From the Preamble of our Commonwealth’s Constitution –
“The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.”
I accept the premise of a “social compact,” based on a mutual agreement, a covenant.
There’s a glitch in the logic of John Adams, who penned most of our state constitution. That time was a time of revolution. Colonists were making choices to part from the rule of the British monarchy. The mere presence of choice begat a consensus which sprang from consent (apart from the Tories).
Today, the lottery of birth plops us in America, in Massachusetts. We are jammed by cosmic forces into the “social compact.” Are we endentured to the covenant?
I’ll assert, “Yes, we are. Sort of.” America has flaws. Thus, I accept my role in America within the paradigm of the social compact. However, I don’t feel beholden to the flaws our Founders incorporated into our society and governance. I align with Lincoln who enunciated the enterprise of a “more perfect Union.” We strive to improve and enhance the gift of American democracy. It isn’t a static state to be strictly enforced, as the right wing originalists would dictate at us. That said, there is a framework. I reject the efforts of Anarchists. Or, political philosophies that hope to disintegrate the framework and utterly reset the American experiment.
I’ve said all that to ask this, “Are those of us with the least (in terms of material status) relieved of any responsibilities to the social compact?”
The Homelessness Crisis has recently popped into the public square. Many have opinions. Few do “the work.”
I read a LOT of opinions that contend that the unhoused have no obligations to the broader community that coexist around them. They push the notion that the broader community is obligated, by an abundance of wealth, status, and priviledge, to concede to the unhoused on every front. These opinions tell us that the broader community should simply provide as the unhoused demand. Full stop.
I can’t abide by that, if the social compact is what I take it to be.
I don’t abide that the elite classes can, by virtue of their abundance of wealth, status and privilege, exploit me and the fruits of my labor. The flip side to this is I refuse to be yoked to carrying other people’s weight.
Now, I spend an inordinate amount of time, punching up. I feel strongly that wealth has been redistributed to the elites. That class struggles drive much of the discord on the planet. As such, I’m inclined to put extra effort in weaving a social safety net. In my mind, the urgency for us, as a community, to provide a hand up to our neighbors is ever present.
A hand up! Not, a hand out in perpetuity.
As we rack our hive mind, attempting to solve the unsolvable (homelessness), let’s habitually mend the frays and tears to the social compact. One big step is not to give immunity from stewardship to those with the very most, or the very least. We should not expect a level of contribution. No one, however, should only take and never contribute.