Posts Tagged ‘E pluribus unum’

THE UNITY VERSUS DIVERSITY CONUNDRUM

November 11, 2020

At the onset of this nation’s founding, more than lip service was payed to the concepts of liberty and e pluribus unum, or “from many, one.” Implicit in the latter was diversity as an input and unity as an output. While we haven’t always lived up to this ideal in practice, it’s still a foundational value worth striving for. It’s important to note that the concept of diversity can be applied to the physical and to the arena of ideas. It can be used for good or for evil purposes, a positive relationship manifesting as tolerance and inclusion and its evil counterpart as prejudice and exclusion. So how does this relate to our present condition?

To be a country, we tacitly and voluntarily agree to live under a single umbrella. This umbrella superficially consists of laws, but more substantially a set of values. Under this umbrella are an unlimited number of smaller umbrellas and, depending on how the “groups” are defined and how granular an analysis you want, an infinite number of yet smaller ones exist beneath, culminating in the individual. At every level, like snowflakes, no two umbrellas are alike. When a group decides to place the value of diversity above unity, it reverses the motto to e unum pluribus, and the nation cannot stand. Such a group cites as its rationale examples of intolerance, even reaching as far back into history as necessary, to bolster the importance of diversity over assimilation. Unfortunately, this principle of “tolerance” has been applied to physical characteristics such as skin color and sexual preferences as opposed to diversity of thought.

There is no question that diversity of thought is a prerequisite for innovation and optimal problem-solving (thinking “outside the box”). Like any positive characteristic, in excess it can cause dissension, resentment, and group dissolution by consent or worse, violence. Diversity of physical characteristics and sexual preference add nothing unless, by their presence, imbue the bearer with a diversity of thought that adds to the discussion. It should be neither selected for nor campaigned against. So differences in people are a necessary prerequisite for moving toward a better state of being as long as they can work together to move forward.

At the level of the biggest umbrella, there is room for disagreement in processes and policies; in fact, it’s a prerequisite to navigate the narrow path between chaos and order. At this level, of the nation, there is little room for differences in fundamental values, the glue that cements the union. The alternative leads to balkanization. This country was founded on the principle of God-given rights and individual liberty, with the government’s existence predicated upon serving these values. Paramount among these rights is freedom of speech. The current election results suggest a minimum of half the country supports these values. Of the other half, I suspect at least 20% do as well. I believe two simple questions can determine the portion of the country that would be more comfortable under a different umbrella, i.e, those that truly desire “fundamental change”:

  • Do you believe hate speech is protected speech?
  • Do you favor equality of opportunity over equity?

A “no” answer would suggest a fundamental incompatibility with the Founders’ intent, and I and many others I know would resist attempts to change this with our last breath.

E pluribus unum.

AMERICA DIDN’T BECOME GREAT BY ACCIDENT

July 27, 2020

America has been the greatest world power in history. The relatively young nation achieved a preeminence in influence, wealth and power in an astoundingly brief period of time. Despite those denigrating this as evil, there is a wealth of historical evidence to the contrary that is suppressed or buried using anti-American rhetoric (a few examples: overcoming slavery at great human cost, defeating Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan, and aiding in the fall of the USSR). But that argument is not the point of this rant.

I posit that the rapid ascendance of the US on the world stage occurred precisely because of the values upon which the Union was founded, and a common bond between the people that allowed it to function throughout most of its history as a cohesive nation. First, it was unique in affirming that the government existed to serve the people, rather than the other way around. Second, its Constitution was built on negative rights intended to restrict the government, rather than positive rights, which were acknowledged to come only from God. Third, it employed an economic engine of capitalism, which, when unencumbered, allows the individual to benefit from his/her hard work in proportion to demand for goods and services as determined by free trade. This combination of factors fuels the true engine for success: innovation. People haven’t flocked to America in droves since its inception because it’s a racist nation built on inequity, but because it’s a forum in which, if you have a good idea, you can achieve unimaginable levels of success, regardless of you race, creed, or socioeconomic status. While politically-motivated groups would have you believe otherwise, there is no caste system here. And this is demonstrated almost daily by the “victimized” millionaires decrying the system that made them rich and privileged.

If you doubt that we’ve found the recipe for success, remember the old adage, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” China, one of the most anti-American powers in the world, engaging formally in the group-think that is now starting to gain ascendance here, and committing endless political/humanitarian atrocities that make US corruption appear like a penny-ante poker game to a Las Vegas casino, has been stealing our intellectual property for years. It’s not that they’re not smart enough (on average, academically, Asians outperform other ethnic groups, including Caucasians); it’s that a repressive society run by individuals who think they know how things “should” be will always, in the long term, stifle innovation and choose courses of action that the marketplace, both economically and of ideas, will take far longer to correct. The Chinese have also been smart enough to understand that a socialist economy wouldn’t cut it, but would fizzle out in decades. So they borrowed capitalism which they grafted on to the weak Communist root stock to buy time. And if you measure their success by whether they outlast the US and achieve world superiority, it might work.

I have no illusions but that in the long term the Chinese experiment will fail. History is on my side. Watch what will happen to Hong Kong once they begin installing the mainland China ethos. A country without innovation simply can’t compete in the long run against a free society. The short run, however, is a different animal. At the present time, the sociopolitical climate in America has become alarmingly divided, and the common values that have made us a nation, a potent force to be reckoned with, are failing. From E pluribus unum we’ve gone to E unum pluribus in the name of diversity. Forget the “one nation under God.” We’ve become balkanized, and the effects of this are evident in the heightened racial tensions (ironically following the election, twice, of the first black president) and violence. Equally important, America has now turned inward, providing an opening for tyrannical nations, with China the most important, to take advantage. If we don’t take our heads out of our … the sand, we will all get a taste of what a world without the United States at the helm is really like. And it will make our “systemic racism” look like, well, a penny ante poker game to a Las Vegas casino.