations to come. Many voted for Trump hoping for a change, but instead got more and more of the same thoughtless greed and plunder.
Some kinds of “Morality” were once perhaps just a veneer, something to keep up appearances, while the underlying truth of depravity and selfishness flourished. Our modern urban culture has thrown off many false standards and overthrown many false stereotypes. Honesty is more prized, authenticity is more prized. To me, if feels so wonderful that we are accepting the diversity of who we are, beyond all the “shoulds” and “oughtas”. We are “shalls” and “I am’s”.
But to many “Americans” they are scared and threatened. All this change has caused a backlash, which perhaps we should expect: It’s overthrowing all the standards of what a man should be (John Wayne), and what a woman should be (sexually available to men). And this candidate hearkens back to that bygone era where things seemed so simple, where the moral veneer kept a simple social contract, and the underlying racism and classism kept that white majority in control and secure. A false security, in this day and age.
So what is it to be “moral” as an adjective description of something? The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines“moral” as:
“concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character. As in”the moral dimensions of medical intervention”
Or “holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct. As in “he prides himself on being a highly moral and ethical person””.
Yale researcher and author, Paul Bloom said, “Humans are born with a hard-wired morality; a sense of good and evil is bred in the bone. I know this claim may sound outlandish, but it’s supported now by research in several laboratories.”
D.H. Lawrence said about Morality, “The essential function of art is moral. But a passionate, implicit morality, not didactic. A morality which changes the blood, rather than the mind.”
Mahatma Gandhi put it all in perspective with, “Morality is the basis of things, and truth is the substance of all morality.
New York University social scientist and author, Jonathan Haidt, frames our discussion: “Morality binds us into groups. It gives us tribalism, it gives us politics, genocide, and war. But it also gives us heroism, altruism, and sainthood.”
Some kinds of “Morality” were once perhaps just a veneer, something to keep up appearances, or as Oscar Wilde said “Morality is simply the attitude we adopt toward people whom we personally dislike”.
In an era of Moral Conflict, Empatharian emerges to offer a Moral Calisthenics: a place to exercise our morals, to embody our morality, and to explore empathy for the other, in a disciplined process without bloodshed. It’s to be a conversation, a communication- from and between people, reaching into their deepest presence for authenticity and connection to source. There we will find our shared original morality, and its luminescent brilliance will be a force for building peace, for generations to come.