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« Strike in Chicago | Main | Attending the 2012 Association of American Editorial Cartoonists Convention »

Socialism? What Is It?

By Ken Poland
September 20, 2012

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. -Helen Adams Keller, lecturer and author (1880-1968)

No, for you literary purists, I didn't research and find this quote on my own. I lifted it off the internet from A.Word.A.Day.

Us small minded little people are the ones who will bring this country back to its greatness. If we, as a nation, have lost it. Yes, we need great and inspiring leaders. We need honest hard working public servants. But, what we need most is for the common folks of society to start taking responsibility for the ethics and morals that facilitate harmony. Great leaders cannot force the civilization of mankind. Jesus Christ, himself, could not change the hearts of men, unless they wanted to be changed. A big stick can force compliance, but it won't create harmony.

All of our presidents and congressmen were children and grew up in society. They learned their morals and ethics at home, in school, and on the playground, just like everyone else. Parents, adult workers, management executives, and CEOs will, usually, reflect the standards they grew up with. Social standards don't change overnight. With a Democratic Republic form of government, our national government agenda doesn't change immediately with the change of partisan administrations or majorities in congress. National policies slowly evolve with social changes in society. Society today is far removed from the society our founding fathers grew up in. Government or religious mandates will not make us into an 18th century society. No, human nature hasn’t changed since man came into existence, but environment and social structures have.

Some folks didn't have good examples, while they were growing up. We don't get to choose our birth parents, environment, education opportunities, etc. before we are born. But, the society around us can help us overcome the inequities we are faced with. Who is society? You and me! Does that sound like 'socialism'? You bet it does!

Socialism has been made to sound like a nasty word and philosophy. The privilege of wealth and power are, in fact, a form of socialism. Every activity we are involved in has a 'social' facet about it. Religious associations, service clubs, professional associations, sports clubs, etc. etc., they all are social organizations. Even the most powerful monarch or dictator has to rely on a social order that allows them to retain their positions. It takes a cooperative effort of those subject to that monarch or dictator's power to finally overthrow and free themselves. Is that a 'social' effort?

Democracy cannot exist without a social order that inspires people to be responsible and involved. The United States cannot, by edict or military power, change the social structures of the Mid East or any other region of the world. The religious right cannot erase the moral decay of society by threat of eternal damnation or edict of government regulation and mandate. Even the Biblical admonition of 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' has limitations. Until you have learned how interaction between individuals will set the standards and consequences of actions, this admonition is not fool proof.

The experts have told us that the first 3 or 4 years of our lives make grooves in our minds that we spend a lifetime trying to re-groove. By the time we become adults, we cannot claim to be entirely self made. The adage that it takes a village to raise a child is right. It takes involvement of society to create socially acceptable members of society.

Socialism? Perhaps some of us need to broaden our perception of that word. Socialism is NOT communism. Communism is a form of socialism, just like any other governing structure or economic system. Our political party organizations are defining forms of socialism. The Religious Right has a social structure. Capitalism, fascism, atheism – they all have social order and standards.

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