I was in an online discussion in response to the Bob Costas gun control comments from Sunday Night Football. I did not think his comments were appropriate whether you agree with him or not (and for full disclosure I do not). However, gun control is not the subject of these thoughts.
As the discussion progressed, it eventually became the same back and forth name calling: “Flaming Liberal!”, “Racist, sexist Conservative!”, “Idiot!”, etc. Topics like abortion (which really gets my blood pumping, but again not the subject), civic rights and welfare surfaced. I made a comment about most civil rights legislation in our nations history being introduced by Republicans and often fought by Democrats (which is true, you can look it up). However, the response, while not anything new, really got me thinking.
One person made the point that I couldn’t actually call the Republicans of Lincoln’s time “conservative”. He went on to say that parties have changed ideological standpoints many times through the years. I’ve thought about this before and I know people that were once “Old Line” Democrats that are now Republicans. Again, this is not yet the focus but the background.
I decided to do a little digging. How is Conservatism defined? How is Liberalism defined? Is how they are thought of today the same as how they were intended be? Do the definitions really define the core of what they stand for?
I have always considered myself a conservative. Under Bush I adopted the “Compassionate Conservative” label. Later I added my own “Responsible Capitalism” tag. There may be some Republican ideals I question, but there are some Democratic views that I can never align myself with. But, in this discussion the same thought came back to me as before. When I am around staunch conservatives (90% of the time), all I hear is how stupid liberals are and how idiotic they can be. I have very seldom heard some of these people actually agree with anything a person says after they have found one thing they disagree with. It really is insane. I thought the way Gov. Chris Christie praised Obama was very appropriate and classy. I have heard him say plenty to the contrary (with which I agree), but that was not the moment to do so again.
- disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
- a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
- a supporter of conservative political policies.
- a preservative.
- favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
- favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
- a person of liberal principles or views, especially in politics or religion.
- a member of a liberal party in politics
These are just a few definitions courtesy of dictionary.com. I’ve always had very simple definitions: Conservative – Great morals and values. To want what is right. Liberal – Mixed up morals. To want what is someone else’s.
I admit that these are pretty shallow definitions. As I read the definitions, I realize that I like change and I’m favorable to a person’s freedom. Furthermore, I like tradition but I am not exactly disposed to preserving existing conditions. I may have all this wrong (and I’m sure some conservatives will try to preserve me), but I see myself taking on a different mindset. Don’t get too happy either, Liberals. I’m not switching to your side of the room. I’m just not sure what word I want to label myself with anymore. So instead of one word, I’ll use a few.
I’m for what is right. I heard someone say that “rightness” is the extension of God’s character. If change will bring us to what is right, then I vote for change. If we have it right, then I’m all in for preservation. And it’s not either or. Some things should remain and some things should not. I think everyone that is truthful would agree with that, but I want to do this without predisposition or affiliation. I don’t want to assume someone is wrong because we’re not described with the same word. And I will not assume someone is right because we are. I want to love my neighbor and seek Truth. I want my pride to take a backseat to my character.
And just so you know (a little Milespeak right?) I have no problem with how you label yourself. This is not an attempt at a movement or call for a mind shift. It’s just my rant… out loud to myself. I have quieted my inner thoughts for too long.