Dissolve into Evergreens
Sunday, Meet the Pres. MSNBC - Find "Meet the P...
Lost in Translation This is a movie review of s...
Do you take this women...? Marriage is a sacred...
Trees are pretty! What a pair.
Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and...
Spending out both ends This is a continuation o...
Snow Arrives! This morning I woke up and wa...
Tulsa... Theater... Tulsa? The Midwestern Theat...
An Okie comments on the primaries among other thin...
Great article about digital cameras! Digital Se...
The Flaming Lips
The New Radicals
Death Cab for Cutie
Badly Drawn Boy
Coheed and Cambria
Atom Site Feed
Things I know, things I suspect
Conservatives and liberals see the world in two fundamentally different ways. One, the conservative, in a very two dimensional way. There is a right and wrong and we know what is right and we know what is wrong. The other, the liberal, lives in a world of constant reassessment. Right and wrong are a matter of perspective, subject to evidence. The conservative draws his conclusions based on what he "knows", this usually means he goes with what is familiar, or traditional. The liberal is constantly looking for new ways to see the world and measuring up tradition versus inquiry. Right and wrong are subject to further testing.
To say that one worldview is right and the other is wrong doesn't take into consideration the benefits these two ways of looking at the world provide to society.
... and that, is a very liberal thing to say.
Conservatism has the benefit of fighting for what has worked before. There is a virtue in sticking with what works. Otherwise we might always be tossing out the tried and true for the new fangled. bad things happen when bad ideas replace good ideas. The downside being that progress, even when good, has to overcome those that fight any new idea that challenges the traditions. Much good has been delayed because some were certain that change would result in Earth shattering evil. Conservatism has the advantage of presenting the world is a very clear black and white set of circumstances. This can lead to easy decision making. Reducing the world to its starkest elements has power. Calming the chaos can bring people to consensus. In times of danger this means that what needs to get done gets done. Many people see this as an admirable quality in Bush. His campaign will make the case that we are in a time of great danger and that we need a clear and stark view of the world to deal with that danger. The downside comes from reducing the world down to too simple a vision. "You are with us or you are against us", "good versus evil". This can lead to disastrous consequences. All the bad guys, no matter what degree of crimes they have committed, become evil. Entire nations become populated with psychopathic killers. Entire races become scapegoats for all that is wrong with the world and must therefore be wiped from the planet. The killer is a sinner the same as a gay person, the same as a genocidal tyrant, the same as an atheist. A tax cut is a tax cut is a tax cut.
Liberalism has the benefit of pushing for change and always asking questions. When something is not working it is better to try something new. When there is an injustice it is preferable to risk destroying the whole system to try to make that one thing better. If we find something that works better then we should throw out the old. The downside being that we risk destroying good ideas that have worked well and would continue to work well. We could throw society into chaos for the sake of "righting a wrong". The solution, or the experiment may be worse than the problem we are trying to fix. It also pulls people in different directions. Too much time and effort can be spent debating competing ideas and considering possibilities and not enough time spent acting or reacting to real dangers. In a conflict, the side that acts with the most cohesion and confidence usually wins. Give two men one sack of gold and two guns, and the first guy to grab a gun and fire will get the gold. In a world where violence is always a possibility people will resort to its use. In contrast to the stark bipolar world of conservatism, liberals see things as competing theories, or possibilities. Nothing is ever truly right and nothing is ever truly wrong. This ignores the reality that there is really evil things in the world that will kill you if you don't see them coming. The killer that has you by the throat can be reasoned with, you only just need to present him with evidence why he shouldn't hurt you.
I am a liberal. For a while I shunned that term because in the black and white world of people like Rush Limbaugh simply being a liberal makes you wrong. This means that no matter how reasonable a person you are, no matter how well you present your case, no matter how strong your evidence you are still wrong by simple fact of being a liberal. However, I have realized that you cannot get around a term like that. As soon as I try to argue my case by presenting evidence, or by trying to present new perspectives, I am engaging in liberalism. The simple fact that I try to see what's wrong with being a liberal is part of the practice. Conservatives don't sit around and try to find ways that conservative thought might be bad for society. There's no need. They're right! They argue their case based on their moral certainty. To me it sounds like circular logic, but to conservatives it makes perfect sense. For example, we must defeat the evildoers because they are evil and deserved to be destroyed. Simple, yes, but effective. The problem, like I said above, comes when you start throwing petty criminals and the hard core villains into the same pot of evil. The pot of evildoers grows until we find ourselves shooting innocent people because they are simply the wrong color or standing on the wrong piece of land. Conservatives argue that liberals simply refuse to acknowledge that some people are just plain evil. We always look to make excuses for their actions. If we could only find out why they're bad, we could make things better. So we end up with liberals coddling terrorists and asking them about their childhoods while we get conservatives bombing peasant villages.
Obviously we could use a little bit of both kinds of thinking. In moderation if at all possible. People are never really ALL conservative or ALL liberal. But I think we individually fall into one of those two broad categories. Its very difficult to accept the black and white vision of the conservative world at the same time you embrace the evidentiary world of liberalism. Institutions in our society reflect this schism. Science, religion, arts, and the military have internal structual biases towards ways of thinking. I can trust you know which is which. You can even tell the difference in discussions from either side, whether people argue from evidence or they argue from conviction. Once again, I'll leave that for you to decide which is which.
My next question, are these behaviors learned or are they engrained?
Dissolve into Evergreens