Sunday, October 26, 2008

Loyalty - Bad; Every Man for Himself - Good

Loyalty, bad - Every man for himself, good. Is that what political correctness is all about?

During a recent “meet and greet” I met a gentleman who relocated from Utah. He was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) aka “Mormon” as most Utahans are. In fact, he was a Unitarian – an organization that institutionalized the celebration of anything from the spiritual belief or disbelief menu that fits their member's fancy. This provision makes cafeteria Catholics and cafeteria Presbyterians appear to be exceptionally uncreative. He was also a senior manager of a company who hired many LDS employees for their well known characteristics of “dependability, respect for authority, and work ethic” - traits he admitted benefitted his company greatly.

His next comments had a surprisingly negative twist. He complained that the Mormons in Utah were predisposed to not question authority - too obediant, and were excessively “clickish”, not inviting their non-Mormon boss to social events for the umpteen years he worked there. He did admint, however, that LDS outside of Utah are much more socially inclusive of people of other faiths.

What was fascinating to me about his complaint is he appeared to want to have it “both ways”. He wanted obedient rebels. He wanted people who would do the work given to them and at the same time he wished they were more independent-minded and strong-willed “like folks in the rest of the country.” But then, would his company be able to stick to its strategic plan through unity and teamwork? Probably not.

The opposite scenario is the several Republican Sarah Palin handlers being upset for her being a "maverick." They want her to be a maverick at the same time they want her to be a "yes" woman.

Anyway, back to my Utah acquaintance. This gentleman’s critique is an apt representation of how far our nation has strayed from being “E Pluribus Unum” – “out of many, one.” Even though his company benefited from its’ employees respect for authority and related traits, he felt individuals practicing such traits were flawed in some manner - that their loyalty and obedience were oddly extreme. Well, in our society, respect for authority, dependability and the like are out of vogue. No wonder this individual thought it “unnatural.” These have become peculiar and uncommon traits. He is caught up in our “every man for himself” culture.

The Utah LDS he disdains for their “excess loyalty” reflects the character that could reunite the people of this nation. Their perceived “clickishness” is a cultural safeguard against being sucked into the larger devisive morass of our society. Or is our growing devisive, self-absorbed disdain for our cultural heritage and national goals seen as one of our nations' strengths? Hmmmm. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

We as a nation have strayed far afield from being united, with a common purpose. We have strayed from stressing things we have in common to "celebrating our differences." We have evolved into a nation that cherishes diversity (read: differences and disunity) above all. Why don't we identify and celebrate things we have in common with one another? Wouldn't that enhance chances of unity? Ahh, but it cuts against our rebellious grain. We disdain unity.

A poignant speech a la Thomas Paine and his “Common Sense” eloquently describes what we have become in this short video titled "The Ghost of Thomas Paine and the Second Revolution." View it here.

No comments: