Our obligation to "society."

on Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where does our "society" begin and end? Are we not obligated to England and their infrastructure, schools, security, roads, capital, and so on? And what about the men and women that moved to this nation from foreign lands? Are they not indebted to the roads and schools that they were raised with? Shouldn't we be paying taxes to myriad foreign-governments because many Americans depended upon their infrastructure to become wealthy?

If something magical happened when the United States was formed, why didn't that magic happen when Texas was formed, or New York City was formed? Both have their own governments; what makes their founding any different than that of the United States?

If we would like to claim that we are obligated to the society that came before us, we must define the word "society" before anyone can hope to understand our meaning. And in defining the term we will find difficulty unless we plan to include the entire world in our circe-jerk of obligation, or unless we wish to draw an arbitrary line at our federal border, which implies that non-Americans' lives are worth less than American lives, because otherwise we would be paying taxes to support them, too, as our morality demands of us regarding other Americans.

None of us would be where we are today without the support of thousands of years to progress all over the world, but that doesn't justify an obligation to an artificial construct (society) that is inherently elitist. Americans agreeing to become obligated to each other is a bit like the Rockefeller family saying the same of anyone with their last name. We are Americans in name only, and we are the richest and most powerful nation on earth. From the outside, a desire to support fellow Americans seems as patently cold and greedy as an internal discussions by one of the world's most powerful families to collude to do the same.

Drawing lines in the sand and creating an "us vs them" mentality doesn't help, as much as we intuitively feel that it is beneficial. It's human nature to support our own kind, but we must realize that "our own kind," must morally include the entire world (unless we accept elitism). And if you're not about to give away 80% of your yearly income (an American in "poverty" is richer than 80% of the world) to support the dying-masses on planet earth, you are just as evil as the "rich" here in our home country. Their excuse is ultimately the same as your excuse. Any defense you can offer will be just as effective if used to defend "greed" on Wall Street, or the desire of wealthy Americans to keep what they earn.

This type of reasoning is what led me to examine this world-view in depth, and think about other ways to help the world. I've discovered that helping each other out doesn't mean what we think it means.

We are not islands that exist independently of other human beings, but we cannot place ourselves into groups without excluding other, equally valued, human beings from our elite group. The logically conclusion of this line of reasoning is that each human being must be given his or her own sovereignty, and respected enough to make his or her own decisions--the same freedom, respect, and dignity that nation-states are today (mostly) permitted.