We Need an Ethical Analysis
Regarded by some as one of the most important books ever written on the subject of human relationships and organizational behavior, Martin Buber’s book “I and Thou”, gives us an ethical analysis on this most important question.
Buber breaks down healthy and mature relationships between human beings into three types. The first being the “I-Thou” relationship. such a relationship I recognize you to be different from me, but even though you are different a “You” or other, you can still be beloved to me, namely a “Thou”. Such relationships are rare and usually reserved to a husband or wife, family and a few close friends.
The second type is the “I-You” relationship, where I recognize you, and though different I respect your essential humanity. This is a belief that each and every human being, you, every friend, every stranger, every foreigner, is precious. Such relationships are not a utopian fantasy, but once predominated .
The third type and the problem today is the “I-It”, relationship, where we have lost sight of the humanity of others, simply because he or she is other. This occurs when I see you as a subhuman, even inanimate object, an “It”, simply to be used, as we might use a chair or shovel.
It’s About Your Connection
The reason we such a prevalence of the “I-It” relationship in today’s society is outlined in Michael Novak’s book, “Ascent of the Mountain, Flight of the Dove”, in which he breaks it down to our connection with the concept of a “Higher Power”.
This connection is explained as a type of mentality we hold, either Secular or Sacred. “The person with a Secular Mentality feels himself to be the center of the universe. Yet he suffers from a sense of meaninglessness and insignificance, because he knows, he’s but one human being among five billion others. Scratching out an existence on the surface of a medium sized planet, circling a small star, among countless stars, in a galaxy lost among countless galaxies”.
The person with a Sacred Mentality on the other hand, “Does not feel himself to be the center of the universe. She considers the center to be elsewhere and other. Yet she is unlikely to feel lost or insignificant, precisely because she draws her significance and meaning from her relationship, her connection, with that center, that other”. The other being a Higher Power and not necessarily a theology based God.
A Cornerstone of Civility
This Sacred mentality provides not only an ideological foundation for human ethics but with it’s submission to a “Higher Power”, a Sacred one as well. In an article by Glenn Tinder, “Can We Be Good Without God?”, he wrote, “The concept of the exalted individual implies that Governments, indeed all persons who wield power, must treat individuals with care, it’s one of the cornerstones of civility”.
Willfulness and Willingness
The prevalence of a Secular Mentality is do to our great capacity to subvert the Will of our Higher Power, to our own. While many believe in a Higher Power they lack the will to submit to it. It’s the difference between Willfulness and Willingness. It’s easier to be Willful, to be unharnessed and thus Secular, then it is to be Willing and to place your will in the service of a Higher Power.
The Ethical Question
Our Current Leaders consider Willfulness as a sign of strength. They have forgotten the answer to the age old question “What makes a act good?”, or the “Ideal Observer Theory”. The answer to the question is “an act is good, which appears good, to an ideal observer”. And who is the ideal observer? A being who is more knowledgeable than you, more objective than you, yet who still cares about you. While it’s obvious that this observer is God, today we use the political correct term Higher Power.
What Would the Ideal Observer Think?
Not everyone is ready to adopt a Sacred Mentality yet, but many are, and with each person who awakens, the momentum in the collective conscience grows, and it becomes easier for others. The Politics of Racism is the epitome of an “I-It” relationship, where we have lost sight of our humanity. It’s designed to separate and divide people. Stoking the flames of divisiveness and hate for the sake of political expediency will have dire consequences down the road.
As always thanks for visiting. Dave