I wish, you wish, our parent’s, our siblings, hey, maybe even our pets wish. It’s hard to argue that no one wishes, for someone, or something, that can bring happiness our satisfaction to his or her future pursuits or endeavors.
So yeah, everyone wishes. People we might not be tolerant of, groups we might not be supportive of, even those we thought had it all.
But the wish or aspiration of the individual pales in comparison to that of the community; at least if you ask a civic republican. Apparently, these folks never had aspirations beyond the progress and furtherance of society as a whole. As they would put it back in the days of our once and no longer monarch, “Forget about your tea parties and sport my colonial fellows, there are mass meetings and mobs to be organized!”
Yes, when we were mistreated and mishandled by our British cousins it was too easy to say ‘that ain’t right’. Committees were made, meetings were organized, and mobs ran amuck. It seemed everyone had a similar Christmas list; one that read ‘freedom’.
James Morone was happy with this premise. His ‘Democratic Wish’ prescribes community with shared interests and goals as the ideal.
But Morone’s wish had many pitfalls. Impossibility was one of them. But his theory was correct. Once there exists a common enemy to the public, as a whole is it easy to rise, but once the multitude of issues comes back into the fray, it is easy to lose sight of the common objective. That comes with an increase in population and in diversity of a nation’s peoples.
Although the colonials were realistically not all in agreement over the fundamentals of political and civic life, they were all for the most part ‘out of doors’, a clever way to say they were done taking crap from the Brits. That’s when all the rabble rousing came. And with that came Thomas Paine, a man who clearly believed in the uniformity of the ‘American wish for independence’. But Paine believed in a different type of community; free of those who lacked the outlook of the civic republican. It was public good and hatred toward the British or bust.
We are human beings. We clash, and as individuals we all have our own moral compass. The idea that we put our own well being ahead of the common people is not necessarily a bad one; actually it is not bad at all. It is our own prerogative. It’s what gets us writing these blogs in the first place.
The question I raise is, although the idea of community is well and good, when is it right to think for ourselves, for our families, and for our future without suffering the scrutiny of our fellow citizens? Likewise, is it ever so readily apparent that the community may need to come first, or is our society too large, too diverse, too divided?
I wish I knew the answers to those questions.