Pessimism and Liberalism

In a recent comment here on my blog, a reader insisted that he found at least some of my posts downright depressing, and more, that liberalism is essentially pessimistic.

I decline to try to refute his claim about myself; I leave that for others to judge. However, I reject his assertion regarding the core of liberalism.

The very thing that appeals to me about liberalism is that it is so optimistic. Liberals are optimistic that humanity doesn’t have to be as ugly as it is. We don’t have to tolerate war (with the atrocities which are virtually inevitable on all sides), violence, deprivation, squalor, intolerance, or oppression as acceptable and unavoidable conditions of society. We believe that through concerted effort—as individuals and as communities; through means secular and ecclesiastical; by efforts private and public—humanity can rise above its base nature and become truly magnificent. I find that liberalism appeals to the best in people.

But to do so, we cannot so casually accept things as they are. Conservatism all too often seems to accept and even embrace that natural man. Greed is good; war is necessary; crimes such as terrorism, assassination, and torture are legitimate—at least when we do them; poverty and deprivation are tough breaks—or the just desserts of a sinful nature. People are too evil to make proper sexual and religious choices on their own, so we must force them through governmental coercion, and we must harshly punish people who are “bad,” even unto death, to keep them from sinning again.

It sounds so base to me. And progress can never happen if we accept what is base and vulgar. For decades in the youth of our nation, the Southern planters insisted that slavery would dwindle out if left alone. Instead it continued to grow. It was only by direct challenge that the institution ended in the U.S. For decades following that, the white majority was all too willing to turn a blind eye to institutionalized racism. When organizers and reformers worked to rouse the public for change, they were told by many that they shouldn’t rock the boat so, that racial reform would come gradually if they just let the matter be. But reform didn’t come until increasing numbers of agitators raised the issue and forced America to confront its crimes. Whether you’re talking about women’s suffrage, the environmental movement, or even rights and liberty envisioned by Thomas Paine, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, et al; its all the same. Change doesn’t come until people stand up for change, make their voices heard, pointing out flaws and injustices of the situation until enough people rally around to make the change happen.

The same pattern occurs within the Gospel. Many might call Isaiah despairing. Ezekial might well be considered depressing. And President Kimball, in his 1976 address “The False Gods We Worship,” might well be thought pessimistic about the U.S. A more mature perspective instead that he recognized frailties, shortcomings, and misperceptions that needed to addressed so that they could be corrected.

Maybe I’m too much an idealist (another accusation frequently hurled at the liberal). So be it. I find the Gospel to be idealistic. If we aren’t striving for more as individuals and as a community, continually acknowledging and improving upon our faults, we’ll never accomplish anything meaningful. But if we’re willing to change our perceptions and challenge conventional wisdom about what is possible, miracles may blossom around us.

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32 Responses to “Pessimism and Liberalism”

  1. Obi wan liberali Says:

    Being a liberal in Utah would make anyone pessimistic. However, it also makes one resilient.

  2. Aaron Orgill Says:

    That reader you mentioned would be me. Thanks for addressing it. I only find liberalism pessimistic in that rarely do you guys recognize the overwhelming good in this country and try to build on that. It may not even be what you believe, but what comes out is often heard as “everything sucks in this country.

  3. jennifer Says:

    Aaron – I think you bring up a good point. Often the criticism of leaders or government is interpreted as hating the nation, or unpatriotic…. But I see our nation made up of fantastic people with fantastic futures and fantastic potential. I get angry at the wholesale deceit, corruption, exploitation, corporatization, and the like – those actions tend to negate so much that is right and beautiful in our country.
    As an example, I recall enormous goodwill after 9-11, both within the country and from other people around the world. I believe that bad foreign policy and bad economic policy ruined all of that. It had little to do with individual citizens qualities.

