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Monday, October 15, 2012

One Nation Indivisible

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others."  --  Thomas Jefferson

The United States suffers from a plague of divisiveness.  Each interest group seeks to maximize its own benefits, no matter what the cost to others.   Kabbalah teaches that balance is the hallmark of a just society.  This principle is embodied in the Sinai Covenant and in the "Miracle of 1787" - the Constitution of the United States.

The principle of balance appears in many religions.  Maimonides taught that "The right way is the mean in every one of a person's character traits".  He extends this by stating that a wise nation strives to maintain equilibrium among its citizens.   St. Thomas Aquinas asserts that "it is evident that moral virtue observes the mean."  In Greece, we find the Doric saying carved on the front of the temple at Delphi: "Nothing in Excess".  Buddha taught the "Middle Way".  Confucius wrote of the way of living in the mean.  In our society, the symbol of justice is the balanced scale.

Science applies the balance of forces to achieve stability.  Consider the stable flight of an airplane.  The upward force generated by the airflow over the wings balances the downward force of gravity.  Similarly, the stable orbit of the space station is determined by the balance of gravity with the rotational force acting on the satellite.  Further, the stability of planets and galaxies depend on these forces.  Science sees all of creation as exquisitely balanced.

Balance is a universal principle that applies to the cosmos and to us.  When we speak of social cohesion, we mean balance.  Our Founders understood that the nature of people is to strive to maximize their own interests.  They also recognized that this is the path of destruction for a nation.  As students of the history of governments, they knew that this was demonstrated by the rise and fall of the great nations of the past.  In response, they put forth a profound concept of governance: "The Balance of Powers".  Our Constitution seeks to balance competitive policies in order to achieve cooperative results.  The practical solution was to create a government in which no element, President, House of Representatives, Senate or Judiciary, would have absolute power over the others.  Furthermore, the Bill of Rights provides that the federal government shall not have absolute power over the states.

Over time, the balance has been eroded by political manipulation.  Now, there are elements of government that seek to divide the population into competing, non-cooperative castes. 

The historical motto of the United States is  E pluribus unum  - "Out of many, one".  It now appears to be "Out of many, chaos".  The balancing forces that once held the United States in balance are dissolving.  For the sake of our survival, how can we restore the balance?  Possibly, the answer to our survival as a unified and balanced nation lies in a variant reading of a familiar biblical injunction: "Respect your neighbor as yourself".


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