Elections and Good Governance: A Back-to-the-Body Perspective

Fishermen in Brazil

Fishermen in Brazil

Within two weeks, there will be presidential elections in Brazil—and people’s hopes again rise that the country will put away its troubles and face a brighter future. In this article I will consider again the topic of good governance as a reflection of a good life in our own physical bodies. Thus, we go to the body to find out what a good life is, and then we apply what we learn to the nation. By learning to live well in the body, we can also learn to live well in the nation.

Balance is the Key to Living Well

Balance: Living Well

Balance: Living Well

The beauty and wholesomeness of life consists in maintaining balance between two poles: the stomach and the brain, centering on the heart. (Click here for greater details with regard to these metonymies.) People who live well are the ones who value equally both the brain and the stomach. These are two powerful forces that attempt to dominate the whole personality, but they can be kept in balance if the center of that balance is the heart.

Thus, we have the three fundamental rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Each of these rights refer to a specific part of the body’s triad, as follows: “Life” refers to the stomach; “liberty” refers to the brain; and “the pursuit of happiness” refers to heart.

By stating that the “heart” needs to be the center of the interaction between stomach and brain, we are actually saying that the relationship between “stomach” and “brain” needs to be calibrated through the value of “pursuit of happiness”—in other words, through the value of seeking joy.

Joy is the Purpose of Life and Liberty

It is for the purpose of obtaining joy that we live; and it is for the purpose of obtaining joy that we seek liberty or freedom. Without life, how can we be happy? And without freedom, how can we be happy? Balance in the physical body, therefore, consists in calibrating the relationship between life and freedom centered on the impulse to seek joy—or the pursuit of happiness.

An individual that attains this balance is the perfected individual, the hope the ages, the Übermensch of Nietzsche, the perfect person of Jesus (Matt. 5:48). This is the individual we seek to guide the nation.

Individual perfection, then, is a dynamic rather than a static state. It is a state of equilibrium between the two poles of “life” and “liberty.” It is possible to maintain this equilibrium as long as we keep “heart” as the center—in other words, as long as a person’s fundamental motivation is the pursuit of happiness, of the impulse to seek joy.

Ideology Is Not Heart

Ideology Bottles

Ideology Bottles

What if the center of a person’s life becomes ideology rather than heart? What if the fundamental motivation of an individual comes from the brain’s understanding of a certain world view rather than from the impulse to pursue happiness? Such a life will be a distortion, an aberration—and the fruits of this life will not be good. No ideology can replace the impulse of heart as the fundamental motivation for life.

Thus, we can say that a “pure heart” is the heart that resonates with the pursuit of happiness—and an impure heart is the one that has become infested with ideology and is controlled by the brain. Human history is awash with examples of individuals who were motivated with ideology and then left a trail of blood and destruction.

A Balanced Country Centered on a Wholesome Culture

Having considered that a perfected individual is one in which the forces of the stomach and of the brain are in balance centering on the heart, we can now apply the same paradigm to determine what a good country is. A good country is one in which the forces of the stomach (the people) and the forces of the brain (the government) are balanced with the center on the heart of the country (the culture). This balance consists in the harmonization of the Left Wing and the Right Wing of a nation, centering on the culture of the country. (Click here for a more detailed explanation of how the Left and the Right need to be balanced.)

In order for this balance to occur, the relationship between stomach (people) and brain (government) needs to be centered on an authentic culture. A culture is authentic when it vibrates with the heart of the nation—in other words, when it is an impulse to pursue happiness. The pursuit of happiness is an emotional force coming from the heart. The danger is to allow the heart to become impure—in other words, to become infested with ideology coming from the brain. A culture that has been captured by ideology will produce a sickly and wobbling nation. This nation will be limping either to the Left or to the Right. This nation will not be prosperous.

Voice of the Heart

Voice of the Heart

In order to be wholesome and prosperous, then, a nation needs authentic voices of the heart—in other words, voices that are pure as an impulse from the heart rather than a reflection of an ideology produced by the brain. These are the intellectuals, the artists, the religious leaders, the people with a great vision for the nation. Such voices are a wholesome influence upon the nation. They bring hope and do the country good.

These positive influences on the country are not necessarily members of the government. They are part of the culture of the country—in other words, the heart of the country. They are not part of the brain of the country, which is its government. Why is that so? Because the government is necessarily partisan, just like the brain has two hemispheres—the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. Likewise, the government will be either from the Right or from the Left. Thus, an individual that intends to join the government must necessarily take sides—either the Right or the Left.

The division of the brain (i.e., the government) into Right and Left is not evil or undesirable. We have seen that the human brain is so divided as well. We must know, though, that neither the Left nor the Right will be the ideal government, but rather a balance between the two tendencies. This may be the great advancement that we need to make in the 21st Century—namely, the understanding that neither the Right nor the Left is perfect. The best way is to find a balance between the two parties.

Pres. Abraham Lincoln

Pres. Abraham Lincoln

In another article, I discussed how Pres. Abraham Lincoln managed to create this balance between Right and Left in his administration by inviting his rivals to share power with him. This gives us a good model to follow, if we want to create a system of government that functions well and produces good governance for the people.

As Brazil prepares for its national elections within a couple of weeks, I hope they will find a way out of the current difficulties in the nation by creating a balance between the Right and the Left. In order to achieve that, I hope a chorus of voices of the heart will be heard in Brazil, calling people to a wholesome and prosperous way of life.

I conclude with a quote:

O es sind heilige Tage, wo unser Herz zum ersten Male die Schwingen übt, wo wir, voll schnellen feurigen Wachstums, dastehn in der herrlichen Welt, wie die junge Pflanze, wenn sie der Morgensonne sich aufschließt, und die kleinen Arme dem unendlichen Himmel entgegenstreckt.
Excerpt From: Friedrich Hölderlin. ‘Hyperion oder Der Eremit in Griechenland.’ iBooks.

IN ENGLISH: O, they are holy days when our heart first tests its wings, when we, full of swift, fiery growth, stand in the glorious world like the young plant that opens itself up to the morning sun and stretches its little arms toward the infinite heavens.

Photo: Fishermen in Brazil; Author: Lyssuel Calvet; Source: http://bit.ly/1ss3lH8; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Balance and Live Well; Author: Alice Popkorn; Source: http://bit.ly/1vYwQzR; CC License:
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo: Ideology Bottles; Author: dμ; Source: http://bit.ly/1vV6vmX; CC License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Photo: Indian Dance; Author: Ash Kapoor; Source: http://bit.ly/1tlIzeL; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo: Voice of the Heart; Author: Nate Edwards; Source: http://bit.ly/1z18xqj; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Photo: Abraham Lincoln; Author: Lia; Source: http://bit.ly/1xFZC9y; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


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