  4. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Furthermore, you continue to assume the worst about those who don’t agree with you. In order, one by one :you might get some corporate types who would be so brazen to say “greed is good,” but I think most people with a gospel perspective would say that capitalism is flawed but superior to any other system out there, and promoting a state-run law of consecration is a recipe for disaster. War IS sometimes necessary, although that certainly isn’t the case in Iraq. Poverty and deprivation are not just tough breaks, and I staunchly rebuked one of your readers the other day who suggested that it was “sinful” for someone to receive something he hadn’t worked for. We just need to be sure with all our giving that we include education to give people the hope and skills they need to rely on themselves, instead of perpetuating a lifetime of dependence. The next one is almost too ridiculous to mention: “people are too evil to make proper sexual and religious choices on their own”? What country do you live in? When was the last time the government tried to stop two men from having sex, or promoted any specific religion? That really doesn’t deserve a response, except to say that it’s ironic that you, who want to make it mandatory to give to the poor because people are too evil to be generous, are actually using these examples, which happen to be two areas that the government actually stays out of! Lastly, “we must harshly punish people unto death to keep them from sinning again”? Sorry if you can’t handle it, but everything in the Book of Mormon tends to be in favor of a death penalty. Now, do you want to apply it LIBERALLY? No, I’d say extend as much mercy as is warranted, but as a believer you should realize there are far worse things than death. And your usage of the word “harshly” is questionable at best. A speedy exit into the next life is quite merciful given some of the crimes that have been committed. A conversation about the merits (or lack thereof) of our current justice system could take ages, and I won’t get into here, because in this case, I would probably be very liberal in the sense that I don’t find much to praise about it.

    I haven’t said anything about not rocking the boat. Go for it. Make change happen. Where there is injustice, cry foul to your heart’s content. But pick your spots and try to be a little sunnier, and you’ll find yourself getting more attention and more people willing to join the cause.

  5. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Jennifer, I’m glad you’re on here. We had our sacrament meeting yesterday (that you asked to hear about), and it went well. The first girl didn’t even use the scripture I assigned to her, but it did feel like there was a lot less condemning of the poor than might otherwise have happened.

    About your comment, that has been my point all along. I don’t believe that liberals “hate the country” or are “unpatriotic,” just that they bring it on themselves when they talk so despairingly about everything and fail to recognize anything that’s going right. The world only exists in the language we use to describe it, and if more people used the language you are, we could get much more accomplished. That was what drew people to Ronald Reagan. He was able to see the good after the really dark time of the 1970s. And yes, Bush squandered an opportunity to create some unity and goodwill. So far, Obama is the only one I’ve seen who might be able to bring that back. I like Romney well enough, but I can’t see a Republican winning the election after Bush. I don’t know about bad economic policy, as the country is in pretty good shape that way right now.

  6. Frank Staheli Says:

    Jennifer,

    What I see mostly is a liberal pessimism convinced that it is correct and that its mind will never be changed, regardless of what else might happen. I know there are conservatives who are this way as well, but usually conservatives are firmly convinced that life is good while liberals are firmly convinced that the Iraq war will never amount to anything good, that earth will become a fireball in the next 50-100 years, and that people can’t take care of themselves, and thus more government is the solution to the problems that more government created in the first place.

    In short, I suggest that conservatives and liberals alike make more of an attempt to see each others’ points of view rather than being so sure that they have a corner on the truth market.

  7. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Aaron, there have been a great many instances in which conservative groups have attempted to use the government force their sexual and religious agenda (the attempted a sodomy ban in Texas, the Marriage Amendments at state and national levels, school prayer, “intelligent design,” requiring the Pledge of Allegiance (and the addition of “God” to the pledge in the fifties), Judge Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments idol, the Religious Right’s conniption over a Hindu praying to open Congress, et al ad nauseum.

    You misinterpreted me on the death penalty. I wrote that entire paragraph in the persona of conservatism, and thus was talking about the conservative support of the death penalty, not my own.

    All of the words I mentioned were positions which I’ve heard from numerous conservatives at both a national and local level (including the exact words “greed is good”). That is great if they do not describe your positions, but they do indeed describe positions of many on the Right.

    Frank, I believe you are seriously mischaracterizing the liberal position, but that’s your prerogative. I’m sure you or others feel I’m mischaracterizing the conservative. In any case, regarding the attempt to see the other’s point of view, I heartily agree. In fact, it is as a conservative that I tried to honestly understand the liberal point of view—and subsequently found that it was far more accurate than that of the right which I’d always followed.

