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    • The Lack of Belief In Good
      Are humans good, bad or neutral? It’s an old philosophical debate, and not just in the West. Confucius thought they were born neutral, for example, while the later Confucian Mencius felt they were good, noting that everyone who saw a child fall into a well would be horrified. Others, including many Confucians and the Christian church, with original sin, have […]
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A Tale of Two Countries

Some thought it was a really good time, some thought it was an awful time. It all depended on how you looked at it. It was different than the earlier time, when people were full of such anger and opposition, that there was conflict of all types. Now there was still all of that, but there were two countries now, run differently, by different people; and you didn’t have to interact with the people of the other country, just with your fellows, who almost all thought like you.

How this came about, is interesting, but not part of this tale. Consequences are often more significant than causes, unless one wants a moral lesson, and who has time for that these days? So we will just accept that there were two countries.; and that interestingly, the names of the two vastly different countries started with the same five letters. There was Liberal Land, and there was Libertarian Land, both names reflecting the nature of the people who lived there.

In Liberal Land, the people accepted the need for a government which was expected to reasonably carry out the wishes of the voters. But as the people could not all vote on every issue which they wanted to deal with on a daily basis, they elected representatives to be their surrogates, and to try to pass laws and edicts which the voters wanted. There was no guarantee that they always would vote as their constituents wanted, but they were expected to, except when people accepted that they might have more knowledge or expertise. But they were expected to explain this to the people, so that they would at least know why they were voting in this way in their elected bodies.

This system was certainly not perfect, as none like it had ever managed to be. But the people of this country did believe in knowledge, and education, and science, and they tried to learn as much as they could, from publications and shows which were intended to inform in as unbiased a way as possible. People had regard for those of high education, even though they knew that not all of them were right in any instance, and some might have ulterior motives for their views. But the discussions were of an elevated kind, with various scientists, doctors, historians, and the like, offering their insights and views, for people to consider and debate.

Again, it was not at all perfect, as people in this country were not perfect, nor were they all humane and thoughtful. So there were debates, and sometimes anger; but the vast majority of people trusted most of the experts who came with well observed scientific facts to support them. And people mostly realized that they could not get their way in everything; sometimes they would have to cede to another group, but with the belief that nothing was settled forever, it could be developed and debated further. And the goal was always supposed to be the betterment of humanity in general; in terms of the sustainability of life, the improvement of living conditions, and the respect for others; following The Talmud, “The Golden Rule,” or Kant’s “Categorical Imperative,” which all say essentially the same thing: treat others as you would want them to treat you.

Now, Libertarian Land was different. It was in some sense more entertaining a place than Liberal Land. but also was it more filled with anger,dispute, and violence. In that country, it was held as the highest rule, that no one else could tell you what to do. You could do what you wanted, all the time, at least if someone else didn’t violently contest you about it. That is how the country was created to be.

If you wanted to drive without wearing a seatbelt, you could; and you could smoke anywhere you wanted to, and no establishment or municipality could tell you otherwise. There were no handicapped parking spaces, because in this country, that would be an infringement on your rights. There were no curfews, and no imposed restrictions on anything.

People only listened to scientists if they felt like it. If the scientists almost all said that one needed to be vaccinated for a serious virus, people could listen to them, or ignore them, it was their choice. People were not required to recycle anything, or follow any regulations about the use of fuels or what cars to drive. No one could tell them how to act, how to live, what to say or not say, what words they could use or not use. No one was the boss of them, as they liked to put it.

In Liberal Land, people listened to the scientists and doctors, whose opinions might not always agree, but usually did. And those opinions might alter as new facts came in. But the people respected the value of science and data. So they got vaccinated, and wore masks when the epidemiologists said that it was very important to slow and eventually stop the spread of a virus, like in an earlier time, when 91% of the people got the polio vaccine in its first year of availability. In Libertarian Land, some people listened to the scientists, but many chose not to, and everyone did their own thing.

This led to further transmission of virulent diseases, and many millions of deaths. The people were not happy about this, but they accepted it as the price of freedom. And it did thin out the population, which allowed those who survived, and who were smart bargain hunters, the opportunity to improve their housing situation. Nothing was done about climate change in this country, so it got hotter and hotter, and much of their coastline was flooded, and there were many fires. This was seen by some as another opportunity to buy cheap and thus increase their holdings.

There was a nominal government from the outset, but most people did not like it, or want to listen to it, so their laws had no force, as their courts always stood up for the right of any citizen not to follow any law which he or she did not like. If another person wanted those people to follow the law: for example, to drive 35 mph. on the roads; and someone else wanted to ignore that and drive 95 mph., there were accidents, and violent arguments, and people got shot at a moment’s notice. Everyone carried at least one gun, most carried a variety of weapons; and there were multiple shootouts every minute, not just every hour. Everyone had a right to their guns, and everyone had a right to use them when they felt it was necessary. This led to more land buying opportunities for the smart ones who knew how to take advantage of bargains.

This could not last, however. There was so much killing, so much disease, so much burning and flooding, that people demanded that something be done. At that point, a few of the richest people said that they would act as leaders of all. Others contested them. They tried to raise armies, but no one wanted to listen to orders given, so they were disorganized and ineffective. Finally, however, one of the very rich people’s armies were able to defeat the other ones, and this person took charge, using the power of weaponry to threaten anyone who tried to stop him or who dared to not follow his dictates.

The leader held control for a while, but there was a rebellion, and a potential forcible overthrow by another would-be leader. That war is still going on. The questions are, will one of them prevail; and if so, how long will that person manage to hold power? Someone in Libertarian Land tried to bring up some ancient history, talking about a philosopher named Hobbes, and his concept of a time when there was the war of all against all; but very few wanted to read or hear about anything in a book; and a few who did know about him, contended that Hobbes was what was called a monarchist, who was trying to argue in favor of the need for a state ruled by a king; and that caused all of the problems in the first place, including the need to create Libertarian Land.

So the war went on, and everyone there shot everyone else; and got sick, and got burned and flooded. And a few very opportunistic people made even more money on all of it. There were calls for an invasion and attack on Liberal Land, which had a better climate, healthier air and water, and a populace which did not have nearly as many guns.

A tattered person was seen walking down the burning streets of Libertarian Land one evening, murmuring something about, “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” Almost no one knew what he was talking about, and for the few who did, the concepts of self-sacrifice and idealism were anathema to them, and so they aggressively and angrily pushed on past him.