Our National Destruction Is a Failure of Boundaries
We have all been circling around the genesis of our society's ills since the COVID epidemic struck and the riots and peaceful protests began. It is not ironic that everything happened seemingly at once; rather, once the wound appeared, it became inflamed and infected almost immediately.
On the most fundamental level, we are suffering from a complete disrespect for boundaries. The idea of boundaries is fairly simple, yet its roots grow deep, indeed to the core of humanity. One of my favorite books describes the entire book of Genesis from the Bible as an ironic story about boundaries (The Book of J, Harold Bloom & David Rosenberg).
Genesis describes the boundaries of the land of Canaan, but it also explains the boundaries between neighbors, between enemies, between men and women, between tribes, and most importantly between God and man, Heaven and Earth. The boundary between God and man exists even for the atheist because his faith is rooted not in a divine being, but in something else. Whatever it is that he believes in matters not. Science, anti-science, political ideology — something gives him sustenance, and between him and that ideal, there lies a boundary. It may only be his own misery he has faith in. That is enough to create a boundary.
A crude explanation for the need of religion is that dogma explains boundaries to us in no uncertain terms. You can believe wholeheartedly in the right for women to have control over their own bodies, but you cannot say that by killing an innocent living human being, you have not crossed a boundary. So the argument is not whether the boundary exists or not, but do you respect it? I can think of no prose where a more fitting word has been chosen than in "forgive those who trespass against us." Trespass. The fact that this word was chosen informs you that its author was keenly aware of boundaries.
How we deal with boundaries is called "morality." You do not need to be religious in order to adopt a code of behavior and respect for a moral view of the world. You only need to see why morality is needed. As Jordan Peterson observes, even within packs and herds of animals, there is an instinctive morality that is observed lest the pack turn on the outlaw. Mankind boasts a most sophisticated moral view whose subtitles and gray areas have been adjudicated, been debated, and even led to war.
Our founding fathers understood the reality and the need for boundaries. They were tasked to create political limits among the branches of government and also to define the boundary between government and society. They could not make their population moral. But they could and did apply a moral code to their definitions. Those things that protect the individual from the State were called "The Bill of Rights." These rights derive from a commonsense notion that man is not the creator, but the created. Whether you believe solely in evolution or solely in creation or something between the two, humankind did not create humankind. That's common sense. There is a boundary between us and the nature of our creation. We did not create ourselves.
Therefore, the logic goes, there are certain things within the human being that make him sovereign, and those elements are endowed through creation in us. They are not subject to state authority. They "belong" to the individual.
Most notably, the human mind is the sole property of the individual, given him by creation. We did not create our minds or our bodies. Neither did the government. This fact should be part of "gender studies" as well as "race relations." Dialectic reason says that what comes from an individual's mind — i.e., what he thinks — is therefore also a gift of creation. It cannot be taken or abused or stifled by the government. We call this "freedom of speech" because what we say reflects what we think.
Freedom of speech becomes freedom of the press. When we shout down or cancel someone's speech, we are seriously crossing a boundary. In the old days — say, two years ago — there was always someone to stand up for this right. "Let him say his piece," we might say to a dissenter. "Then you can have yours." Sadly, that is not the case today. Mob mentality is taking over.
Why do the feds usurp authority from the states, and why do the states demand of the feds, and why do people trespass on someone's right to speak? Why does the Executive Branch make law when the Congress is constitutionally assigned that responsibility? Why are so many boundaries being invaded, and why is trespassing no longer a crime?
The answer is obvious. We no longer respect boundaries. We have become that tribal human animal before religion awoke us to the necessity of morality. The whole concept of existentialism rides on the concept of organized and lawful conduct. Some say "social contract." Pick your terminology; say it how you like. The ends are the same. This society is fracturing at an alarming rate. Nothing can turn the tide until boundaries are once again recognized and respected. There is no moral code without them.
There are other more powerful forces at work also. We call them Google and Facebook and Amazon, a dozen companies seeking to strike down freedom of speech on the altar of their self-righteous narcissism. They are zealots, worshiping the ideological god of Critical Theory and insisting you repeat their rhetoric lest you, the infidel, be canceled. They wish to control your thoughts.
This radical religion is devoid of wisdom from its founding presupposition. Critical Theory should deconstruct (their favorite word) its own thinking! Just as the ego of a narcissist knows no bounds (by definition), Critical Theory does not acknowledge the universal fact that boundaries exist. Move over, Google — you're crowding me! Why they wish to control your thoughts and opinions is anyone's guess. (Power, maybe?) How they are doing it is by algorithms, keywords, and the beginnings of artificial intelligence. What they are doing is crushing our right to hold thoughts that do not confirm to their dogma.
Anti-trust laws were put in place for this reason. Monopolies by their nature invade the boundaries of other businesses trying to survive. They can manipulate markets and apply irresistible pressure on groups and individuals. It's always the zealots who will not permit debate or dissension.
If we are to open our national borders and forgo immigration laws, we will no longer be a country. If we no longer protect the citizenry from criminals by arresting them and prosecuting them, there will be no justice, no peace whatsoever. If we allow Big Tech to censor the digital world, there will be no intelligent debate or truth-seeking. Without truth-seeking, we have no education, no possible way forward. At that point, can we really call ourselves "civilized human beings"?
Image via Pxhere.