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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Re Duality in America

An American friend of mine has an interesting response to the Duality in America post. See the response below:

"I take exception with your assessment of people’s reaction to the tee shirt. Her pose is making a statement of what she thinks of the observer (me) as an individual (I’m meaningless or worthless to her). By wearing that tee shirt you are saying that you share her opinion of the observer (me).

America respects and encourages individualism up to the point where one’s individualism impedes on another. This is where friction develops between individuals and groups of people when one’s thoughts, actions or rights differ with or impede another’s thoughts rights or action. That’s where the civil and judicial systems need to determine if a person 1) has a right, 2) if that right was violated and 3) if there is a conflict of rights who’s right takes precedent. You could argue that the tee shirt is art whose purpose is to evoke an emotion. Offended individuals could argue they have a reasonable expectation when being out in public not to be exposed to lewd and provocative media (how do I explain your tee shirt to my 5 year old grandchild). I believe in most communities your tee shirt would be judged as not impeding on anyone’s rights but viewers likewise have the right not to like it and they are entitled to their negative reaction (short of violence which would violate your right).

As to your statement America is conservative based on Christian values, it’s a historic fact that America was established under Christian principles which unfortunately are fading. If you look at any successful individual (athlete, teacher, student, executive, etc) you will find they have some dedication and discipline in their lives (they trained, studied, sacrificed, dedicated themselves). That is what Christian (or any legitimate religion) values provide, a disciplined code to live by that includes love and respect for others (including respect for their rights and feelings). Unfortunately today more and more of the media is selling the idea of anything goes, no need for self discipline, self respect, or common courtesy (take things as far as you can). Regarding America’s openness, it too has religious roots. If you have nothing to hide then you should not need to hide in the darkness. The Christian Bible will tell you that Evil operates in the darkness (think Enron, MCI, Madoff, Catholic priest scandal, etc.). It is only when evil comes into the light (is exposed) that it can be addressed. In an open society the openness (light) should result in a fix or healing destroying the bad or evil. We should keep the light focused on injustice and poverty around the world (and probably your tee shirt too)."