First, let us understand that politics is only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to societal health, so the current political uproar is only symptomatic of a deeper cultural malady. That malady (which can be — and is — lethal) is rooted in values, and it is America's national signature values that are under overt attack today. The values in direst peril are the very leitmotif of our historic exceptionalism: liberty, individualism, and reason being the primary founding values from which all others flow, with "liberty" being the fountainhead.
Like our country, each of us has values that constitute our unique identity, and it is this personal value system that can sustain us during times of supreme conflict. Just because America is suffering identity conflict it does not mean that we personally must also suffer identity conflict. An intriguing, self-revealing exercise to explicitly identify one's own primary animating principle is to reduce our personal value hierarchy down to a single concept in the same way "liberty" has always been the prime animating principle for the country. Suggesting this idea to others, I have heard words such as "Independence, Relentlessness, Curiosity, Honesty, Hope, Justice, Original, Reason, Authenticity, and Fortitude." My personal prime value is "Truth."
Whatever the answer to this question may be, all humans are born with the faculty of reason, so we each have the ability to consciously choose the values that define us as unique individuals according to our own particular philosophical system, if we will but do so. Reasoning — thinking logically — is not automatic; it must be learned, practiced, and cross-checked with verifiable existential facts to make sure that conclusions are consistent with healthy psychological and physical existence. Human nature also includes the inborn ability to activate autonomy and strive toward desired goals and achieve that which we love. As the wise 13th century Thomas Aquinas philospher opined, "what we choose to love reveals who we are."
It is our own personal value system that can help each of us survive the tumultuous cultural chaos now raging at the very threshold of our culture's identity via severe political turmoil, including physical violence. And regardless of the present monumental outside threats, it is precisely this internal security that can strengthen us against the ever-mounting ideological storms. Whatever external demands may hinder or harm our physical well-being, the sanctity of our own self-created soul cannot be touched if we stand firm for our values in the privacy of our own mind.
It is demonstrably obvious that America's prime value of liberty is under siege. Collectivism in any of its forms — socialism, fascism, communism, or progressivism — are all the same in practice and strive vigorously to rob us of physical liberty. Political correctness strives to rob us of free speech, the expression of mental liberty. Falsely created group-oriented tribal victimization or falsely proclaimed group-oriented tribal privilege strives to rob us of individuality liberty. Free market capitalism, the only moral system of economic and personal liberty, is already underwater from the rapidly approaching collectivist tsunami.*
Of course it is crucial to fight for liberty. Of course it is crucial to fight against those who would rob us of our liberties for personal power. Of course it is crucial to denounce not only tyrannical ideas themselves but also the ideologues who would implement the ideas or others in support of the individuals or groups who would implement those ideas.
Yet it is equally crucial to understand that no one can rob us of our own sacred life-serving values. Person and property can be plundered but not our souls. As we soldier on to protect our liberty, let us never forget that those freedom-oriented values may be tempted, trampled, and trashed but ... they never can be destroyed. Not while we as individuals hold them sacred to our minds and hearts, living our lives with a dignity that honors our birthright of sovereignty, and by achieving and retaining an inner peace, an inner place called The Still Point that is ours alone because We the People cannot exist nor survive without every individual first becoming a worthy "I."
THE STILL POINT**
There is a place if we earn it and own it
A Center unique if we each will but know it
Where the mind is cold and honest and true
Yet passions burn like fires renewed
But it's not the "Still Point" of poets' renown
Where opposites meet or typhoons becalm
It's active and full of growing and glowing
My center is I, a Self that is mine
For here is where pleasure and pain combine
To create my days and my soul define
Our Center is all, so let each take heed
What we make of ourselves is who we shall be
It's only in death we meet Still Point of fame
While the world spins on not remembering our name
Time cannot be stopped, nor the cry of the dove
So celebrate life and all that you love
Each moment, each "now," while you dance here on earth
Is eternity's gift, every morning's rebirth
For we must decline. Alas! None are divine
Make it fun, make it fine, make it sweet and sublime
Not to live while alive is the only crime
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader's Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Soul Celebrations and Spiritual Snacks." Read Alexandra York's Reports — More Here.
*All of these governmental systems are explained thoroughly in my LYING AS A Way of Life: Corruption and Collectivism Come of Age in America e-book monograph.
** The poem and certain parts of this article dealing with values are excerpted from my latest book SOUL CELEBRATIONS AND SPIRITUAL SNACKS.
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