Saturday, August 21, 2010

Normal in America?

What is normal: In behavior, normal refers to a lack of significant deviation from the average. Conforming with or constituting a norm or standard or level or type of social norm. Being approximately average or within certain limits.

The interesting thing about “normal” is that normal changes. What was abnormal in one period of time becomes quite normal in another….or more, what is seen as abnormal and sick in one time is very likely seen as good and natural in another. It is growth, and change; it is the flex and draw of a person and a society of people who have a collective understanding of should and what should not be. And as natural as it seems to be, it is what is generally average for the society. Yes folks, “normality” is determined by those with a 100 IQ and roughly “C” student. That sort of changes the lofty status of things, huh? The stifling of innovators, the pushing down of those who live outside the average or think differently or act differently is a simple product of our nature as people. We are comfortable in what we find normal - or meeting expectations. No surprises and all is well. It is also not what this country is about. People risked life and limb, literally, to come to this country and create a life different from that which they left in England, France, Spain, etc. Motives aside, this country is about change. There is little tradition here but that; we celebrate: - The New Year: a new beginning. - Independence Day: freedom from tyranny. - Veterans Day: Sacrifice and giving everything so others can be free. - Thanksgiving: appreciation for the good things in life and abundance - Christmas: a time of giving and loving. So, while we will loft up such grand ideas in the one hand, we are still subject to the baser natures of our frightened little selves in the other. And, while pushing the normality of things is risky, it is also necessary. Not everyone is a C student, and not everyone has a 100 IQ, 2.5 kids and a mortgage….ya-da, ya-da, ya-da. The writers of the constitution were very learned men. Powerful and intelligent in their own right, they talked about ideas, philosophies, and perhaps more important - realities. Dreamers all, they fought the biggest bully on the block to have their own piece of the pie. But, being learned men and conversant in topics of philosophy, the phrase “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is one taken from that day’s philosophic debate. Looking this up, I find some back and forth on it but it seems to center on not the property issues, which Locke was attributed, but on a social interaction in which promotes the freedom and enjoyment of one’s neighbor in order to procure the freedom and enjoyment in one’s own life. So, for those who call themselves “Constitutionalists” and want to “go back to the way it used to be”, how about looking at the way it was supposed to be: Securing the freedom of my neighbor to secure my own freedom, because, as noted by the philosophers of the day, the opposite is also quite true.

Photo by Chuck Espinoza, found in Milkboys Jan 18.