Friday, 25 June 2010

My Dream For Our Society

What kind of society do we want? Can I share with you the type of society I imagine and dream of? It's a society where everyone has good opportunities. The kind of opportunities where people can dream, set goals, plan for the future, raise a family in a safe atmosphere, and earn the right to see these hopes fulfilled. For this to happen we will have to -

  1. Help people broaden their education (not necessarily through formal schooling) so that they learn how to learn and how to think
  2. Ensure that everyone has access to clean water and a nutritious diet.
  3.  Give everyone the privilege of choosing how their society is governed and by whom.
  4. Have regulations ensuring equal prosperity opportunities for all, which also prohibit criminal conduct.
  5. Honour, protect and support the most vulnerable within our society (children, women, the elderly, the handicapped).
To achieve this kind of society requires a balance between individual freedom and an individual's responsibility to their community. It will also require a deep commitment to common values like-
  • Freedom of religion - people are free to express their beliefs in worship in a morally lawful manner.
  • Fairness in the market-place - adequate regulation to ensure that businesses have the right to negotiate with the employees about remuneration from a regulated minimum and for employees to have the protection of regulation against unfair work practices.
  • Respect for people's well-being and property - rather than tolerating theft disguised as entertainment, or rewarding those who violate this respect. Those who steal should be required to repay their victims what they stole plus 20%. 
  • Legislation is not just Law, legislation is education - laws not only define penalties for their breaching, they also serve as a statement of what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, despite whether people respect certain legislation or not, certain legislation should not be converted to regulation because it doesn't have universal support (for example, laws against murder will never be fully respected by everyone and this should not lead legislators to regulate murder instead!).  
  • Protection for the vulnerable - on a national scale (with a well resourced Defence Force), on a State level (with a well resourced Judicial System), and on a community level (with a well resourced Police Department). 
  • Equitable Taxation System - rather than a Taxation System that is a dis-incentive on enterprise, hard-work, or a fair reward, we should value a taxation system which allows our society members to share collective responsibility in an equitable fashion.
  • Family as the basic unit of society - marriage provides the safest and most secure emotional setting in which to raise some of the most vulnerable within our society: children. A strong society needs to relearn how to exercise healthy shame. There are some communities which do this really well so that 'shameful' behaviour is clearly looked down upon and discouraged without the need for governments to intervene with legislation. Societies should prize strong healthy families and discourage those things which undermine them. When families are intact and strong, a society is strengthened (I have written more about this in my book- What Is Family? And Why It Matters!) This is why pornography is so unhelpful for fostering healthy marriages and families. It is also why a caring society recognises that prostitution undermines the value of women and destroys trust within a marriage even before a person is married and even years after it occurred.  
  • The importance of classical education - society should prize learning and not be edu-chrono-phobic when it comes to learning from the great books or teachers of the past.
Can you imagine a society where the most vulnerable are honoured and respected rather than abused or neglected? 
Can you imagine a society where enterprise and productivity is rewarded both by society and government without being penalized? 
Can you imagine a society where the market-place, the judicial and legislative systems are free from corruption to administer justice equitably to all?
Can you imagine a society where people seek to understand before being understood so that conflict between ideologies are converted to dialogues?
Can you imagine a society where there is collective care not just individual rights?

The best strategy for achieving this kind of moral, just, equitable, productive, caring society, is found in the teaching of Christ and His Gospel. Historically, when societies have used this as a model they have valued the things we all intuitively prize. To be sure, there are some glaring examples where this has not been done even though those in power claimed otherwise. Upon closer examination though it can be readily shown that the worst examples of "Christian" influence upon a society were actually pseudo-Christian instead.  
Imagine that.

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