We Can’t be Good, if That’s Not What We Want to Be

One of my big questions, ever since childhood, has been “What do Americans want?” The answer, of course, depends on which Americans we are talking about.

Is there a core set of beliefs all Americans can agree on? Probably not. Americans seem determined not to have beliefs – at least conscious beliefs that can be examined and considered. They simply do what feels right – when they are doing it. They do not want to think about what they are doing.

Any beliefs they have must be unconscious beliefs that can only be inferred from their actions – and they can be wildly inconsistent – producing wildly different actions, depending on the circumstances.

Much of this is caused by Human Nature – which has been built up for thousands, if not millions of years. There is no single Human Nature – but a complex mixture that varies enormously.

One example of this is Human Language – which varies enormously. Linguists, I believe, have discovered patterns common to all of them – but the driving force that caused these differences – the same force that caused them to develop in the first place – remains a mystery.

Humans are a mystery – what happened to produce us, and what are we here for? We don’t know – but it is up to us to decide what to do with ourselves.

But this assertion – that we are responsible for our actions – is not what most people believe. They believe, and believe strongly – that something else is responsible for their behavior. And that they must behave as it dictates.

And in a way they are right – every person is embedded in his culture – and other people, not the individual – are in control. If things get too bad – the only recourse is to get out – and become a refugee – of which, there are many.

But I return to Americans – who believe in Freedom – the right to do as they please. They have two contradictory beliefs – that everyone should be the same – and that everyone should be different. The more thoughtful of them recognize this contradiction – but most do not.

They just go wherever the wind blows them.

 

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