Yoism is, in large part, based on the freedom-focused, religious ideals found in the philosophy of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. These enlightenment values and ideals arose in Europe and were brought with the early American settlers to the New World. Yoism's 10 Sacred Principles attempt to flesh out a more complete, overarching vision for the fulfillment of the glorious American, social experiment that was started more than two hundred years ago.
So what makes the American social experiment so special?
Human history — including the past century and even current events — is replete with ethnic and racial strife. The evidence is simply overwhelming that the human story is one of conquest, subjugation, enslavement, and "ethnic cleansing" via expulsion and genocide. Universal Human Rights is a modern concept and it has not been widely implemented.
A very good case has been made that the freedoms within the nation states of Europe — some of which equal or exceed the United States in this regard — do not indicate progress toward the ability to establish universal human rights within a diverse society. Indeed, European progress toward universal human rights may indicate how much freedom and cooperation and progressive social supports can be established when a society has eliminated the vast majority of cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity. This may explain why America, while it was the richest nation, had made so little progress toward universal health care compared to ethnically more homogeneous European states.
Though there have been numerous attempts to form larger states and empires that encompass people of different ethnicities, they rarely have granted equal rights to all within and they have only been stable as long as there was a central power willing and able to use murderous force to maintain the state. As soon as they lose the will or ability to commit mass murder, such empires fragment into ethnic enclaves. The most recent and already classic examples are the breakups of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
America, in contrast, was founded on the principle of respect for the individual with individual rights that are sacrosanct, i.e., that the State cannot usurp. It is true that, at first, these rights only were given to white, male, European landowners. But the principles espoused and the Constitutional Law that was established were, at their very core, opposed to any such restriction.
It took the terrible American Civil War that came close to ending the Union of the diverse states and regions, and more than two hundred years for basic rights to accrue to all human beings living in the United States. However, America is the only nation with such a high degree of ethnic/racial/religious diversity to come so close to real human rights for all its citizens, regardless of their degree of health, sex, race, creed, or ethnicity.
It is simply a fact that humanity has never created such a large and diverse group with a history of both increasing diversity and increasing human rights. Of course, there were setbacks and there still are significant problems and tensions in America. There is much work to be done if America is to realize fully the ideals upon which it was founded. Yet, the United States — the very name being indicative of the phenomenon we are discussing — is humanity's experimental crucible for the development of a model for sustainable diversity and freedom.
Writing the Next Chapter of the American Experiment
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One may argue that there are freer nations; and there are. One may argue that there are nations that care for their citizens better; and there are. One may argue that there are more than one or two nations that contain different ethnic groups and yet have a political system that is designed to protect the rights of all; and there are.
However, only in America has ethnic diversity been INCREASING (with simultaneous increases in human rights) so that the majority ethnic groups are slowly allowing themselves to be eclipsed by immigration patterns. White Europeans will soon comprise less than 50% of the American population.
The United States is becoming an experimental model for the truly progressive, enlightenment, multicultural values that will have to prevail if our planet is ever to become peaceful. While there are terrible planetary problems and large parts of the world in which such progress is not occurring and is even going backward, there has never been a demonstration that this project of ethnic diversity with universal human rights can succeed.
There are terrible intergroup conflicts between those who would impose their beliefs on all others and an emerging post-enlightenment group of those who would impose only one belief: that one must not impose one's beliefs on others, i.e., that within the limits required to maintain a social system that can maintain human rights, each individual has the divine right to freely choose what to believe and how to live. This overarching conflict has yet to be resolved. Still, we need to know whether or not it is even possible to establish multi-ethnic harmony and solidarity without segregation into separate living areas. Humanity has yet to answer this question.
While to many the answer seems obvious ("Of course, it's possible!"), the fact is that this experiment has yet to be carried out successfully. Those who believe that America has largely reached this goal are ignoring a number of facts.
First, America is very young and hasn't been challenged by centuries of warfare on its own soil. Threats at home often cause social groups to forfeit personal freedom for the sake of survival of the group. While this may be necessary at times, America has simply not had to face this problem and it is not clear what the response would be. For example, the critical rights of habeas corpus that are a cornerstone of freedom from tyranny were recently set back by the Bush Administration with nary a peep from the American populace. A single, albeit horrific, act of violence on American soil and the American people passively relinquished a vital element that protects the individual from tyranny.
Second, America is still a long way from achieving full universal rights and justice based on real participation in an electoral democracy. A large part of the American electorate doesn't vote. Surveys show that few Americans even understand the principles of freedom embodied in the American Bill of Rights. Even those elected to be its lawmakers don't understand the relationship between constitutional protections and precious individual liberty without which there would be no great diversity with freedom. So it is not hard to imagine circumstances in which even more rights would be willingly voted away by the American electorate.
Third, America's truly great tolerance of diversity and it's sanctification of freedom have developed in an incredibly rich nation in which even the poorest people are wealthy compared to how most of humanity lives. American economic superiority is waning and its consumptive binge on borrowed money is coming to an end. When things become scarce and Americans find there is less to go around, then we will see if the principles of universal human rights and respect for others can be maintained.
So, America hasn't withstood certain tests and there are signs that, under the right pressures, much of the American electorate would be willing to vote away the basic principles that protect their freedom.
Finally, American justice is greatly slanted by politics, race, and wealth. Freedom is sacrificed on the alter of soundbite electoral politics: America — The Land of the Free — has a much higher percentage of its citizens in prison than any other nation, including totalitarian dictatorships! And America is also the world leader in capital punishment, with no nation even close in second place :-(
What this means is that the vital experiment going on in America is far from over. There is much work to be done before we can know the results of the experiment. While the Great American Social Experiment offers us hope, we have yet to produce one fully conclusive demonstration that the human species can organize itself on a large scale that includes different racial, ethnic, and religious groupings and maintain respect for one another with true justice and freedom for all.
Yoism exists, in large part, to see if our species can bring to fruition this inspiring, sacred, human aspiration, wherever there are people who are making the attempt.
"Democracy is coming to the USA."
by Leonard Cohen
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It's comin' from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin'
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It's comin' to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It's here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it's here they got the spiritual thirst
It's here the family's broken
And it's here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It's comin' from the women and the men
O baby, we'll be makin' love again
We'll be goin' down so deep
The river's gonna weep
And the mountain's gonna shout, "Amen!"
It's comin' like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on...