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Responsibility and Choice

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  • Exist List Moderator
    My students vary in social activism, and not along neat political lines but along religious values and their inculcated cultural values. The most active are
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 12, 2007
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      My students vary in social activism, and not along neat political
      lines but along religious values and their inculcated cultural values.

      The most active are the most religious. They do not view social
      contracts as choice, but rather as duty mandated by faith. This poses
      a conundrum for me, since I am engaged and often anti-religious.

      But, I do admire the students on state-wide bike rides for cancer or
      AIDS. How can I disparage working at a food bank or homeless shelter?
      And yet, these students admit they first think about duty, and then
      how the actions make them feel. Curiously, what they feel is often
      religious in nature and not a connection to those they are helping.

      I am pondering this based on the "all things are political" argument.
      If the most generous, most socially connected in terms of their
      actions, are from a particularly conservative value base, this is
      interesting to me -- as documented by several major studies and at
      least one best-selling book last year.

      At the same time, few of my students vote -- and I missed (skipped)
      the elections last year because I didn't know anything about
      Minnesota politics. Voting as political is not the same as being
      socially connected. I think we overstate the value of politics in
      comparison what other organizations and people do, regardless of
      their motives.

      I might not like how Islam is being favored by the university with
      foot baths, a prayer room, and a new finals schedule. But I do
      respect how the Muslim community came together to help the family of
      an I35W victim. There was a social, a communal, effort to support the
      family and the surviving children. This is not "political" any more
      than the traditions of various ethnic communities to come together at
      times of need.

      Political is overused. What we should worry about is communal -- and
      I say this as a libertarian with no faith in government but a lot of
      "faith" in what I see within my community. There are a lot of
      volunteer groups here. That's what I appreciate. People wanting to
      help each other, regardless of ulterior ("Heaven"?) motives.


      - C. S. Wyatt
      I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
      that I shall be.
      http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
      http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer



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