I had the opportunity Sunday, to go and listen to a man speak about something I have been juggling with within myself. The man was Dr. Debu Majumdar, past President of the Board at the UU Church in Idaho Falls and an author of children books that teach moral stories based on the Hindu stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The speech was titled simply; Occupy Wall Street Signals a Need for Return to Ethics.
The message however was much more profound, at least for those of us who have trying to find the balance within us of being a good citizen, and a good spiritual person. I say this because of the good judgment of separating our faith from our politics and governing laws. Debu has been a devout believer of the Hindu teachings and ethical standards and has managed to form strong ties in his waking life to them, and weaving them into his mundane work as well as his political views.
I had been wrestling with my civic responsibility(s) to my fellow citizens and my religious obligations to my community while I have been active in the ever growing social movement of the Occupy Wall Street campaign. As an active citizen, I have attended events and General Assemblies held by our local Occupy Idaho Falls groups and those of Occupy Pocatello, as well as interacted on a National scale of communication and interaction with the many various Occupy groups online, sharing ideas and developing plans of action to help educate the public and address our elected officials. As a clergy person of my faith, I have helped develop and implement action and communication of peaceful assertion and ethical behavior. True they both compliment each other in application, yet I had felt that together, they limited my ability to do more. Sunday, I sat there and realized that they did not.
Debu brought up many things that we had all mentioned or focused on in our activities or assemblies concerning our Nation in general, our Government in action, and our future in specifics. Being a history and mythology buff, I had several times pointed out the parallels and patterns that we had fallen into as a Nation and how it had played out in the past with other countries. Debu pointed out that this country, this culture, has no long standing mythology, but does have a well documented history that we all learned as children, however, they lack much of the moral and ethical teachings that accompany the majority of cultural mythologies. Every culture that has come and blended into this great melting pot of a Nation, has brought these mythologies and cultural teachings, yet they have been played down if not removed from our education system. With such downplay in favor of science and math, we lost much more than 'faery tales' and 'ancient history', we lost the advantage of instilling into our progeny a solid foundation of ethics. I know, Christians that read this will be up in arms, but the Bible has been so over interpreted and forced onto individual thought, that the majority of the younger generations have long since pulled away from it. Sad, but true.
As a clergyman of faith, and a spiritual person, I learned that to teach a religion or cultural belief, we must allow for the individual understanding and expression of personal interpretation. Allowing the 'student' to think, rather than telling them what to think. Faith is belief, not one based on outside definition, but in personal understanding. I too believe in the understanding and investigation of science, history, and accurate literature of cultural arts and expression. That is a belief based on facts and evidence supported by various pieces of science and history. I have blended them so deeply in my personal life, that I must always be wary of not being perceived as a manipulator of others. And I always encourage others to do the research, to think for themselves, and to be strong in their findings.
But back to Debu... He expressed that it has more than years for this country to come to this state, but it has taken generations. He pointed out that the generation gap has grown so much, that it has gone from grandparent - grandchild to parent – child. Whereas; our children cannot fully function in communication of ideas, goals and simple ethics outside of their own generation, leaving parents, and grandparents at a loss of how to convey to them these moral choices and good behavioral patterns. Sounds like something for 'family practice councilors'? Look what 60 years, roughly 3 full generations, of this has lead our country into. These children today, have lost so much due to our failures in our generation, and the oversights of our parents generation, and the lack of communicating and keeping in-touch with our grandparents generation. Personal ethics, business ethics, social morals, and just plain common sense has been overwritten by such things as our modern society has promised us by it's technical advances.
In place of savings, we strive for a credit rating, which requires us to borrow money and enter into debt willingly. In stead of the practice of business to raise standards of living, it raises the requirement to raise the cost of living, with the ultimate goal to 'make money' rather than quality products. In place of electoral officials working for the common goals of the people, we have allowed bribed politicians to pander to these same money minded businesses to prevail over us. There are so many places in our comparatively short history as a Nation, that we allowed these things to come to pass, without looking toward our future as a sovereign and sustainable country. Too many 'short sighted' laws have been passed that it is now common place for our legislators to through 'quick fixes' at our Nations problems, so that they can pas it off to someone else. How can we have become so complacent, so blind to this open proof of non-responsible or irresponsible acts by our government? It is simple, we do it on a personal level almost as often, if not more so, and we won't even go into the daily business dealings that make 'white collar crime' a common place term in our lives.
That is a big bite to swallow. We are responsible. It has been a trickle down affect for generations, going back to our great-grandparents easily, and further back if we spent the time searching it. We have allowed more and more of our generations to accept and conform to a level of complacency, that the modern response to government action of corporate rulings is; apathy. Somehow, somewhere, we forgot to care, unless it happened to us directly. We forgot how to care about our fellow citizen, we blinded ourselves to facts about laws, and we forgot how important our voices and our votes really were. We were told that we didn't matter, and we believed it. We allowed our freedoms to be trimmed and limited by our government and we allowed our government to be regulated by private corporations and big business interests. (The twisted comical part is, that these corporations are crying 'foul' when the government places regulations on them, and then convinces the government to 'privatize' the regulations by outsourcing to 'third party' companies, that they have even more influence on.)
The answers? That is now the issue. We have over 60 years to review what needs to be changed, adjusted, or repealed. The overview? Get money out of politics by removing the corporate person-hood granted by 'Citizens United' act, regulate influences of our politicians by not allowing them to be seated on corporate boards of private businesses while they hold a public office, and limiting if not completely removing the ever growing crowd of lobbyists in our legislative process. That is a good start, and mandatory before continuing I believe.
Next? Return the authority of this Nations currency back to the government of this Nation and out of the hands of private banks that hold no allegiance nor true investments in the well being least not the sustainability of this Nation. Then focus more on our National infrastructures that are failing our Nation; Education, Labor, Communication, Roads and Bridges, Harbors and waterways, Power grids and resource management. I'll even go so far as to focus on a National plan to increase research and general application of renewable resources for heat and power, building transit systems that increase interstate and National transportation, i. e. bus, train and waterway transit plans that resemble those of other Nations.
From here, we have to get there, from there...well only our future is at stake.