  8. Derek Staffanson Says:

    BTW, yes, you’re right, Reagan did make people feel better about the nation. So did the Pharisees and religious leaders who benefited from the corruption of the Jewish community. Ezekial, on the other hand, was a real downer. But I’ll rather pursue being good over feeling good any day.

  9. Frank Staheli Says:

    Derek,

    I actually agree with you that liberalism is accurate in many ways. There are some excellent points of view that liberals hold, and that I find personally very enlightening. I’ve written, for example, about how much I appreciate Barack Obama.

  10. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Good, we agree then. Yes, there are always right-wing wackos who attempt to enforce their personal views. But usually bad politics gets shot down quickly. And in the case of the sodomy ban, it was so ridiculously unenforceable and unconstitutional that it would have never become a serious threat. And no, those opinions are far from being my own. I think you and I are both guys just trying to be as GOOD as we can be, and I’ve hoped you would be able to see that I’m not really in the mainstream here, any more than you are. I have been called liberal on more than one occasion, and I’m not ashamed of it, but just feel that both sides go too far.

    About Reagan, I don’t know that it’s fair to compare him to the Pharisees. He embraced capitalism, but I continue to challenge you to come up with a system that works better in the present time.

    I find it interesting that you are a former conservative. Is there anywhere I can go to find more about you, and particularly hearing more of your “conversion” to liberalism? Do you believe in limits on government and its efficacy in things like redistribution of wealth? I’m interested in knowing some fairly personal things, like your age, profession, and other background information that fully fleshes you out. I myself am almost 28, married with two little boys, and starting my own business, a bartering exchange, and am a very proud small-l libertarian. Whatreally inspires me is kindness and generosity to others. I hope I can make it big (and believe wholeheartedly in my right to pursue that), and that I can give my own money away of my own free will, very liberally, to various needy people and organizations, and make the world happier, and become as godly as I can, and be with my family forever.

  11. Derek Staffanson Says:

    More detail on my economic thoughts is among the (many) things on which I plan to post in the future. For now, suffice it to say that I believe the problem is not so much capitalism or free market theory (there is some question whether the two are actually the same) per se, but in “free market idolatry,” also called “free market fundamentalism.” I do not believe economy must be a binary, “either-or” proposition; that the best economic system weds the best aspects of capitalism with some mitigating aspects of socialism (more specifically communitarianism or syndicalist-anarchy; but since few people know those concepts, “socialism” describes it well enough). More than that I will save for a fully fleshed out post.

    I really don’t see how the “Hey, ain’t we great!” attitude Reagan deliberately cultivated is much different than the Roman-era Pharisees, Israel just before the Babylonian Captivity, the Zoramites, or the Nephites just prior to Christ’s coming. But I’ll address it more in the future (what part I haven’t already addressed in “Reflections on Patriotism.”

    I try not to give too much personal detail here on my blog, as I’m trying to use a little caution regarding privacy and internet snoopes/cyberstalking. Maybe sometime I’ll post more detail on the story of my conversion, but I’ve no plans for it. I’ve probably shared quite a bit on the various LDS left-liberal-progressive-etc Yahoo groups on which I used to be active. All I’m willing to share at this time is that I’m in my thirties, work as a librarian and graphic designer, married, and was raised along the Wasatch Front in the Church in a large, pretty reflexively (by that I mean few have really put much thought or examination into their ideology, they just agree with some of the soundbites and go with the crowd) conservative family.

  12. greenjennib Says:

    I saw a lot of negativity from the right during the Clinton years — and there wasn’t that much to be negative about in those days if you were a conservative — Clinton was a moderate-to-right Dem. Makes me wonder how negative they’d get if a real lefty like Kucinich was in office. Even as bad as Clinton was, I’d be a whole lot happier with him in office than GWB.

