Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bloody Crossroads or Public Square?

Comment #59
New York City
September 8th, 2009
10:09 am
New York City
September 8th, 2009
5:30 am
David Brooks asks his own question:

" But how does government alter culture?" in reference to an article in the new magazine National Affairs that Brooks is showcasing in his Opinion piece today.

Fortunately, no narrowly self-defined set of intellectuals writing safely in a magazine can substantively shape a running cultural narrative in the streets, where Democracy lives (or dies).

It's not what you call the "Bloody Crossoards" that We the People seek, but the Public Square where Hearts and Minds can meet, not always amicably, but meet neveretheless.

US Culture of WE the People lives, albeit gasping now -- both geopolitically and fiscally.

Can we instead reverse Brooks' question and ask "How can Culture alter Government?"

Culture is the expanding totality of divergent, distributed, meaningful symbols, held and performed by a people, occupying a particular space, over a considerable period of time.

Assuredly, there are shifts of emphases in these divergent meaningful symbols in space over time -- freedom, liberty, happiness, dominance, violence, war, poverty, wealth, family, faith, state.

The US govt has consistently failed to listen to US Culture. The US Govt. has failed to hear its very own people as they experienced significant cultural shifts -- the 1900's and slavery, the 60's and Vietnam , for example. Equally, the US govt. has failed to keep its ear to the ground to hear cultural messages spoken in other voices, as also at home, in its continuing depredations around the globe.

The diverse, dynamic and vibrant culture of We the People can and must alter the US government, not the other way around.

Let us see if the culture of We the People will trump govt on healthcare and in Afghanistan, for a start.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright

The Bloody Crossroads

A new quarterly magazine called National Affairs occupies the bloody crossroads where social science and public policy meet matters of morality, culture and virtue.