A conforming citizen is not a requirement, though some agreement is necessary. Hoo-nōs
The title above is a nod to the 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein, who also introduced the word “grok.” My understanding of “grok” is it is a multilayered and nuanced term involving being thoroughly one with—whomever and whatever one seeks to apprehend deeply.
I would observe, as I’ve written previously, that any attempt to become one entity—a kind of “stepford” citizenry—is a fool’s errand given the incredible diversity of lifeforms and “landscapes.” While it may be a breath of fresh air to be around life and landscapes we can relate with and to, perhaps what is inherent in the vision laid out by the Constitution and Bill of Rights is an embrace of diversity itself and a notion about how and to what extent that diversity may be governed.
I wonder if we’ve “screwed the pooch” already or if we’re merely in the process of doing so. Organizational citizenship behavior is important, but snarling around the pool of resources, vying for first dibs via powerplays is not citizenship, it is an attempt to control the acquisition and distribution of those resources. Governance is oversight, not control. Governance is an agreement, not a ceding. We do not have to, nor can we, make everyone the same. But demanding compliance is not a priori, it is merely an agreement and that agreement does not allow for those entrusted with the stewardship of governance to change or redefine the agreement in accordance to their beliefs. In our system, the agreement is nested with the people, but even that is not sacrosanct as the people can be wrong. The system of checks and balances exists for very good reason. It speaks to a very nuanced system and the importance of grokking it is imperative. It is not grokking to arrange cut-outs—those not privileged to partake in “our” system—as our system is not closed! What about criminals one might ask? Well, they’re part of our system and our stewardship as well. Even if we have to lock them up, we are not allowed to throw away the key.
Perhaps we might feel safer if we rid ourselves of some notion there is only one right way to do things. Yet what do many of those “in power” do with their rudder? We are now hearing, once again, about the evils of socialism mostly from folks who at least implicitly laud the benefits of capitalism as the opportunity to improve one’s standing at the resource table. Yet a resource position is not really what capitalism is, it is an economic system designed for diversity, not for class. And if socialism is the control of resource distribution, many get into politics because they are allowed to practice political socialism while pounding the drums of populace capitalism. There will always be strangers. There will always be diversity. There will always be uncertainty. “Unscrewing the pooch” might mean having more than a hammer in our cognitive/emotional toolbox. And maybe we might have to get over the propensity for spectacle—especially the bludgeoning of others and their notions. Again, we do not have to dine with everyone, but we might have to live with them being around—and they with us.