With No Values, the United States Will Never Have Justice
The newspapers from my hometown reported that while on duty, he had carjacked someone at gunpoint. This activity got back to his supervisor, who ordered him to come see him in his office at once. But instead of going back to the office, my classmate shot himself to death.
I thought that he obviously felt embarrassed about what he had done but could not understand why he would not see his boss, even though it would likely mean losing his job. What would cause him to take his own life, which was surely more important?
I wondered if he ever had faced a difficult situation or whether he had ever done something unpopular or even said anything that the majority did not agree with. I could easily recall others I knew in high school facing dilemmas. But not him. He always seemed to be with the "in" crowd. His inexperience with looking or feeling different may have contributed to his suicide.
I learned of another situation about conflicting values from my uncle, Steven Hartwell, a law school professor at the University of San Diego. He brought in a guest to explain an assignment about a client with a legal document in a hypothetical tenant/landlord dispute. She went on to say that the only way for them to win the case would be to lie on the document.
This is the kind of action that gets attorneys disbarred! And yet twenty-three of his twenty-four students gave this advice! People face pressure to win and the pressure intensifies when an authority figure (like a client) pushes for a certain result that contradicts established ethical standards.
I went to hear Oliver Stone speak recently. He talked about problems journalists face when they ask questions about the assassination of John Kennedy. Those who ask, according to Stone, typically find that their sources "dry up" quickly and they have nowhere to go for information.
People make decisions, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. Typically, a person must decide between two choices, each of which represents a value. Those who value popularity spend less time evaluating the substance of the decisions they make and lose sight of what their values are. Those who go against the grain do so at their own peril.
Why do some conform and others do not?
Conformity probably begins at an early age. It is difficult for many of us to be alone for too long. We need friends, companions and others to be around us. As a child moves up through the school ranks, they see that their opinions do matter in terms of landing friends.
A child might hear a question: "Do you like to play football?" and begin to understand that the question is really a way that the questioner divides those whom they know. Other questions can make it clear who is "cool" (i.e. friendly or likable) and who is not: "Do you party?" or "Did you study for that exam?"
By the time they become adults, those who answer too many of these questions with the minority find themselves on the "outs" of their community. And the questions get more tricky.
"What do you think of people who put up signs for same-sex marriage?" (or people "who support flag-burning" or people "who oppose the death penalty") any other topic in an area in which the topic is not popular). We may say that questions like these are not appropriate at places such as the work site, but we also know that people ask them and we know that silence or "No comment" can and will be used against the person responding in such a manner.
Those who ask such questions communicate what they expect of others. Those who answer with the crowd likely gain more friends or acquaintances. But they may lose their sense of who they are and what they believe.
How does the issue of conformity apply to our nation?
I believe a lot of people are looking for someone or some group to validate their opinions. The Tea Party has become a symbol for those who say they are frustrated with our government. As I have noted before, the Tea Party focuses much of its "platform" against taxes and government spending. Many of those who claim to be with the Party also vent their anger against illegal immigration as well.
The Tea Party has chosen to be for what is popular (and against what is not): no one ever says they don't get taxed enough. Government spending can be measured in the trillions, a number most cannot fathom. And illegal immigration is, well, illegal.
One needs to dig deeply into analysis to understand that each of these issues is more complicated than the Tea Partiers let on. Taxes will always be necessary to allow society to assist individuals in ways they cannot do for themselves, such as making roads, maintaining street lights and maintaining order. Because of these common needs, we will always have a government that taxes and spends. As for illegal immigrants, the simple fact that many people are unwilling to do jobs that people emigrate here to do keeps this issue in play.
But popularity, often derived through polls and the mainstream media, does not reflect reason as well as emotion. Many people still conform to ideas that should have been discarded by now:
Osama bin Laden did 9/11 (even the FBI acknowledges a lack of evidence for this idea) http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=2623
Barack Obama is a socialist (the United States Socialist Party has denounced him) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20019089-503544.html
The United States is a Christian Nation (there is no mention of God or Christianity in our most important document, the Constitution)
Our nation is lost and probably always has been. We have thrived on military might to get what we want from the rest of the world and we have, through educational institutes, told children to worship the flag by encouraging the repetition of the Pledge of Allegiance the way churches tell them to believe in the superiority of their religion. Worshipers conform and do not question authority or much else around them.
Of course they do not all take their own lives, commit fraud or shun those who seek the truth. They just see their own image and not their true selves in the decisions they make, perhaps the biggest tragedy of all.