Things that prevent society from achieving harmony are temptations to that objective. Temptations are reasons to go against the greater good of the group, self-serving over the greater good, convenience over what is right, giving into fear over doing the right thing.
The written law is actually a code to ensure we don’t give into many temptations at the expense of the group. Whether that is theft, assault, murder or business practices like building codes, environmental regulations, labor regulations and safety regulations. The law encourages all of us to be a better form of ourselves by identifying temptations, ensuring they are not taken, and enforced if needed. Yes, self-destructive habits such as drugs are included because we are a society that cares for each other. Watching one self-destruct at the mercy of a drug hurts the collective.
Not all temptations are in the law, however. In politics, there are temptations such as under-taxing, giving into the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable, seeking pride by forsaking morality, and forgoing diplomacy. If cops and judges are the enforcer of the written law then goodwill politicians are those who fight against these temptations. In truth, the law only matters if human beings say it matters. Otherwise it can be the excuse given by the strongman that dictates law.
The principle political temptations we face:
When we do something, we aren’t supposed to it is usually because of some combination of pride, convenience and fear.
Fear of the Foreign/Unknown – We grow fond of what is familiar and fear what we don’t understand. Some of our greatest fears are ill founded based on what could be. Some leaders play off these fears using different races, nations, religions, immigration, lifestyles to divide us to their own ends. We would rather give into the strongmen we are familiar with than deal with the unknown. When there is needed change in society it is hard to make because of this fear, but it is being stagnant that has brought the downfall of many more countries and companies than proactive change. Even in hostage situations the hostages will eventually look to the hostage taker for security.
Fear of pride vulnerability – Avoiding the doctor, avoiding asking for help, avoiding confrontation, taking the fearful/non vulnerable position in things that are uncertain like federal spending, diplomatic relations, or the safety net. Giving up on hope.
Protecting Pride – Defiance to Moral Authority / Spite – Supporting left wing policies can be similar to creating a marketing campaign for a child to clean his room. It’s not necessarily a logical problem but an emotional problem, especially when many are willing to support our rebellious tendencies. Those telling us to care for each other, the environment, the poor, sustainability, don’t litter, eat healthy, prevent forest fires are not the enemy. Distaste toward Hollywood activists, do good cars, do good diets, elites etc. falls in this category. Complexity on important issues leads to insecurity. Short of actual fear, the need for humans to protect their pride and their insecurities can be a high priority.
Right wing rally support for oil drilling and coal mining isn’t an altruistic support for those laborers. They are protecting their own pride. Anger itself is often a way to avoid sadness or insecurity. Conservative media are those willing and able to act with confidence to put down the name idealists and goodwill thinkers of the day thus protecting the pride of the listener. The more confident and angrier they appear the more popular and better they are able to carry out this purpose.
How anger is created in politics:
Causes > Goodwill/Thought/Conscience > Change/Resources > Insecurity/Fear > Anger/Spite > Counter Anger/Frustration from Goodwill
Going after counter anger will not solve anything. That is the last step. The insecurity and fear leading to anger must be addressed. A society with meaning, purpose, and joy doesn’t exist without the capability to have shame.
Cheap Group Pride – Becoming part of a group that dehumanizes others. You are special because you were born this way or are part of this group that is better than others. A way to achieve pride without doing creative work or facing fear. Bringing down the pride of those around you to increase yours…bullying, imperialism, gangs, Enron culture in business.
Seeking Pride – Seeking authority and power for yourself or your group at the expense of greater civilization and its values, power tripping.
Convenience – Stress and Problem Avoidance – when we have a problem or an insecurity, we want it to go away. The right will often use words like family or jobs or economy as excuses and fear creators to avoid problems of the day.
Convenience – Individual or smaller group before the collective – protectionism, acting in a lazy manner, dehumanizing others that may place a burden on you. Putting instant gratification over the long term. Self-serving and short term thinking tax cuts and asset bubbles.
Convenience / Protecting Pride – Simplifying and Dividing Around Absolutes – simplifying your political identity into an all-in position on a moral gray area the human conscience doesn’t understand. Moving away from hard truths on things that are important to an absolute on something that doesn’t require work or courage.
Convenience – Common Enemy – Many times in groups we are highly sensitive to not talking bad about anyone within the group but talk smack of others to create a common enemy to bring the group together around. Gossip and our inability to keep secrets are also related to trying to form bonds. By taking this stance I belong to this tribe as defined by our enemy (this tribe) and I create my place in the tribe by spiting the enemy.