PUBLIC SERVICE ESSAY
American Democracy, Part III
“Free society begins by affirming individual differences and their equal rights.”
Joseph W. Ferrara, EdD
Financially, we live on a wall-street, structured planet, which is predatorily marketed. The dignity, value and worth of each individual are being manipulated and threatened. There are more of us than ever before living under dehumanizing conditions of congestion, commotion and celerity. The more serious threat to our personhood arises from moral bewilderment and ethical confusion. Many are losing their reverence for the single person and putting their faith and confidence, instead, in high-powered machinery, religion, politics, majority opinion, collective bargaining, and restrictive/exclusionary regulations of high-tech capitalism.
For moral, rather than biological reasons, every one of us is to be equally regarded and treasured as uniquely precious. When we say that every individual is a unique person, we mean that they are not only a valued creature who is most capable of thought, but also one who is able to cogitate, think about their thoughts; that out of this reflected thinking and deliberation, a sense of thoughtful responsibility and duty to say no to our destructive urges; that as a center of value and of valuing, we may raise the question of oughtness and thereby cultivate an enduring sense of equality and a distinction between right and wrong. It is from this moral consideration and ethical social resolution, not boobs, bellies and butts nor brawn, that our equal dignity and worth as a unique, cherished individual person resides. While no person’s fingerprint or footprint is identical with that of any other person, anywhere or at any time, this is not the critical consideration since the same may be said for any leaf or snowflake. What is infinitely precious, however, is the singular individual person as a unique center of cognition, desires, wishes and aspirations housed in an electrochemical mammalian body. There is about each of us, not only something equally important, but something which is invincible, inviolable and not to be underestimated nor excoriated and then mistreated. The most important value-judgment we will ever make is the value we place on ourselves and correspondingly others.
The mighty historical, creative currents of the free enterprise system have flowed from main-street persons. The solar theory, which laid a vernal floor in the house of human knowledge, was not the joint research project of the astronomy department of some university; it came from the brain which became the mind of Copernicus. Plays in which the English language reached its zenith were not the product of a school of sixteenth-century scholars; they issued from the gifted, insightful pen of Shakespeare. The life-saving link between bacteria and the multiplicity of infectious diseases was not forged by nineteenth-century France; it was painstakingly developed by gnarled and crippled researcher Louis Pasteur. Not a committee of scientists, but the brilliant cogitations of Albert Einstein gave us the relativity theory. Without the family of Mayo brothers and their medical clinic, Rochester, Minnesota would be just another small USA town. Equally important is the every day American person born in obscurity without fame and fortune but honestly laboring daily to support their families and stabilizing our economy by paying their bills and taxes on time, in full and without being asked.
True power is always packaged as persons, and it is channeled into our universe through the sacrificial lives of committed individuals. If we should look for it in some colossal undertaking, we can miss it all together. The essence of our history is that when the epic time arrived for our benign, phylogenetic creator to manifest itself in some specific form, it did not choose a monument, mountain nor a museum or a star or any religion or establish a “church” with clerics having a holy book of “orthodoxy” rules, rites and rituals. It chose, instead, the single, flesh-and-blood, hair-and-bone, indomitable, irreplaceable and immeasurable human personality.