    There is a lot of negativity on the left currently. It’s depressing to see over 600,000 people slaughtered in your name. It’s a downer to watch the constitution being shredded. It’s not a whole lot of fun to have to re-“fight” the battles against racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. I’m not especially happy that my children might have a difficult time surviving on planet going through a climate crisis. I’m a bit peeved that the rights of corporations trump the rights of the people. Knowing that I can’t ever get sick (even with insurance) doesn’t make be jump for joy.

    I am able to see the positive as well, though. Women are getting closer to being considered equal to men — and I see a lot of men evolving and getting in touch with their nurturing side. In another generation or so, I think that my gay friends will have the same civil rights that I now enjoy. For the time being (until I’m declared an enemy combatant) I still have most of my freedoms, if not privacy from our corrupt government. I have my health for the time being and hopefully (knock on wood) for many years to come.

    I’m feel positive when I’m actually doing something to make the world a better place, but it doesn’t cause the rose color to decend over my eyes when it comes to the bad things that people (mostly politicians and corporations) are doing.

    When I experience negativity, I can usually trace it back to knowing what we should be and could be doing as a nation. We aren’t living up to our potential, and in fact are causing great harm and pain to many. I would love to see our country truly live by its principles.

  13. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Very well put, Jenni. Bravo.

  14. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Thanks for sharing. I understand the need to be cautious. I think there is a happy medium to seek with patriotism. We don’t have to be cheerleaders for everything we’re doing, and arrogantly act as if we’re above everyone else, but we don’t have to act as if nothing’s going right, either. I suppose we’ll just never agree on this. To me, you don’t have to be one or the other. I don’t think I’m mindlessly cheering on idolatry of any kind. I am not going to support socialism, and there is no way you can tell me that to do so is scriptural. It is not your right to take away other people’s money. Be generous with what you have earned, and you’ll remain spotless before God. I worked in government and saw firsthand how inefficient it is. I will look forward to your commentary on the libertarian critique of social justice.

    Greenjennib, I’m not sure where you get some of your figures. Where are 600,000 people being slaughtered in your name? The Iraq War (which I am not a fan of) has not claimed anywhere near that. You are not being required to re-fight the battles against racism and sexism. You make it sound as if Republicans want to reinstitute slavery and keep females in the kitchen and take away your right to vote. And I’m not sure what civil rights your gay friends lack. I will say it is a great wrong when a lifelong partner is not allowed to make decisions, so if that is what you mean, I’m with you. Gay marriage, I don’t know about. But I assume you don’t know of anyone being deprived of the right to vote, or anything like that? And I share your concern for health care, but aren’t you being a bit of a drama queen to say you can’t ever get sick, even with insurance? What has your corrupt government done to intrude on your privacy?

    You are right that we’re not living up to our potential. Such will be the case as long as we are allowed our freedom to choose. But the conundrum is that our highest potential is to use that freedom to choose to take care of the human family. But if you take away choice, you take away the potential for greatness. I make no assumptions about your religious persuasion, but whatever it is, if you value freedom, as I do, it is a major mistake to get too far left (or too far right). As frustrating as the two-party system is, it goes a long way in providing checks and balances on both religious wingnuts and communist hippies.

  15. jennifer Says:

    That lost potential is what irks me too.

    Aaron, please explain what you mean by “freedom” because there could be several connotations in this discussion. (referring to your last paragraph). Freedom of worship? Freedom in trade? Freedom in education? Freedom from discrimination? Freedom of the press? Freedom from fraud/exploitation? Freedom from taxation? etc. etc. please be more specific.

  16. Aaron Orgill Says:

    This might sound like a cop-out, but I mean freedom, period. I didn’t realize it until a couple of years ago, but I am pretty close to libertarian on most issues. The more I read and learned the more I came to believe that men should be free to the greatest extent possible, provided they grant the same liberty to other people. Government intervention is only appropriate when there is an adverse effect on other people. Now, clearly that creates a problem, because no two people will agree 100 percent on what is harmful and what’s not, and there is no official “canon” of libertarian beliefs (which seems appropriate, given that the whole theory rejects large concentration of manmade “authority”). The war and the abortion issue are two of the most divisive issues among libertarians. I myself consider abortion and recreational drug use to be harmful to society, although I allow for some exceptions (such as when there has been rape or incest causing pregnancy, or the mother’s life is at risk), and concede that at this point, many of our drug laws are unenforceable, and the use of milder drugs are not among my highest concerns so long as they are used in controlled environments and you don’t take away some kid’s right to life because you drive recklessly under the influence.

