This is my Creed
Do You ever wonder just what God requires? You think he’s just an errand boy to satisy your wandering desires?
Yes I am critical of the lives of those Founders of America who owned slaves or let the institution of slavery survive for so long in the new country. Yes I think it a travesty that we downplay this critical thread of our history and ignore our national participation in a holocaust. You might think this puts me in the group of historians who take that information and draw political solutions to today’s problems from that position, but that would not be true. I do feel a kinship to those who feel that they are still suffering from those lies and want to address them, but not with those who feel that all solutions to today’s problems stem from hypocrisies of the past. As much as America’s past is filled with horrible truths, many of which have been ignored or downplayed, it has remained a nation of great opportunity thanks in part to these same Founders. I cannot help but give some credence to the idea that the rights of individuals which was clumsily and hypocritically established in the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution and the Constitution is continually leading us towards a more perfect union. I have faith in that process. In fact, it is my faith in that process that requires me to examine and expose the brutal truth of our founding and its persistence in our institutions. I consider this my contribution to the American Experience.
I am an American naïve. I begin with the unprovable notion that God has put me in this place and given me certain gifts for a reason which is beyond my understanding. Deep in my soul I feel an obligation to fulfil my gifts not as a benefit to the State or to myself, neither of which gave the gifts to me, but to the maker who did. The saddest thing then is my knowledge then that there are perhaps billions of people on earth who cannot fulfill their lives due to poverty, sickness, lack of education, oppression or self-delusion. These then are the enemies of human existence. Anything done to relieve these barriers is God’s work.
As I see it, we are each compelled to live a double life. We must use our gifts as best we can to succeed in the world as it exists. Born artists must paint, born scientists must explore and explain our physical world, born historians and journalists must explore and explain the past and present, and born entrepreneurs must improve the means of distribution. Each person doing what they have been called upon to do best maximizes the most valuable resource on earth, human energy. Yet, in a world where so many cannot succeed in fulfilling their lives, we are each equally called upon to a second life; to undertake some actions to help remove the barriers which prevent others from doing the same. Whether we are fulfilling our own destiny or the destiny of others is of no moment to the world; in either case human energy is maximized. The thought that society is best off when we all only satisfy our own desires is both delusional and dangerous. Extreme conservatives and religious zealots share a philosophy that invariably leads to more oppression, less education and impenetrable barriers. Seriously…do you really believe that is what God wants, to stifle all that human energy? As I am known to say about many things…it just makes no sense.
Which brings me back to politics. I tend to be left of center not because I think that the government can or should solve America’s problems. Quite the opposite. I think that providing food and health care to everyone, especially children, helps fulfil their ability to achieve their human potential and solve their own life’s problems. I believe that the removal of oppressive barriers in the workplace or the voting booth also is vital in helping individuals to increase their human potential. And yes, I believe that accurately telling the stories of history reduces self-delusion and is part of the process that will also increase society’s human potential. I do not deny a point of many who disagree; that whenever government gives someone something, it may be stifling the very inspiration which leads to individual success and to the maximizing of human energy. Nor do I disagree that when the government seeks to fix a problem, it often does so in a meddlesome way that serves to oppress rather than inspire. I am also in basic agreement with the conservative notion that in the ultimate best society everyone will work hard and the poor will pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The problem is that the barriers are everywhere and are often impenetrable without some kind of help. It will always require some balance to help those who need help getting through without stifling them or the rest of us. That is what politics is for and again, I have great faith in the process. That is the process set up by our Founders who did a pretty good job giving us tools to figure out the way out of whatever current mess we find ourselves in. Despite their unforgiveable frailties, our Founders have given us a great gift and we owe it to our maker and to ourselves to use our other gifts to help them and us fulfil the noblest ideas of creation.