The miracle of cooperation allows humans to achieve nearly anything. This is the promise of the Ernstraudian Way (article 38), the reason we are here together.
· Fairness equalizes participants in democracy. In a large group, we trust that somebody will become aware of shortcomings, allowing us to perfect the system as we go along.
· An authoritarian individual is corrupted more easily than a majority.
· Public trust establishes continuity of the body.
Democracies combine individual personal contributions to a social contract. People share diverse talents for the common good. They learn practical necessities like the protection of minorities and avoidance of extremes. They develop norms through the accumulation of decisions over time (res judicata). Cooperative stability promotes well-being and growth.
Shared energy is a precious force for problem solving. Sincerity and enthusiasm are treasured virtues. However, they are harmful when carried to excess. Democracy is called self-rule, not ruling others. When people become selfish, when sportsmanship fails, we call off the game.
An ignorant public is slow to improve. When a majority accepts unjustifiable practices like slavery, social blindness becomes self-perpetuating.
A minority party, even if only one person, takes up good causes and appeals to public conscience. Protection of individual and minority rights is critical to continuation of majority rule. The majority must bridle its power to preserve rights of individuals. This is possible when members realize that anybody is a minority regarding something. Those who protect the rights of others are protecting themselves. Threats to individual liberty endanger the whole society.
Article 55 asks whether you are winning arguments or improving outcomes. There is no sympathy for bad losers. So long as individual rights are preserved, the losers of elections are required to bear the discomfort of majority rule. Dissatisfied factions spoil the system of benefits described above.
Rights are shared equally; there is no inherently superior commander of humans. Time is a healer: tolerant discourse keeps the way forward open to all. While voting chooses outcomes, it does not establish rightness. Under careful examination, what was once an unpopular eccentricity often becomes an adopted norm.
Women’s suffrage and abolition of slavery were once regarded as minority dreams. Wheels turned slowly, but eventually the ideals took hold. There is constantly a winnowing process for eliminating worst practices. Article 39 showed that science has not always been applied in settling differences. Brave tolerance, education, and sincere perseverance are our hope for an always more successful future.
We discuss eight puzzles to consider, but not consider solved. Is there a right not to be bound by a decision? The need for critical discernment is eternal.
Sometimes we are called on to protect something that is not encouraged. Perspective is not absolute. Here is a collection of situations to discuss considering history compared to modern practice.
There is increasing tolerance for aberrations that are not deemed harmful to other parties. There is increasing declaration that no amount of alcohol consumption is healthy for humans. Drinking decisions usually remain private except in cases of drunk driving, which put others at risk. Drug by drug, there are ongoing debates about balancing risks to self and society.
Profanity seems to be a label attached to certain words. I question whether hearing profanity affects my health. On the other hand, I assume that hearing lies does. The difference is probably conditioning. People are socialized to associate certain words (sound wave patterns) with intent to injure.
Minority rights now typically include protection of conscientious objectors to war. The pacifist intends that personal witness strengthens peaceful society. There have been times and places where it was a capital offense.
Anti-miscegenation laws have no scientific basis. Apparently, they are disappearing.
There is mixed opinion about eating meat. Religious prohibition does not justify government prohibition of meat consumption and does not justify outlawing a religion having that teaching. I may have rules for my person or house, but I cannot make up or forbid the rules for your person or house.
Some nations support state religions as a public service, expecting certain social duties from the organizations. The practice loses luster if the government imposes on citizens the norms of a religion.
Intergenerational incest is probably universally condemned because of unfairness to children. Sibling incest has been used to annul a marriage after a records search proved that the parties were brother and sister. In contrast, there are stories of a society in which sibling marriage was considered one way to keep the ruling blood line pure. Congenital weakness is possible but not inevitable in such cases.
Saudi women have sought or rejected the prohibition of their driving cars. I question whether Sati (“widow burning”—a woman sits on her husband’s funeral pyre) was ever voluntary.
If nothing else, thoughtful consideration curbs being dogmatic. What appears a normal option to one may seem hideous to another and obligatory to a third person. Today’s lesson is a call to examine everything in search of identifying which customs merit preservation. It is particularly important that one person should not do another person’s thinking.