The possession of power unavoidably spoils the free use of reason. Immanuel Kant   Leave a comment

Some days a person just wants a rainbow, a unicorn, cupcakes with smiley faces, or if feeling more grown-up maybe a cabin by a lake with a little red canoe, a place where ladybugs abound, and dragonflies alight with such grace it causes one to wonder, and in this place there is time to wonder.

But there are no unicorns, and not many of us have cabin getaways, so our wonder is  focused too often on what is not calm, gentle, and kind. That is not to say that Americans take for granted all that they have to be grateful for, and one of the best qualities of  Americans is our ability to take charge and make changes. We have brave examples like Rosa Parks who decided one day that she was more than tired of the way things were. and she sat down for what was “right” on that bus in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. Her action resulted in a bus boycott and the desegregation of  Montgomery, Alabama and elsewhere in the United States.

In Psychology 101, most students are taught  the concepts of  Abraham Mazlow, and his theory called Mazlow’s Hierarchy, which is most often displayed as a pyramid. The lowest levels of the pyramid are made up of the most basic needs, while the more complex needs are located at the top of the pyramid. Needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep and warmth. Once these lower level needs have been met, people can move on to the next level of needs, which are for safety and security. As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social. Soon, the need for love, friendship and intimacy become important. Further up the pyramid, the need for personal esteem and feelings of accomplishment take priority. Maslow emphasized the importance of self-actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person to achieve individual potential. If a person does not have food or shelter, dragonflies, or ladybugs would be of little importance. Did you know that a ladybug beats its wings 85 times a second when it flies? And that a ladybug’s spots fade as the ladybug ages. There are too many children and families who will not be focusing on beauty, grace or wonder because of the facts below found on the website                                                                                                                                                    * Over 50 million US citizens are living in poverty.

* The US now has the HIGHEST poverty rate in the industrialized world.

* 50% of American children will need to use a food stamp during their childhood.

* 30 million Americans are in need of employment, with 20% of Americans either unemployed, underemployed or without hope of finding work.

* In the past two years, Americans have lost $5 trillion from their pensions and savings. They have also lost $13 trillion in the value of their homes.

* The US now has the HIGHEST inequality of wealth in our nation’s history. The economic top 1% controls an all-time record 70% of all financial assets.

* The average CEO salary, including stock options and incentives, has skyrocketed and is now 500 times more than the average workers.

* While CEO salaries have been soaring and corporate profits are breaking all-time records, average worker pay is declining and incentives are being cut.

CEOs seem to have little regard for workers, much less if they have opportunities to become self-actualized.  A study was done recently with pregnant rats. Nesting boxes were built for the rats to have their litters. Nesting material was placed in the boxes, but not quite enough nesting material was given to the mama rats. They tried to prepare for the birth anyway and placed the nesting material in one corner, but it was not right, so they tried another corner and another until they were feeling a bit frantic. They gave birth and tried again to build a nest for their babies, but again they felt anxious because they did not have what they needed for their children. They began neglecting the infant rats, then became abusive as they tried to make nests without adequate resources. The study reinforces Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs as the mother rat’s basic needs were not met, they could not focus on nurturing their young.

How do Americans who value individualism, independence, and progress, balance those ideals with moral obligation, and belief in the Declaration of Independence that states that every man is created equal? School children recite the Pledge of Allegiance and many people desire that the words “One nation under God” be left in the passage, but few would agree with  the following from Leviticus. Every 50 years, God said, he wanted all land to return to the original owners — without compensation. Physical handicaps, death of a breadwinner, or less natural ability might bring some people to become poorer than others. But God did not want such disadvantages to lead to greater and greater extremes of wealth and poverty among his people. Hence a means was prescribed to equalize land ownership every 50 years (Lev. 24:10-24).

Landowners would not be in favor of  returning their land to the original owner.  Today, corporations have the same rights as citizens. In an article by Joel Bleifss in “These Times Magazine,” February 1998, Bleifuss writes: Corporations can’t cast a ballot, but they do vote with their wallets. In the 1995-96-election cycle, corporations and corporate PACs contributed $147 million to candidates running for federal office. The United States is one of the few democracies where such donations are legal. The Supreme Court affirmed the right of corporations to pay for electoral campaigns in the 1978 case First National Bank v. Bellotti. Writing for the majority, Justice Lewis Powell explained that giving cash to influence the outcome of an election “is the type of speech indispensable to decision making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual.” Although courts now permit government regulation of business, corporations have managed to retain the First Amendment rights they were granted. Few, if any, mainstream voices consider the question: Should corporations have the same rights as people have? Corporations based in the United States wield vast economic and political power. They can live forever. They feel no pain. They do not need clean air to breathe, potable water to drink or healthy food to eat. Their only goal is to grow bigger and more powerful. Rather than treating these institutions as if they were flesh and blood, the political and legal system should acknowledge the fact that corporations are merely one way that people organize themselves to do business. They are not “endowed by the creator with unalienable rights” but rather are human-made creatures that can just as easily be unmade if they cease to serve a worthwhile public function.

Philosopher Immanuel Kant had much to say about morality and freedom. Kant describes morality as the limiting of oneself from engaging in certain behaviors because they are “immoral,” and believes doing this is the highest expression of the concept of freedom.

Being wealthy does not mean a person is immoral and being poor certainly does not ensure morality, but being poor due to injustice does create fertile ground for anger, depression, hopelessness and according to Mazlow little chance of self-actualization, and would we not want all of our citizens to have the right to life, liberty, self-actualization and the pursuit of happiness, with time and place to wonder about the lives of ladybugs and dragonflies?


Posted August 15, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Essays

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