Ah 2020, what a way to show us the meaning of hindsight being as clear as 20/20 vision. The journey and trajectory or society into entrenched ideologies where we cannot have discussions-debates of discovery to move forward in healthy ways as a community. How do we know this? The rise of populism in the last 10 years that has not been matched since the 1930’s, whether you fall on the right or the left. I still remember the political spectrum exercise of public school social studies, that illustrated so clearly populism on the right becomes fascism, on the left, goes through communism to Stalinist dictatorship which connects clearly with Fascism as the same point—that is extremists are extremists—anger, hatred, dehumanization, inability to see the other–the continuing discussion on dualism, for one’s side to be correct the other has to be completely evil (looking for a villain or an enemy every under every bushel).

As I continue exploring ending the false myth of the protestant work ethic evolved into neo-liberalism and by continued evolution, capitalism of 2020, and getting back together the writings of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks have been informative. His latest, being 2020’s Morality: Restoring the common Good in Divided Times. Where in five parts he takes the reader through an exploration of the philosophical-sociological-historical-political and religious paradigms that have brought us to this point in history.

As Sacks works through his theory and thoughts, it builds to a pertinent epilogue on our divided times and hyper-individualism had negatively impacted the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing measures. As an Albertan, I would say the myth of hyper-individualism continues to impact our effectiveness in stemming the covid tied, but also in our ability to destroy public institutions that aid the common good such as public education and health care.

How does Sacks get us to these ponderances? He takes us through the history as noted. He lays out the philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists. As well he explores the role religion plays in morality, but also what it means and how religions’ has been used to shape societal understanding. At the example level out of the Hebrew Bible he touches on the story of Korach in the book of Numbers, more broadley, he also looks at the Reformation and the shift away from works in Christendom to a Pauline individual grace. This begins the slide slowly, which has accelerated in recent years with the addition of social media and the internet to not only connect us 24-7-365, but let’s be honest, to make it easier to share false information more rapidly before fact checking can disprove, and as such, the falsity takes root in some as the truth.

That is even before we explore (as I have written about many times) the algorithms that aid in keeping us in a an echo chamber of our own belief systems. This is the piece that explored what it means to have an ethical market. But to combine those thought processes, as the trust level of politicians continues to devolve, what is our role of citizens in accountability with this? Do we demand and expect a higher level of character within those seeking office? Are we working to end it as the drive of personal ambition, power and money? It has been a steady shift from 2005 forward in Canada within our political landscape, as the hyper-vigilance towards individualism and privatization of crown corporations and government responsibilities continues to march forward. The concept of collective or common good, public service (regardless of whether we trusted the policies) to serve citizens being the goal and calling.

This is but one snap shot for reflection.

As we look at a moment in time when we can continue into the fallacy of “I” (how independent are we? Building our own cars? Pouring our own roads? Growing our own food? Refining our own oil? And no, this is literally asking about in your own home are you able to do all this?). How did you get where you are today? What pieces were at play in the interdependence of community? How is your purpose cultivated? What is belonging and identity? How does it happen in the vacuum of “I”?

What it doesn’t? It happens in the labyrinth of “WE” and yes you are correct.

So how, do we, move forward in creating a new reality as we emerge from c-tine…

How do we as a household live into we? As a collection of households known as a community live into we? As a collection of communities that make up a city or county live into we? As a collection of cities or counties that make up a country live into we?*

And as we live into we—how does that change the character, passions and skills we look for in our elected representatives? Those that are servant leaders of our communities?

Are you ready to answer the call out of I to We?

*The narrative on household to country came from my friend John, rewriting community narrative, he shared it over coffee and had to adapt it to this post.

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