Yours Mine Or Ours (The Encroaching of Collectivism)

How do we define where our rights as individuals end and our responsibilities as members of collective society begin? Is it fair to define what is mine without society telling me what I can or cannot do with it within the confines of reasonable laws and sensibilities?

I recently came across an article online that got me thinking about this question. It also got me thinking about something that came up about 6 months ago along the same lines. I’ll get back to that in a bit.

The article was about some people vacationing in Europe and having dinner at a restaurant. The group ordered their food, and received more than they could eat, leaving about 1/3 of it behind. Others got upset with them, and called local officials, who fined them 50 Euros for wasting food. The article, from http://36meals.blogspot.com/2011/10/money-is-yours-but-resources-belong-to.html, went on to say the following:

The officer then told us in a stern voice: “ORDER WHAT YOU CAN CONSUME, MONEY IS YOURS BUT RESOURCES BELONG TO THE SOCIETY. THERE ARE MANY OTHERS IN THE WORLD, WHO ARE FACING SHORTAGE OF RESOURCES. YOU HAVE NO REASON TO WASTE.”

A senior police officer of the Hamburg police ...

The tourists were sympathetic to the officer’s position, and the blog went on to condemn the Western attitude of being able to order and eat as we please, perhaps wasting some in the process. While I cannot condone the greed and gluttony which prompted ordering and wasting of large amounts of food, the attitude of the officer and the reaction of the tourists disturbs me. Greed and gluttony are two of the Seven Deadly Sins, the others being wrathslothpridelust and envy. However, society has had a history of failing to successfully legislate and enforce legislation against any of these human ills. This is because morality is an issue of the heart, and not of just behavior.
English: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four La...

The Seven Deadly Sins

The other side of it, the one from 6 months ago, was a report of an MSNBC network news reporter stating children belong to the community at large, and not their parents. (http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/04/09/critics-slam-msnbc-hosts-claim-that-kids-belong-to-community-not-parents/

Melissa Harris-Perry recorded a commercial for the network in which she stated that children do not belong to their parents, but are instead the responsibility of the members of their community.

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children,” she says in a spot for the network’s “Lean Forward” campaign. “So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

Melissa Harris Perry

Ms Harris-Perry faced a firestorm of criticism from pro-family, religious and politically conservative groups for her statements. Many considered her comments to stem from elitist thinking, while there were those who supported it. To declare parents are not the primary responsibility for their own children, as they have been since parents started having children, was radical at best and polarizing to say the least.

In both cases, there is an allegation being made that the rights of the collective societal community are greater than the rights of the individuals within it. It is asserted the state is a tribe, collective or hive, protecting the resources for the good of all within it to distribute as it sees fit. It is this collective mentality I seek to address.

The U.S. was founded on the principles of human freedom, dignity and individual rights over the rights of a collective state society. The founding documents are clear in these areas. It is only when the rights of the individual overstep and move into the rights of another that the state has a right to step in and declare the boundaries have been violated. To put it in more simplistic terms, as I learned it as a child, my rights end where yours begin, and it is the state’s job to make sure those lines remain clear. And the state’s job ends where my rights, and yours, begin.

In this individualized paradigm, for the most part, the needs of the few outweigh the needs

Individuality

Individual

of the many. The few or one are given as great a weight in considering decisions as are the many. Individual rights are more difficult to trample, as are the rights of minorities. When everyone has rights and they are all honored and respected, it becomes easier to accord rights to others, and the society as a whole benefits. In such a society, leaders come from within, rising as defenders of rights of individuals and minorities. Leadership becomes something possible for the many, not the few.

The U.S., Austrailia and Canada have been good examples of this individual societal paradigm. Founded on the beliefs the rights of individuals are paramount, these states have enjoyed social and economic freedom envied around the globe. Historical examples can also be found in Greece and pre-Empire Rome.

bee hive

bee hive

The attitude I see in both stories is the rights of the hive or collective or tribe is greater than the individuals within it. When a tribe is given the rights of the resources, whether these be food, shelter, clothing or children, the tribe becomes more important than the individuals within it. The needs of the many in this case therefore outweigh the needs and rights of the few or the one. Only the needs of the society as a whole are considered.

When no one has rights to be respected, it is rule by majority, with individual and minority rights being lost in the mob. In this society, leaders are those with best access to resources, or who are given power by those who already have it. Leadership becomes something impossible for the many, but not for the few.

