In the current climate of “freedom of conscience”, I have been pondering what freedom means.  I can’t help but return again and again to words of Byron Katie in Loving What Is: “There is my business, your business and God’s business.”  For the less religiously or spiritually inclined, it might read, “There is my business, your business and nobody’s business.”  And, as George Constanza so eloquently bellows, “You know, we’re living in a society!!”

Living in a society, how do we preserve “my business” or the freedom of the individual?  When it comes to “freedom of conscience”, have we the freedom to apply our conscience to the actions of others?  The answer for me is, quite simply, no.  I apply my conscience to my choices and allow others their conscience and their choices.  This is the freedom to be legislated and what I believe our forefathers were after, a freedom of individual conscience and choice within a societal context despite the conscience of others.

Add to this the application of pragmatism, which has been suggested to be the  foundation for our context of freedom. Pragmatism, as I understand it, recognizes the individual experience.  When individual experience is common to the majority, i.e. killing each other is not acceptable, then laws are made to address the killing of one another.  However, even within these laws, experiential allowances are included.  For instance, the determination of intent is broken down into degrees of murder and manslaughter.  We are allowed to be angry, we just aren’t allowed to infringe on the being of another with our actions.

I hear the cry that conscience is being infringed upon if I have to support the choices of others.  To me, supporting the choices of others has everything to do with living in a society.  We preserve individual choice, mine and yours.  I choose to make a wrong turn on a one-way road and get into an accident.  I have insurance that helps amend that mistaken choice.  Universal healthcare is the preservation of societal finances and well-being by allowing each other our choices while pooling our resources to amend individual mistakes in the least financially detrimental way for both the individual and society.

Because, here’s the thing, though we each have an experience of God’s intent, we are not any one of us God or, in secular terms, all-knowing.  There is enough discrepancy of experience of life and its meaning that we have not entered a common experience of it, so how can we be to a point of legislating it?  In fact, it begs the question, is not life and its meaning fully in the hands of God, or certainly outside the realm of human understanding and no one person’s business?  Does any one of us truly have our mind around life and its meaning?  Seems to me that cannot be the case in as much as the meaning of life is the ultimate human inquiry.

In support,

~ Jacqueline

I recently finished reading Marcus Buckingham’s latest success, Find Your Strongest Life.  Ever since I was introduced to his perspective on Strengths when he was with the team at Gallup, I have been absolutely sold on the concept.  Check it out.

That being said, I waited until I’d finished the book because an alternative perspective occured to me early on based on research points he shared in deriving his own material.  I wanted to see whether he happened upon it at some point in the book, which he did not, so here I am.

The research points Marcus reported that had an impact on my thought process were as follows:

  • As a result of having better education, better jobs, and better pay, women today are [not] happier and more fulfilled than [we] were forty years ago.  In fact, surveys of more than 1.3 million men and women reveal that women today are less happy relative to where [we] were forty years ago, and relative to men.
  • Most men (and women for that matter) [actually do not] think that men should be the primary breadwinner and women…the primary caretake of home and family.  In fact, opinion of which roles are most appropriate for men and women to play is not now determined by…sex.
  • Women would [not] prefer to work for other women.  Almost twice as many women want to work for men rather than women; 40 percent compared to 26 percent, with the remainder saying they wouldn’t care one way or the other.

In addition to these, I take into consideration these other observations:

  • In matriarchal societies and in current diversity studies, women are typically seen to tend toward collaboration and an equality of power vs men who tend toward hierarchy and a structured allocation of power.  This is well illustrated where men will typically set up a room for a meeting with a head table vs. women who will typically set up a meeting room “in the round”.
  • Our business practices coming out of the industrial age are highly influenced by what worked for those coming out of the military and starting businesses, which was a considerably great majority of men returning from two major wars occuring within decades of each other.  Quite simply, what resulted is a hierarchical structure to ensure compliance to the goals and tasks at hand.

I do not discount Marcus’ conclusion that women are overwhelmed with choices in life, more to juggle and balance, as this is my experience.  It just also occurs to me how we, as women, with a generally different way of working, in our quest for equality, have been molding ourselves into a primarily male construct, as it were.  Not that this is right or wrong, mind you, it just is what it is.  I submit that our choice to plug in to something less natural for us has left us, generally speaking, much less than satisfied even though our quest for freedom to contribute to society is being addressed.  This likely explains why so many businesses are being started by women in our more current day and age as a way to more freely do as we do.

I like to believe that now that women are in the workforce in force, we are having an affect on the overall construct of the workplace and how we do business in general.  It is my belief that by businesses actively appreciating what women and myriad points of our diverse population bring, will our US of A meet with true success in leading the global economy.