The events of the past few days, with protests and the assault on the U.S. Capitol, have led many to believe that there can be no merit to the motivations of those protestors. There is a belief that all the protestors are misguided. Their actions may be. The way they express their principles is certainly abrasive to many. Good principles can be expressed or manifested in ways that are destructive. As a proponent of Principled Inclusion, any actions that do not bring maximum inclusion need to be re-examined. If we are truly looking for the maximum good for the maximum number of people, then leaders must be expected to foster inclusion, not exclusion. We should expect our leaders to express their values with principles that invite maximum participation, encourage peaceful resolution of conflict, and demand reasonable acceptance of the rights of all.
For the expression of principle we all must look to our inner values. Most folks have inner values we can relate to. Not everyone has developed principles that truly express their values. We are all working on that. Whenever actions taken on principle become controversial, or appear to harm others, then we need to look carefully at how they were expressed and why they were so expressed. Equally important is to ask whether principled actions are being directed, connived or subverted by others. Old principles may be like old biases that need to be amended and even discarded if they are not achieving the manifestation of our values. Mob actions are almost always built on some sort of principle that has been contorted or manipulated. Lynching is one good example of such mob action.
Peace, unity and acceptance are all good. Mob participants may well have underlying principles, but vitriol and anger quickly lead to harmful actions. We can ask that once the mob disperses, we all sit down and find out what there may be in the underlying values of the participants that we can jointly agree to respect. Restorative justice is one way to allow the actor causing a disturbance, committing a crime or some insult, and the aggrieved parties to peacefully connect to achieve acceptance, forgiveness or some other calming action. To have that work, there must be some recognition that the actions of one or more have led to a recognizable grievance. We understand why Americans who find storming the U.S. Capitol is never acceptable is grievable. The same can be said of destroying or stealing property..
Putting aside the obvious criminal nature of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol, we face a difficult proposition of finding reconciliation between opposing groups who appear to be acting on principle. To do this we must find common values to accept the validity of each other’s values. I am a proponent of principled inclusion and that means we must seek action that fosters inclusion. Actions that limit inclusion should be reconsidered and examined.
George Washington was opposed to political parties because he knew that they tend to foster non-inclusive actions. He might wonder how we got this far with a reliance on a two-party system. I am sure he and the founders of our amazing country had great hope that the values set forth in our founding documents were sufficient to be continued motivation through thick and helping us to find consensus to expand our civil rights and allow us to live, breathe and thrive for more than two centuries.
YES, we can find peace, acceptance and passable unity, but only when we recognize the absolute sanctity of the freedoms AND the responsibilities of ALL. Is this a hard road? Ask those who fought in the American Civil War. Ask those who fought and died to defend our nation in past wars. Ask those who marched for civil rights. Ask those who have suffered from the actions of misguided but vicious mobs. Ask those who sit in thoughtful prayer for the good of all. Ask those kids who study High School Civics.
Yes, the road can be hard, and it may be long, but we have no choice other than to stick with our freedoms and our responsibilities. God Bless America and all those of good values and hearts that will seek to preserve it. Can we talk about this peacefully and respectfully? I certainly hope we can. In fact, I am betting all I have on it!