Intellectual discourse without adherence to a professional mode of interaction devolves the position of one’s message. A balance in how we speak to one another and the strength of our message interplay together. How can the national conversation be moved forward and decisive action be taken when great political forces are at odds?
Increase the level of smart, genuine people.
Why is it important to harness the power of intellect, more so than the power of physical force in order to achieve a desired end?
Where and how does an American citizen start to respectfully exercise the right to critique, shape, and defend our system of governance?
Are good manners important to employ as we become respectful, critical thinkers?
Example #1: The relationship between the military general and the Council
Marcus Aurelius, in a speech included within The Columbian Orator, eloquently put forth to the Roman council of his time that his generalship was not beyond the reach and management of Rome, but that his tactical and strategic deployments, prioritization of battle position and movement as it was in the theater of war, was his right and his right alone as Supreme Commander of the armed forces invested in him. As a further respite to his claim he invited the politicians of Rome to be with him ‘in the field’ if it was to be so that they would like to have a say in how he maneuvered and exacted victory in battle.
Such a communication may not have been graciously received, yet this was a military leader who had been successful in battle and with recent victory. Though Rome was the most democratic republic at that time and its ‘system’ of governance was surely a formidable establishment of rules, principles and laws to which even Marcus Aurelius had to give obeisance to, it is of no doubt that he had made a solid point in not wanting to be micro-managed from far away. Eventually, even victorious Aurelius would have to return and give explanation for how he managed the armed forces. His relationships with the Council mattered. Protecting his relationships with key figures in the Council and the Senate would be essential if he wanted to keep his position and power to lead. Nevertheless, at the time of his writing, it is implied that he was the military face and tip of the spear beyond the gleam of marble and stone of Italy and with him stood the the most advanced fighting warriors ever assembled. At the moment of his communication, he spoke from a position of immediate power.
Example #2: The anomaly of Jesus, the Man-God. Establishing a new relationship with humanity based on love for God and one another.
Another leader, Jesus, suddenly appeared on the scene slightly over two thousand years ago. He derived no power from the existing political order, but brought his own exclusive strength and introduced his own kingdom into the hearts and minds of all around him, even discipling others to spread the word far and wide. His gentle Word moved hearts and minds. Relationships were made on the empowerment of the message Jesus gave. The religious-political order in Israel, itself a satellite nation to Rome at that time, realized that the people loved Him and that their system of dominance vis a vis in relation to the people—was being threatened. They kill him, He returns to life, walks and is seen for forty days and then ascends to heaven in front of hundreds of people. His disciples get persecuted, but his kingdom continues to grow and remains the cornerstone of the foundation in the creation of the United States of America.
Jesus had networked—making enduring, profound, genuine relationships with unblinding speed on the mightiness of His Word and action. He does not direct his disciples to challenge government per se, but to live peaceably in accordance to His Word and the ‘powers that be.’
The United States government is stated in our Constitutional founding documents to be created for Americans, and of Americans as one nation under God. Our human rights are derived from God and enshrined in the Bill of Rights. These give us the freedom to speak freely, to have a free press, to vote for our leaders into and out of ‘office,’ to own land, worship whom and how we please, to own weapons for self-defense, and to rightfully educate ourselves. The laws of our nation, are themselves second to God’s law. In the book known as the perfect law of liberty, the Judeo-Christian Holy Bible, God calls us to be respectful of government, of our officials and dignitaries— ‘of the powers that be,’ even if it be that these are not working in accordance to God’s Word. Order is maintained and peace prevails because of this ingrained directive. How do we go about as respectful, well-mannered, educated, critical thinkers to make America better when we don’t all agree on what that can be? Does how we speak and treat one another matter? The prioritization of national issues gets political. It becomes a —battle of ideas…issues get combative and the use of identity politics as a ‘take down’ strategy reigns supreme.
Answer: We raise up the most altruistic citizens we can create. In such a reality, people innately understand the value of protecting the right to life and the right to empower intellects. Such citizens would invariably be passionate people who care a great deal about others and about the environments we live in. Such people become servant leaders, they are creative, show initiative, are driven to succeed and go the extra mile to make a positive difference. This all begins with a good educational curriculum that understands what kind of citizenry is needed.
Living in a Constitutional Republic wherein each citizen has the right to speak freely, even make claims against or in defense of the management of government leads towards a greater quality of national conversation, and our system of governance benefits. This is healthy.
Example #3: Mohandas Ghandi & Martin Luther King
We can bring forward claims in defense of and against the prevailing government. Our government, as Thomas Jefferson explained, has to be continually remade. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did this and called it civil disobedience in his message that Americans of African descent were being disenfranchised from the benefits of American life. Outside of America, Mohandas Ghandi also practiced civil disobedience as a tactical response against the prevailing system of rule in India at the time. He also put forth that Indians had been made as if employees to a country turned into a company (British East India Company). Both times, each movement was eventually successful in reshaping the system of governance.
Marcus Aurelius’s power was based on his military skill, his success in battle, and in his ability to keep good-standing relationships with those who funded the armed forces he led. Jesus’s power is divine and absolute, he spoke peaceably with power, performed incredible miracles and established a kingdom in the hearts and minds of all who would listen and accept his message. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Ghandi spoke to the hearts and minds of people creating relationships and intellectual, emotional agreements that moved them into action.
In the United states of America, we face a great range of issues:
Our national economy,
the role of energy (traditional and renewable),
global trade flow perspectives as it pertains to the U.S.,
the political change in voting power balance over the next century due to large immigration flows into America,
care for local, national, and global environment,
and the renewed call to protect human life in the womb after nearly 50 years of abortions in the United States—
We have had armed forces in Afghanistan for eighteen years. The balance of power there is tenuous. How does the USA best help and then extricate itself from there? Is supporting that countries economic and security empowerment enough? What have we learned about the efficacy of nation-building when the focus is placed on military solutions rather than localized geoeconomic configurations?
The prioritization of focus, energy and time in solving and managing this varies according to the view point of people. How can the conversation be moved forward and decisive action be taken when great political forces are at odds with the above mentioned issues?
Answer: Increase the level of smart, genuine people.
How do we do that best?
Empower people from a young age to be altruistic, critically thinking servant leaders. Establish the value of be solution-focused, well-mannered citizens who value relationships and caring for others before money.
Strengthen and support entrepreneurship. Altruistic entrepreneurs are leaders, are socially-minded, idea-initiators and generate localized economies. Their mindset is one of being, effective and efficient in solving and/ or addressing social challenges using capitalistic mechanisms.
Relationships matter. Marcus Aurelius took the time to clarify his position with what appears to be great thought and care. Being respectful is important. Jesus and Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., all these were thorough, articulate, thoughtful individuals who clearly understood their role and the importance of their messages. They spoke responsibly. Thinking critically, meaning the ability to have creative thought, analyze, question the validity of a position, bring forward new ideas and evaluate the effect of such is important. Educating Americans to be skilled in critical thinking, public speaking, and written expression are pivotal to the vibrancy of a free and healthy American system of governance. To that end, raising future generations to think altruistically and with care for others places their heart and mind into an empathic perspective, therein increasing quality of life for self and community.