The New Enlightenment

Enlightenment
Contents
The New Enlightenment builds on the 18th century Enlightenment to build sustainable societies in which liberty can flourish and the people prosper.
Door to Liberty

The first Enlightenment paved the way with the concepts that brought about individual liberty and rationalism, which produced "government of the people, by the people and for the people" and an Industrial Revolution that ushered in an age of prosperity and progress. However, these concepts seemed to have stalled and a spirit of government intervention and increased power has taken root, often with the view towards expanding and maintaining "civil liberties", but with the consequences of restricting liberty for some and perhaps "dumbing down society" to ensure that all can compete.

The New Enlightenment builds upon the first Enlightenment and seeks to create a concept of Excellence and the conditions that allow all citizens to rise to their potential. As part of this it also seeks to restore an aspect of "spirituality" that seems to be missing from discourse. This "Spiritual Humanism" draws on the seemingly antithetical concepts of "Secular Humanism" and spirituality. Some note the rationalism of the Enlightenment left no room for the Numinous. This statement is manifestly untrue. The Declaration of Independence clearly invokes the Numinous. However, it is a different kind of spirituality that is not theologically based.

Manifesting Human Potential

The drive to excellence and Spiritual Humanism produce Human potential. At its core, Human Potential is manifesting, and forging each person's individual gifts and talents to unlock their potential and use them to create Joy and Abundance to "...promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."

"Your talent is God's give to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God" Leo Buscaglia

The goal is expanded consciousness: to be aware of the moment and to understand that which surrounds us in the Cosmos and how we relate to it. To govern ourselves each moment according to the core values. To employ our gifts and live in harmony and to create a sustainable environment: physical, political, and social that provides the matrix for prosperity, happiness and liberty.

Excellence

The Republic's current efforts to promote diversity, at least in the short-term work to limit excellence. Often efforts to provide more "diverse" educational, social, and work environments lead to a lowering of standards. We see is in lowered requirements to graduate from high school and lower academic standards to get into colleges. The ostensible goal of "giving people a chance" while worthy takes the wrong approach. Rather than helping all citizens to compete to the best of their ability, these programs often act to inhibit competition and provide lower standards for certain groups while denying entrance to some who are fully competitive and qualified. The net effect is to lower standards, but perhaps more importantly, lower the drive to develop one's gifts to their potential and to destroy the quest for excellence.

Frankly, the results are painfully obvious in the statistics. America's ability to compete globally is dropping rapidly as shown in global statistics for educational ability and economic achievement. Perhaps the only area that has not been compromised is athletics, which perhaps the only area of life in America that has not been overly "dumbed down" to diversity. We will need to watch the effects of Title X, however, on men's athletic competitiveness as many boys sports programs are canceled to grow girl's programs.

The goal in athletic programs like all endeavors in the Republic should not be to constrain one group to grown another group. Rather, it should be to grow all groups and to provide individuals the ability to grow and successfully apply their talents.

The aims of the Civil Rights movement are correct: to ensure the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are extended to all citizens. However, the specific actions taken to achieve this objective are often counter-productive and serve to inhibit excellence rather than grow it. In the end, programs that allow people to succeed without working hard to develop their talents work to lower the overall productivity in society and dilute excellence.

To help foster excellence and to live up to the founding values, the Republic needs to have a far better mix of non-compulsory private programs and government support for true excellence in education and the maintaining of a safe environment and consistent rule of law that is, as the statue of Themis used as a symbol of justice shows, blind to the specific people involved and attuned to the facts and that weights them accurately and adjudicates them fairly.

Specific actions could include:

  • Changing educational paradigms to move them away from the Industrial Age methods to those more suitable to the Information Age. These include critical thinking, integrative problem solving, and smaller classrooms.
  • Private programs and efforts within the home to help restore the foundational values and re-build American families
  • Well-trained and effective police forces that maintain peace and security while respecting the founding values
  • A justice system that is based on finding the truth and fairly applying the law rather than convictions. Prosecutors should be rewarded for seeking the truth rather than convictions per se. Convictions should be product of an effective justice system.
  • Fewer laws that are effectively and fairly enforced. The Republic's legislatures tends to pass a mass of new law for every new circumstance, seemingly without looking to see if there are existing laws that cover the situation that are simply not effectively enforced. Likewise, de-criminalize "moral crimes" and concentrate truly on crimes that harm others.
  • Restore a sense of individual responsibility within society. Many government programs and tort cases absolve individuals of responsibility for their own actions. This has the perverse effect of perpetuating destructive behavior. Citizens must understand that actions have consequences. This does not mean that we build a heartless, "darwinian" society, but it does mean that people must take responsibility for themselves and any "safety net" is designed to be temporary. Private organizations rather than government programs may be far more effective and overall more fair to society.
  • "Blind" admissions and hiring programs that do not take race and other distinguishing characteristics into account and, where, possible, keep the applicants' identity and characteristics hidden during the selection process.
  • Specific government awards that recognize excellence and help private organizations to create effective programs. This is a gray area that has much potential for abuse and needs objective standards such as job creation, new technologies developed and successfully implemented, and academic excellence measured over the long-term by graduate's success and critical thinking competitions.
  • Government sponsorship of research and development to help expand technical vistas

Any government programs to implement these actions must pass the critical tests of relevancy and end state described else where on this site. In addition, the funding should be revenue neutral as current ineffective programs are terminate, these new programs stand up.

As noted elsewhere, this program will require an educated and informed electorate that makes effective decisions and holds elected representatives accountable for their actions.

Spiritual Humanism

Secular Humanism is essentially a child of the Enlightenment. It is based upon rationalism, ethics and the idea that humans can be ethical and moral without resorting to a supernatural force to maintain order. While it is not necessarily atheistic or agnostic, it is often associated with a lack of a spiritual or religious belief. This precept comes directly from the rationalism and human liberty of the Enlightenment.

However, unbounded rationalism and a hyper sense of individual liberty can be just as destructive as tyranny: The French Revolution is an example of how it can go wrong. Humanity and humanism needs a balance. Hence Spiritual Humanism rather than secular humanism. Spiritual Humanism softens Secular Humanism was a sense of the Numinous and the interconnected nature of life.

Spirituality is not necessarily religiosity. While spirituality can encompass religion if an individual so desires, it is far more than a prescribed way of worshiping a deity. At its core, I think it is seeing the Numinous in all and understanding the connected nature of life. It may not involve "worship" at all. Rather, every act of life is a recognition of the Numinous and a transformation to allow the Numinous within a person to grow. Spiritual Humanism provides for a blending of a rational approach to life along with a recognition that while people are created equally, they are endowed with different gifts and burdens. Humanity must balance individual liberty and responsibility with a sense of social cohesion and a care for those that cannot care for themselves. It is rationality with intuition; self-interest with compassion, and an understanding that life is complex and we do not fully understand the pattern or all of the connections.

Human Potential

The combination of Excellence and Spiritual Humanism leads to Human Pontential. That is living to the best of our abilities and developing our individual gifts and talents to unlock our true potential and create a sustainable society that will "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity".

The goal of Human Potential is to allow every citizen to fully develop their talents and be able to apply them in a productive manner that allows them to pursue happiness and prosperity and benefit society.



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