Examples of the collective societal paradigm can be studied in the communist societies such as pre-Glasnost Russia, East Germany, North Korea and Cuba, to name but a few. It’s not a paradigm that’s not been wanting and not tried. It’s been repeatedly tried and found consistently wanting.

Best-selling author, blogger, leadership expert and business leader Orrin Woodward said

Orrin Woodward

Orrin Woodward

the other day on Twitter,

Societies, Civilizations & Corporations all decay from within before they are overcome from without.

Any attempt to move the U.S. from its fundamental principles of individual human freedoms as clearly outlined in its founding documents is decay in its society. I’ll say that again: Any attempt to move the U.S. from its fundamental principles of individual human freedoms as clearly outlined in its founding documents is decay in its society. Attempts such as these examples, and others like them we see on an alarmingly almost daily basis, are to be resisted.

The only way to remain a free society is to decide we want to be one, and then to take the necessary actions in the social media, the mainstream media, the voting booth and in legal protest to make sure our voices are heard and clearly understood. Sometimes, all it takes is someone standing up and saying, “NO!” Let’s all be that someone.

LeaderShift

LeaderShift

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A Lack Of Leadership

It has been said many of the problems people fact are caused by a lack of leadership.  Whether we are trying to act in business, perform church or charity work, raise a family or run a country, the differences between success and failure most often comes from leadership or its lack. 

I had many misconceptions about leadership before I met Team.  “But I’m not a leader; I’m just a mom,” I used to say.  I have since learned from the leadership of Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady and Team being a good parent is an essential leadership role in the establishment of a healthy society.  By accepting the role of mom, I chose to be put into the leadership position of establishing and enforcing boundaries for our children, encouraging their personal and emotional growth and development and helping them to become productive members of society. 

Now, since being in the leadership development program of Team, I am better able to see true leadership and its lack in the world.  When I look at the world now, I am more able to look at it from the viewpoint of someone who has grown from being a mere follower, and is striving to become a leader. 

According to Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady’s bestselling Launching A Leadership Revolution, leaders are characterized by three things.  These characteristics of leaders are that they are hungry, being teachable and being honorable.  

Orrin and Chris are very clear regarding their definitions of these concepts.  To be hungry is to have a vision of something more and/or better.  To be teachable is to be willing to learn, and put into practice what is learned.  To be honorable is to have character, doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.

 Very often, when we think of hunger in terms of leadership, we think of it in terms of being hungry for power.  But as Orrin and Chris point out, this type of hunger is the hunger of selfishness, not leadership.  True leaders serve and do not seek power.  

I often see a leadership lack in the arena of hunger in politics.  We’ve all seen politicians who do what is expedient, instead of what is right, because the easy thing will gain them power among their fellows or constituents.  For example, when New York State’s legislature passed the Same Sex Marriage bill, legislators who had been firmly opposed to the measure in the past caved under pressure from special interest groups and their fellow lawmakers, ignoring the wishes of their constituents.  

When we think of leadership on the political stage, having leaders who are teachable is very often not what we see.  Time and again, I have seen political figures and appointed officials presented with the facts, who continue in the course they have decided, frequently contrary to the facts presented to them.  For example, the judge of the Federal District Court in California over-rode that state’s law opposing Same Sex Marriage.  That unelected appointed leader did so in direct opposition to the wishes of a majority of California’s constituents, who had suggested and voted in the proposition in the first place.  

Honorability in politics is often a difficult thing to find.  Politics is filled with people in power who abuse it and behave dishonorably.  The accusations against President Bill Clinton, both before and after he took office, and those against Senator John Edwards show a lack of honorability.  People of character, who behave honorably, are often scarce in politics.  And even when we find them, often the political process itself can corrupt them. 

A lack of leadership in the world must be first addressed by individuals learning about it and putting it into practice in their own lives.  A quote from the tombstone of an 11th century Anglican Bishop reads, 

When I was young and free my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew in my twilight years, in one desperate last attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realized: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.  

As leaders are grown as individuals and in their homes, the leadership in businesses, churches and charitable organizations will rise.  It is only then leaders can and will rise up to serve in government. 

When I joined Team, I wanted to change the world.  As I began to be exposed to Team and the leadership of Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I began to realize, as the quote says, I had it backwards.  Instead of changing the world, I needed to change me.  Being hungry, teachable and honorable starts with the person in the mirror.  Only after my own change became more effective was I able to affect change in my home.  As my family life became better, my leadership at work and in my church began to increase.  I went from being a person who saw leadership as having power over others to being someone who understands it really means to serve, and in serving, lead.