    Some of the freedoms you mentioned simply don’t exist. There is no such thing as freedom from discrimination, for instance. I am formulating an opinion of you right now, and in the future what you have already said in this blog may be used for or against you when you apply for a job. You can’t stop the hate groups who protest at homosexuals’ funerals from being bigoted, immoral racist assholes. The time will come when they will be judged, and most of society has already marginalized them to the point that they’re considered fringe wackos. If I want to go to Duke Law School, and I have a 2.0 GPA, my freedom of education is limited. Our choices today will limit or widen our freedoms tomorrow.

    Society has built a consensus in many areas. I don’t believe I have a right to rape you, to steal your money, or shoot your dog. Just to live my life with as little interference as possible from a highly fallible government. I too have great hope for the human race, but really, if we’re talking in a gospel sense, we have to do all we can do to attain godliness. If you get to a point that you and your circle live the law of consecration, that is to be commended. But it loses all its power the minute you bring your nonbelieving neighbor in against his will. Anyway, that is a long answer, but there are some freedoms you can enforce and some you can’t, and that is exactly as it should be.

  17. Derek Staffanson Says:

    No, Aaron, we don’t really disagree on the fact that we can recognize the good. I said as much in my blog piece on patriotism. I suppose that the difference is that I believe that to think, despite the facts, that our nation is somehow markedly superior in character than most other nations is naive at best. We as a nation are very far from living up to the principles we espouse. Jenni and Jennifer, you are right to be saddened by that failure. And in a culture is so willing to pat itself on the back and rationalize its faults, I find it that much more crucial to point out cause for humility—if we don’t humble ourselves, someone else will do it for us.

    If you look into the matter, Aaron, you will see that Jenni is right; experts estimate that 600,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of the occupation of Iraq. “Only” a few thousand U.S. citizens have died, but Iraqis are no less important than U.S. Americans, and a good portion have been killed by our troops (ie, in our name).

    The two-party system can be said to provide checks and balances on the extremes; it can also be said to lock us into a false moderation which avoids any exploration of the integrity of the system or truth outside the mainstream.

    I believe you misunderstand Jennifer’s talk of freedom. For example, there are consequences for our choices and mistakes. But there are also consequences of our socio-economic status which, by no choice or action of our own, prevent us from a quality education (for example, children attending poorly-funded and thus typically poor quality inner city schools). A case can be made, as Thomas Jefferson did, that we ought to consider a quality education a right to all citizens/residents.

  18. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Okay then, good, I’m glad you recognize the good. I still think you focus way too much on the misery. Lest you lecture me about how bad some people have it and that misery is their reality, I didn’t say deny it and ignore the poor, just to do it with a cheerful heart instead of burning all this negative energy which makes absolutely no difference and makes no one’s life better.

    Sorry, you’re just not going to get away with the number 600,000. Last November, the Iraqi health minister estimated the number somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000. Iraq Body Count puts the number much lower, somewhere between 69,000 and 75,000. It’s still a terrible waste of life, but this is what I’m talking about, no news is bad enough that liberals won’t make it worse.

    I agree we want to look for truth and not settle for moderation, but that is best done by individuals. For example, what you have embraced as true doesn’t necessarily make it so, and you can’t call your own interpretation the “truth” any more than some far-right literalist who believes the Bible is infallible.

    I probably did misunderstand what Jennifer said, and I hope I didn’t alienate her with my long-winded answer. She seems like a very sweet girl. I would love to see the education system revamped so that kids in Watts and South Philly have as good a chance as we can give them to succeed. But there is no way we can make the playing field equal on all counts. Most of those kids have major trouble at home, and no amount of money is going to fix that. All we can do is provide a good education and see to it that no American child starves, and encourage private citizens to give their time to those who urgently need an adult to take interest, whether that’s by tutoring them, inviting them to a hot meal, or taking them to a basketball game. And yes, it would probably be appropriate to use government funds for after-school programs in areas where churches and charities can’t cover everything.

