Where We Focus Our Efforts

The United States lags behind other countries in many respects, despite being wealthier, and in most instances also more populous. We have more money and hours than most other major world powers and developed nations to dedicate to the things we consider important.

And so why are things like poverty, health care, and education not doing better? Could the answer be as simple as because we are not dedicating ourselves to changing those things?

The quote from David Pakman in the image focuses on Christian leaders. But I doubt that anyone from politicians to parents is immune from the criticism.

I have had some wonderful conversations in my First Year Seminar class recently. The students had been reading Plato's Republic, and thus as we reached the last section, we talked about why Plato judges democracy the second worst type of rule, beat for last place only by tyranny. I think they agreed that, even if we find democracy of the sort that we have to be preferable to alternatives, the criticisms Plato offers need to be listened to and taken into account. We often prioritize freedom over all else, including the well-being of society. And as long as the right to be ill-informed and yet vote, and to be free not to cooperate with others for the well-being of all. Is sacrosanct, there is a significant likelihood that certain social issues will not be dealt with adequately if at all.

 

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    One word: Spite.

    “Spite-voters also lack the sense that they have any stake in the future of the country.”

    Spite the Vote
    nypress.com/spite-the-vote/

  • http://tunabay.com/ Keika

    My response to the quote by Mr. Pakman.

    The solutions to those problems you crave, Mr. Pakman, are stalled because the anti-religious left want no solutions to be found, and blame the religious right for the ills of the world. They want to keep the broken welfare state as it is, because that’s the vote that keeps them in office. And one way of doing this, is to take God out of the classroom and to fund education with lottery ticket sales.

    • Michael Wilson

      I don’t think God should be in state class rooms, Keika, and I don’t share the views of the religious right on abortion, gays, or biblically based laws, but I think it would be arrogant to ask religious preachers to drop their religious concerns and spend all their time chatting up freemarket economic policies. Should we ask that rabbis stop wasting time wondering what’s kosher or Buddhist to quit meditating and get a productive job? Of course, Pakman probably doesn’t think freemarket friendly solution are real solutions, so what he is arguing is that we would all be so much better off if every one agreed with him. Perhaps the skilled orator we elected president would like to spend less time preaching about gays and abortion and find some real solutions to our problems. Better yet, lets stop listining to all these hucksters and snake-oil salesmen, opps, “skilled orators”.

      • http://tunabay.com/ Keika

        You make good points, Michael, and if I disagree with you, it is only about returning God to the classroom. As we pledge allegiance to the flag of this incredibly blessed nation, we should pause to give thanks to the previous generations of brave people who sacrificed their lives for freedom and yes, for democracy. The freedom to be stupid if we wish. Under God.

        Democracies fail, because those smooth talking snake-oil salesmen you mention, win the votes of the under-educated and ignorant populace; who don’t have to show a photo ID to vote, and even vote when they are dead. With friendly mass media in their pockets, these confidence men get laws passed that take away freedom and rights from the educated and informed minority. With a hidden agenda to destroy the common good heritage of the nation, they make laws that take away the stigma of unemployment and food stamps. They preach that unemployment checks stimulate the economy. That healthcare for all will save everyone $2500 a year and that the IRS hasn’t a smidgen of corruption. That the rich should pay their fair share, while they themselves take million dollar vacations and golf 400 times in five years. I could ramble on, but I think you and I are together on this topic. Cheers!

        • Michael Wilson

          Keika, I don’t mind the pledge of allegiance. It’s conception of God is nebulous enough in my opinion to be considered secular. It’s meaning within the pledge is simply that the United States is not God. There are forces in the world greater than the nation or the state. It’s good to keep that in mind and be humble. At the time those words were added to the pledge of allegiance there were states in the world that denied any such limitation on their authority. I would like to modify my earlier response though. There is a difference between following a complicated set of taboos or self indulgent spirituality and advocating for anti-social policies, and I do believe that their can be religious practices that aren’t helpful at various levels. I do try to be open minded about what might be good religion. Just because I don’t keep kosher doesn’t mean that no one should but I do think that no one should discriminate against gays. The point I was trying to make is that its a little arrogant to demand religious leaders to shill for partisan political causes or public policy beyond the scope of their expertise.

  • Gary
  • Michael Wilson

    James, could it be that dedication to solving a problem is not always the same as solving a problem? Total comitment to a bad solution wont solve a problem. Though one could counter argue that people that pursue a bad solution with total commitment are really commited to an imagined solution and not actually solving a problem. Fidel Castro wanted to make Cuba a better place and has been totaly dedicated, but he has failed. Why? Because he thinks he has the solution. For some loving everyone is an ego trip.

    Regarding Plato James, Republic was a staple of European monoarchist thinking, and historically they weren’t wrong. In a society where freedom meant the right to bloodfued and explotation of outsiders, the only solution is to try and make the masses submit. If all the world disapeared except for some prison island, the guards would be fools to call for a vote from the people regarding who should rule. We, however are different than Plato’s Greece, we have been disciplined to be gentle. But be careful James, when you say we can’t solve our problens if the ill informed vote, are you saying there should be a literacy test? We used to have those in the south.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      We didn’t talk about literacy so much as about the fact that those who vote for representatives often know little about the matters in which they will be represented, such as law-making and economics. Sometimes those elected have no expertise in such matters, either.

      We also talked about the elements of oligarchy in our democracy, since without money you have little chance of being elected.

      The point was not to denigrate democracy, but to see what we can learn from the evaluation of it by this particular thinker. I’ve already emphasized that it is OK to disagree even with Plato and Socrates!

  • Ryan Hite

    That’s because the Republicans invented Republichristianity so that the rich could stay in power. The rich are few in number, so they need a large amount of naive people to vote on their side without even knowing it.

  • Nancy R.

    This may be a bit beside the point, but Osteen does not belong in that graphic as he is not part of the religious right. He preaches a self-serving prosperity gospel but avoids the culture issues that define the religious right.


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