Do we have a dream?

Don Norvell

The human struggle is striving for perfection.

Biblically, we are taught that we once were perfect. We are taught that we are the crowning glory of God’s creation.

There is great order in the natural world. Among vertebrates, there are stable social structures. No government. No animosity except occasional feats of strength to impress potential mates. Merely an instinctive drive to cooperate.

Humanity was once like that. It was capitalism although the predominant incentives were survival and perpetuating the species instead of accumulating wealth.

Then we learned to think. As with all other learning processes, one must fail before one succeeds. This is the anthropological counterpart of “the fall” discussed by theologians.

Our thinking produced many bad ideas that haunt us to this day: Rape, murder, theft and prejudice are the first ones that come to mind. The human struggle is to unlearn these bad ideas so that we may return to the Eden we instinctively maintained millions of years ago.

In this struggle we try to improve society; however, society as a whole cannot change directly. Society is defined by the norms of its constituents. The real goal is to change individual hearts and minds.

This is why affirmative action laws cannot work!

It changes the institutions instead of the people. Companies do not conform to affirmative action laws because the CEO experienced a genuine change of heart but to avoid lawsuits.

The institutional prejudice decried by civil rights groups exists because affirmative action laws treat the symptom not the disease. Why would a company promote someone it didn’t want to hire in the first place?

Affirmative action laws fail because they are laws. Laws can govern actions but not thoughts. Our power is derived by our ability to think. We may be pressured to deny our thoughts, but we can never be forced to surrender our thoughts.

The spirit of the First Amendment is that “Congress shall make no law” to control or even regulate what we think. Not only is it impossible for a law to change one’s beliefs, but also it is dangerous to our hearts and minds to enact such a law.

How do we change?

Adopting a new way of thinking takes three steps:

1. Intellectual understanding;

2. Heart-felt belief;

3. Practical application.

Aside from small pockets of neo-Nazis, step one is complete in my estimation. Step two is difficult to judge; for some may profess their intellectual understanding in spite of their hearts (denying thoughts but not surrendering them).

While our parents and grandparents have tremendously improved since their Jim Crow childhoods, it is typically true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Even if step two is complete, application may elude them for the rest of their lives. No law can change that.

Our parents and grandparents have become far better role-models to us than previous generations to them. All we can do is be even better role-models for our children.

Perhaps someday, the world will once again be a giant nudist colony.

Don Norvell is a physics graduate assistant and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]