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Vacillating Values, Vanishing Vigilance

(Editor's note about the author: T.O. Illustratio is a free lance writer and observer of the interaction of personalities in everyday life. The author seeks to inspire readers to look within themselves to see how much good they can do in this world when a definitive purpose in life is clear.)

 

"Time and circumstances can slowly sweep away our ideals and values. Much like age takes away some energy, adds some inches around the waistline, and diminishes eyesight, everyday life compounded by years on earth can slowly, almost stealthily peel away long-held values and principles.

 

It isn’t even that we don’t continue to hold the values close to our hearts, but rather that life can wear us out in some cases. And in other instances, life has provided a comfortable spot, so comfortable that we might barter with our own values, let down our principled internal guard and cut some virtue corners to maintain those comfortable spots. Think about the trusted accountant who can’t resist the urge to skim a few dollars each month off the books. After all, they won’t miss a little bit here and there, will they? If we aren’t always vigilant, those values will vanish.

 

Vacillating Values

 

In our country, the plan was for representative majority democracy to set the rules and determine the pathway forward. There would be room for disagreements, but this idea of majority rule, while still hearing the voice of the minority would guide our values, uppermost that all people were created equal and were endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Such a lofty ambition was this ideal of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the written value of all people being created equal, it would indeed be difficult to protect. A flaw in the majority rule arrangement, that could be considered the worst form of government, except when compared to any other form of government, is that sometimes the majority is wrong.

 

Sometimes collective values vacillate. Sometimes all of us in the majority in a particular time in history lose sight of those two paramount values of equal rights for all and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sometimes maintaining our own comfort and status causes us to overlook the fate of the minority in our spot in the world.

 

At one time, a majority of our population was accepting of some humans held in forced bondage, considered to be property rather than human. At one time, a majority of our population at least among the male portion decided the female humans were not entitled to have a voice, a vote in this majority democracy.

 

It took a minority voice led largely by the youth of our nation, not yet beat down by daily life struggles and still clinging to an ideology of being able to bring about positive change, to actually bring that change. This youthful ideology and energy would serve to remind the majority of these values that had vacillated and maybe vanished.

 

Vanishing Vigilance

 

For those of you who are either over the whole religious thing or at least skeptical, you might want to skip to the next section. But maybe your interest will be piqued and you might might to stick around with us?

 

As this column is written, much of the “religious world” is at least partially focused on the final week of the human form of Jesus. Take a look at the historical part of this story and compare it to today. Have we gotten better or are things eerily similar?

 

We had titled religious persons telling their listeners how best to find heaven. They spoke of sacrifice to the collections sent out by these titled religious persons. They spoke of caring for the sick and disadvantaged and offered long homilies about the noble value of following “the law.”

 

But these same titled religious persons got uncomfortable when the carpenter from Nazareth came forward and not only taught people, mostly young people to do those things, he modeled the way with his personal interactions. He actually wanted those titled persons to do as they told others to do.

 

Worse yet, this carpenter called out these comfortable religious persons for setting aside values in favor of protecting their own comfort. As the story goes, righteous indignation followed and the comfortable religious persons first tried a smear campaign to arouse the majority to ignore this "obviously misguided" carpenter.

 

When that failed they used their proven ace card. They called in a higher power, in this case the Roman occupiers to do their dirty work and they killed off the threat. The comfortable life continued and the money flowed into their coffers.

 

When Values Are Overshadowed

 

How often today do we allow the drive of good works, the initiative to keep the notion of equal rights for all to be subjugated in favor of maintaining personal comfort? Look around and see if you think those values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are truly in every one of us? Are equal rights even a possibility? Is that noble vision just a speck of lost history?

 

There is an old quote that states, 'I don’t look at things that are and ask why? I look at things that are not and ask why not?' In our American chronicles there have been segments of human life that have not been valued. Why not?

 

There have been swaths of the population that have not been granted equal rights and the pursuit of happiness. Why not?

 

Our own values have vacillated and our vision has slowly started to vanish. Maybe we got tired? Maybe we got distracted? Maybe we need to look at things that are not such as equal rights for every human and ask, 'Why not?'

 

I would propose one jumping off point. Why not take one part and start there? Why not value all human life? Just like that carpenter did so long ago."

 

Written by T. O. Illustratio

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