  19. Derek Staffanson Says:

    The Lancet published a peer reviewed study regarding Iraqi mortality both directly and indirectly caused by the war and occupation, putting the death toll at 654,965. Yes, the report is challenged by the administration and their Iraqi government. Surprise, surprise, the people who sponsored the war and their patrons are underreporting the casualties. Note that the U.K, which initially also questioned the results, have been advised by their experts that “the survey’s methods were ‘close to best practice’ and the study design was ‘robust.’

    Strange that you, who implied liberalism could lead to the acceptance of pedophilia and that liberals were the cause of an explosion in fornication during the ’60s, would accuse liberals of exaggeration to make things seem worse. Pot and kettle, eh?

    No, it isn’t liberal hyperbole or pessimism. Jenni and I are only going off the information we have, whether on U.S. current and historical military decisions, Iraqi death count, or anything else.

  20. Ben Says:

    Re: capitalism is flawed but superior to any other system out there

    I would strongly disagree. I think pure capitalism works about as well as pure communism – that is to say, it’s a huge disaster. Thankfully, we’re not FULLY capitalist in the US – we have embraced some socialist principals. The social democratic systems in Europe seem to work better than our system. A nice, even mix of socialism and capitalism seems the right path in an imperfect world. Too much of either just doesn’t seem to work well.

  21. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I could be wrong about the numbers. However, so could you. Iraq Body Count is the furthest thing from a war sponsor that there could be. In fact, it is kept up by some highly qualified and VERY anti-war academics in England. But, of course, as a liberal, you want to believe the very worst. I will not allow you to accuse me of just accepting the establishment’s numbers. I have no attachment to any number either way. I didn’t like the war from the very start, and now just hope for the best possible outcome, as opposed to you, who prefer to bitch about how bad it is and there’s no hope for anyone. Good Lord, how depressing life must be for you.

    I’m also not going to let you misrepresent me on the pedophile thing. I agreed with you that it would probably be an extreme libertarian to take that position first, but given how the left loves to embrace all sorts of things as alternative lifestyles, it’s only a manner of time before that’s another. I mentioned several times that I was not accusing you or anyone in the mainstream left of taking that position. I just get fed up with how accepting you think you have to be of everything. You’re only interested in calling a spade a spade when it has to do with socioeconomic justice. Forget about what the Brethren themselves are talking about. You can’t accept that people make their own choices and that perhaps part of the reason sexuality and other conservative mores are emphasized so much is that those lifestyles will lead to less crime, less poverty, and happier families, and you wouldn’t have to spend so much time agonizing about it.

    I am not just implying that the left caused an explosion in fornication in the 1960s, I am flat-out saying it. You blamed the right, as is your habit. I’ll give you that it was pretty puritanical, but your claim that it caused their children to experiment is just idiotic. “I’m really fed up with my parents telling me I can’t have sex, so I’m going to do it, with as many people as I can, and do drugs on top of that just to piss my parents off. Oh, shit, I’m pregnant! And I have six STDs! And my brain is fried! Why didn’t anyone tell me? Oh, wait, someone did, but it was just my stupid parents. What do they know?” There’s no wisdom in being careful with sex at all, is there? No matter how clumsy and stupid their techniques were, the establishment was just trying to look out for their kids. It seems to me a true liberal would try to understand where everyone is coming from, even conservatives.

  22. greenjenni Says:

    Iraq Body count only counts deaths reported in the media. The Lancet study was based on door to door (house to house) data gathering in Iraq.

    As for re-fighting the battle of sexism — one small and recent example — we only have to look to our legislature each Jan through March. The majority Republican legislature won’t require insurance to cover birth control (while same insurance covers Viagra), wants te restrict sex education and then wants to criminilze abortion — even to the point of charging a women who has an abortion with murder (that was Rep. Paul Ray this past winter). May not be directly telling women to stay home barefoot and pregnant, but is certainly doing a good job of eliminating the alternatives. Oh wait, I forgot that you should only have sex if you want kids. My bad. Pesky sex drive — sex is for babies!

