Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Argument in Favor of Abolishing Certain Words Altogether

Frankly, friend, I cannot agree with what D'Souza is calling the difference between "liberals" and "conservatives". From what I can tell in the article, he is simply restating the buzzwords that society is using right now in defining (and widening) the split between the American people and the issues that really matter.

 “…liberalism has become the party of anti-Americanism, economic plunder, and immorality. By contrast, conservative policies are not only more likely to produce the good society, but they are also the best means to achieve liberal goals such as peace, tolerance, and social justice.”  I note here (and throughout the rest of the letter) a focus on division. He has created his own idea of a “liberal” person and in his reality, that is all there is – this straw man who exists in opposition to everything he believes.  Also, I note that I am behind in the times – liberalism is a party now. I had no idea!

Let us pretend, for a moment, that these two words do not exist to annoy the subconscious with vivid images of hippies and tie-wearers. That we are simply American people (though that in itself is a loaded word) trying to make life better for each person living here. What do our issues then become? Food, clothing, shelter for all - I should think these would be the issues of immediate importance. Health care would be a big one. The opportunity to work for a living. These are the life issues at the core of Christ’s message to “love God” and “Love your neighbor.”

I have met "conservatives" and "liberals' who have these values at their core, who make positive decisions for the good of others every day. I am offended by the sweeping generalizations this man makes - for what purpose? How does the statement that "Conservatives know better" help anyone in this world live their life more happily, or even make better decisions at the polls? As far as I can tell, Zach, he seems to be feeding off a large, dead, smelly carcass of assumptions, none of which will make him, or anyone else, a better human being. Note his focus on the "decline" of liberalism - all his statements are against this image which he himself has built up in very prettily worded sentences that don’t end up saying much in the end. I don't hear him make one positive statement throughout the whole narrative which convinces me in any way that he has issues that matter in his heart. I am offended not only for the people he pegs “liberals”, but the “conservatives” too. Does "conservative" automatically mean you support capitalism? Do I need to drive an SUV now if I want to consider myself a conservative? If I think socialized medicine is a good idea but I’m not sure about abortion, do I have to register as a “durn fence-straddler”?

I’m not actually trying to rile anyone up (though I am a bit riled myself) – I’m just trying to show how ridiculous I think it is to focus so much on the difference between two words that ultimately do no one any good. If we really want to make a difference in our country, we obviously have to cast a vote for someone – but it doesn’t have to be about their label on some randomly defined spectrum. If a person’s decisions reflect a desire to benefit humanity, to show love and caring to the poor, sick, hungry, and broken of the world, THAT is who I want to plant my flag under. Sometimes that person will be labeled a conservative, and sometimes that person will be labeled a liberal. But these labels have never, and will never mean as much as the things that really value – the things that do not have anything to do with my “leftness” or “rightness”, but who I show the love of Christ, and how I spend my time. 

So to make this a Christian issue, I think it is our moral imperative as Christians to fight the divisions in society that make it more difficult to fulfill Christ’s desire for the world.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, naked, and you gave me clothing, in prison, and you visited me.” These are the words that Christ uses in his story telling how he plans to judge people. That seems to tell me it’s pretty darn important, and I know you agree. Christ’s life points to a life of uncompromising love – and that definitely didn’t get him much respect from society at the time. “This man associates with sinners”, “This man talks to tax collectors!” Here is a man who offended across the political spectrum with his radical love – neither right nor left, but love.

 I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I think there is a middle ground, and that it is crucial that we strive to be mediators for the good of all. And that means that we may all fall under different labels when society looks at us. But the importance for you and me as Christians is that no matter how society sees us politically, they cannot escape seeing that Christ’s love is glorified in our lives.


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1 comment:

lupyles said...

Bravo! I concur. I would also like to add in response to D'Souza's statement "Conservatives support capitalism because it is a way of steering our natural pursuit of self-interest toward the material betterment of society at large," that capitalism often does not serve the interests of society at large, such as what we see with the housing/credit crises today.

I know, I done went and made it all political again. But I like your letter, I think it says everything necessary in response to this dude.