Civic Morality

Human society has for thousands of years adopted a personal morality—a code of behavior deemed correct and proper and by which individuals could be judged as good or bad.

For American children, a personal morality might be reflected by whether Santa Claus judges them as naughty or nice.

What America lacks today is a civic morality—a code of behavior of individuals as citizens, a set of obligations to their country and responsibilities for their country. A morality that is focused on their relationships with their country.

With a civic morality we could have real dialog with each other about:

Today Americans have no common vocabulary for discussing the needs, conditions, and behaviour of our country and its government. Without this vocabulary we are at the mercy of the power-hungry and of the greedy who would prefer to use our country and government to benefit themselves exclusively. Our country has been hijacked and we have difficulty recognizing it, let alone opposing it.

We citizens have been encouraged to think we have only two ways to interact with and influence our country and government: as voters and as consumers. Of course there is a third way—as taxpayers—but we are discouraged from thinking about that. Those of us who are government employees, a position that might be considered an honor and a privilege, are being denied worker rights and employment benefits. Our participation as citizens is shrinking.

Capitalism as practiced in America today is destructive to the principles of the independent republic that was formed in 1776. It has acquired the rights of the citizens and superseded the citizens and even the government itself. The nature of its threat to freedom and democracy is real and tremendous.

And yet we have acquiesced to the notion that capitalism is the finest expression of America. We have no common vocabulary—no civic morality—with which to see capitalism as it really is. Thus we are unable to even pose the questions: What is the proper role of capitalism in America? How should it participate with we citizens to form a more perfect union? How should its wings be clipped?

As school children we are taught that America was founded on the separation of church and state. A little simplistic, but then we treat our children as simpletons. Amazingly enough capitalism has gained much of the persona of a church, a church that is no longer separate from the state. No longer separate and taking over. Our government is now the lackey of capitalism. When the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center fell, our president told us to go shopping . . . and we did not protest.

We permit our government to perform a sham research into what really happened on 9-11-2001; the truth is not be be found in its report. We permit our government to abandon the residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We permit our government to destabilize the Middle East, causing hundreds of thousands to die and millions to become refugees.

Our government acts in our names and with our money. Surely we need to see its truth, to judge that truth against a morality, and to act to return it to its proper course.

Created: 4-7-2007.