  23. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Jenni, my sympathies. If you’re talking about the Utah State Legislature, I try to block as much of that out as I can. I was speaking more on the national front, where women seem to be doing pretty well. You still don’t get paid the same for the same job, but there is clearly a lot to cheer about. Utah is its own animal, and people like Chris Buttars and, well, just about everyone else, give off the vibe that the LDS population is homogeneous, which simply isn’t true. But I don’t blame you for thinking so.

    I’ve had some experience paying dearly for birth control. After the birth of our first child, we were shocked to receive a $700 bill in the mail for a tiny little contraceptive device that my wife had “installed” a few weeks after the delivery, not covered by our insurance. And I was crushed in my fight to overturn it.

    Despite my major disagreements with Derek, I despise the far right. And, I’m not afraid to say, the far left. No one even makes an attempt to understand each other. And I’m sick of it. God bless you in making a difference.

  24. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I am not misrepresenting you. I am referring to exactly what you did in your statements.

    You err if you believe chastity is a conservative value, or that licentiousness is a liberal one.

    I believe you also err if you believe that there wasn’t a great deal of fornication and infidelity prior to “the sexual revolution.” All the revolution did is bring it out into the open, which, as I’ve said before, is at least more honest than the hypocritical double standard from the time prior.

    I do understand Conservatives. Raised as one by them, was one, saw the fundamentally, regardless of how well-meaning, the way they view the world is fundamentally wrong.

    Nothing about the theology and the principles of the Gospel in any way counter liberalism. I do listen to our leaders, and their words only confirm my beliefs.

    No doubt, I could be wrong on both facts and conclusions. But until such time as I see sound reason to believe otherwise, I’ll stick with it.

  25. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Sounds good. You do misinterpret me, often, and I probably do the same thing to you. I never said the world was a bucolic little Norman Rockwell painting, where no one ever lied, cheated, or fornicated. I just believe it was made worse during the 1960s, and I’m not sure how that, along with what came after, can be seen as anything but a tragedy, and you are ridiculous for suggesting it was society that drove them to it. Yes, the revolution was at least honest about what they were doing, and that’s refreshing, but it doesn’t make it right.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree, and that’s okay. You have made me reconsider charity as something that deserves more emphasis, and perhaps I’ve caused you to at least consider some ways you can be more effective with your message. And I stick with the idea that if some of those conservative values were implemented and lived, it would do a great deal to change the big picture. We’re both doing our best to draw righteous conclusions about how to live, and as long as your heart is open, I don’t think you’re on your way to eternal damnation, merely that you’re wrong in some of your opinions. God bless.

  26. greenjenni Says:

    On the national front women are gaining ground — and I did put something to that effect in my first comment as one of the good things. But I believe we mostly have the liberals to thank for that, as we’ve had to fight the conservatives for every inch we’ve gained.

    The birth control/sex ed/abortion issue is heating up nationally, mostly along liberal/conservative lines. This is a major issue for women’s equality, and we are having to refight this battle over and over.

    I do have some understanding of the conservative viewpoint. I was raised by conservatives, belonged to a conservative religion, was even a conservative until about age 20 or so (I voted Republican in my first presidential election). I’ve lived in a conservative state for my whole life.

    My liberal leanings have come from many places: I was born with the desire for the equality for all people (regardless of sex, race, etc – sexual orientation came later) and an intense interest in protecting the planet (this came up in many ways as a child). It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood that these values that were a part of my life since I could remember were most in line with a liberal ideology.

    Life experience has also shaped my political leanings, as did my education. There are some values that the conservatives hold that I can respect. But I find that I am an idealist in many ways and I know that the human race is capable of doing amazing things if we can just get past greed and selfishness.

  27. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Very good. I have no beef with anything you’ve said. I just find that my strongest belief is that people can’t be coerced into being kind, generous, etc., and that government is accountable to no one and therefore cannot be trusted as the means to do much, and I prefer to keep their role as small as possible. I worked for the state for a short time and am disgusted every time I think about the inefficiencies I witnessed, and the pork that accompanies almost every major bill in Congress.

