About Shaker Museum
The Shaker Museum is an online resource that celebrates everything, and anything related to the Shakers in American history.
You have to understand, that the Shakers were not just a religious group. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be here. There will just be another religious group, among thousands and thousands of religious groups, that have either moved to, or grew up in the United States.
What makes them distinctive, is their set of values that continue to hold a conversation with the American imagination, to this very day. While there is a lot to agree with, in terms of their past focus on rebirth, forgiveness, renewal, and opportunity, there are also certain threads in the Shaker historical cultural vocabulary, that rub people the wrong way.
Let’s face it. The modern Americans feel entitled to a fair world. The word fair, as well as equality, is very common words to todays youth, as well as to todays politicians. In fact, too many of them kick these words around frequently. And this really warps a lot of our social, cultural dialogue, because it doesn’t really fit history.
A lot of the thinking behind the concept, inequality, is actually based on the philosophy of the French thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau famously said that, while man was born free, everywhere he is in chains. He’s talking about inequality. He’s talking about the fact that, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.
He’s also talking about, the very small segment of the population controls the vast majority of the power. They call the shots. There’s something wrong with this. This is unacceptable. He was saying that this is unnatural, but the way he made that point is worth noting. Because this is where a lot of people slip up.
He said that people were born free. In other words, this is our natural state. That we are supposed to be equal right out of the womb. Right out of the gate, things were supposed to be equal. But there’s only one problem with that, it turns out to be a lie.
He, himself, said so in his book. He said that this is an assumption. This is an experiment, I don’t really know. Well, it turns out, after an intensive research by social anthropologists, that primitive society, the ones that get really close to our “born state”, are not egalitarian.
They have rigid hierarchies. They’re unequal just like any other modern social group. So the whole idea of inequality is built on shaky foundations. It’s built on sand.
Unfortunately, when we believe in all sorts of cultural values that turned out to be built on sand and speculation, we end up causing harm to the rest of our society, and ultimately, our lives. It turns out that we’re chasing after shadows. We’re chasing after an ideal that doesn’t really exist.
It is not rooted in how human beings work, because all of us are unequal. Not everybody can play like Michael Jordan. Not everybody has the same IQ. Not everybody has the same work ethic.
It’s these differences that make life awesome, something to think about.