    You are right, the Republicans haven’t done much to help those without a voice for a long while. You pretty much have to go back to Lincoln, and really, he wasn’t so terribly concerned with slavery as he was with preserving the Union. But I find that outside the corporate juggernaut, which cares for no one, most conservative-leaning people are generous and open-minded. You do not have to give up being idealistic to be Republican, libertarian, or just about anything.

  28. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Ben, that’s a keen observation, and another one I plan to address more fully in the future.

  29. greenjenni Says:

    Aaron, This is probably a dead thread — but I noticed that you wrote, “You do not have to give up being idealistic to be Republican, libertarian, or just about anything.” and just wondered if I gave the impression of being a Democrat since you left that out. I’m not. I find that while there are many good people who consider themselves Democrat – the party itself has sold it’s soul to the same corporate interests that the Republicans have. I was a Green for a few years but had enough of the infighting, so now I consider myself a progressive/liberal independent.

    I will agree that you can find good people in each group. I do find that those who are willing to walk the talk (and do the most work) of social justice, equality, and environmental stewardship and most of the values I think are most important tend to gravitate towards liberal politics.

    I’ll use equality of the sexes as an example, since that issue is on mind a lot lately. I find the most noticible differences at large social gatherings. At extended family gatherings, where most of my relatives are conservative, I find that the women are doing most of the parenting duites while the men shoot the breeze, play or watch sports, etc. At many of the social gatherings that have a more liberal attendance, I find a large percentage fathers wearing their newborns in slings, strollering their toddlers, taking care of their children’s needs and wants. I realize that this is an anecdotal example, but it makes me wonder if what I’ve observed is more widespread than my personal experience. I know that there are those that believe in equality in every party, but as a feminist I’m more drawn to those who put those qualities into action in their everyday lives.

  30. Aaron Orgill Says:

    No, Jenni, I didn’t leave Democrat out because of you. I was just saying, you can belong to any party and be a good solid person with your own ideals. I actually figured from most of your postings that you were a Green (and from your moniker greenjennib). This does seem to be a nearly dead thread, but luckily I clicked on it to check out some of my recent arguments and saw your comment.

    Guilty on the social gatherings. I do often let my wife look after our two boys, although I don’t consider myself a conservative. I’m certainly to the right of most of you on this blog, but I think my ideology is more libertarian/moderate, probably slanting right. My family and my wife’s definitely are conservative. I don’t hang out with a lot of heavily liberal crowds, so I wouldn’t know what it’s like there. But it stands to reason, and I should be more helpful instead of sitting around like a slug watching football. But it will be hard to do, knowing I could get away with it if I wanted. I do have to say I’m light-years away from my father-in-law. He’s a very loving man, and works hard for his family, but I’ve never seen him cook a meal (aside from the occasional barbecue), do dishes, laundry, houseclean, or any of the other “wifely” duties, and it’s really bothered me at times.

    As far as the Greens go, good for you for walking away. I don’t know anything about the infighting, but I do know the only practical way to make a difference is from within the major parties. You don’t have to give up your beliefs. You can easily see many categories within both. Southern Democrat, Evangelical Republican wacko (oops, did I write that?), New England liberal, etc. I think people who vote for some third-party candidate “on principle” and think they’re actually making a difference are fools.

  31. jared Says:

    wow if a liberal wants to be depressed move to Idaho and you’ll find that maybe just maybe Utah isn’t that bad to live in.

  32. andrewsmiracledrug Says:

    I know I’m stumbling on to this post about 2 months later than everyone else, but I found it to be a pretty good distillation of why liberalism is essentially an optimistic ideology.
    Conservatives too often seem to be of the Hobbesian worldview that life is nasty, brutish, and short.
    Liberals, while acknowledging that life can certainly be those things, also believe that we can improve our collective lot by working together. At least this is how I think of the basis of liberal thought.
    Anyway, just wanted to drop by and thank you for the post.

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