2015-09-11

Conservative - On a Personal Note

Always the labels!  But what do they really imply?  Conservative, Progressive, Liberal, Neo-Conservative, Neo-Liberal, Left-Winger, Right-Winger, etc... .

For about 30+ years I considered myself a middle of the road Republican for many reasons.  Some of those reasons were 'inherited' because I really did not take the time to think about the issues and simply followed along with those that I associated with(family, friends, work associates etc...).

Now that I have time to actually break down those reasons into component parts and think about them, as well as the time to actually consider other points of view, I have found reason (or many reasons) to disassociate myself from that long cherished label.  I am not, and probably never would have been a Republican (nor a Democrat for that matter).  I am however a conservative by my reckoning.

So what does it mean to be a Conservative? (To me, that is)

Start with the word 'conserve'.  To me that means maintain that which has value.  Also implied is the discarding of that which does not have value or which reduces value.  To maintain without discarding is the worst form of orthodoxy.  The result is a convoluted, tangled mess of rules which are abused to the advantage of a few and the dis-advantage of many.  To conserve, one needs to determine what is valuable, and to whom it brings value.  To do so, one has to decide what is valuable; And that is a tough proposition!

Why is determining value hard?
The tough part of determining value is that it requires one to 'decide'.  There is no formula to come up with a fixed definition of value.  The word itself implies that it refers to a quantitative and deterministic result of measurement.  But value is anything but either deterministic or quantitative unless working within the world of science.  The essence of value is subjective; we have to choose what is valuable.  What then is valuable to me?

It used to be that which:

  • Improved my lot and the lot of my family
  • Improved the lot of those in my community
  • Improved the lot of my country
  • Improved the lot of humanity
...in that descending order of priority.... and that remains the same to this day.  What has changed is that I now realize that I am inversely constrained by by each of those priorities.  The closer I get to that which improves that which I hold most valuable, the more constrained I find myself.  This is the source of my 'libertarian' streak.  I am strongly opposed to that which diminishes what I can do to bring value to myself and those most important to me.  The more rules there are at the lower two prioritized value measurements, the less I am able to do at the upper level priorities.  As a result, my focus has shifted from the upper priorities to the lower two.  I don't like constraint.  It diminishes value and therefor is anti-conservative.

This view however is not linear.  It does not work to attack the lower two in order to achieve the upper two.  Were it to be that life would be so simple!  We live in a world of each other, where the more value the 'one' gains, the more impact one has on others.  Conversely, the more value the community one lives has and brings to the table, the better one is able to achieve improvement of 
one's own lot.  It is a symbiosis of cause effect: And that implies balance.

So my definition of what it is to be conservative is no longer fixed, it is based now on the process of change.  At one time, it simply meant voting Republican.  I kid  you not.  It was that simple and that uninformed.  I assumed that my list of priorities had it's best chance by my taking the simple action of marking the ballot straight Republican.  I am not the least bit sheepish about this, why should I be?  In the face of today's bellicosity and ignorant analysis of domestic and foreign policy issues, I find most with whom I speak seem to have little information and are perfectly happy to sustain their political convictions on this diet so thin on facts and rich in surgery entertainment provided by the television.

To be conservative is to understand what is, to explore it, to think about it.  How can one conserve if one does not understand the nature of what it is they wish to conserve?  Most importantly, to be a conservative is to look forward.  To be able to determine those things which will continue to bring value, those new things which will replace that with diminishing value.  To be a conservative, one must change.  The old saying "the only thing that never changes is change itself" demands that conservatism is in fact progressive.  To deny that is to enter into the realm of orthodoxy, and therein lies the power of the dictatorship, of repression.  To conserve is to embrace change and know when to bring along those things from before which will maintain our ability to drive change ourselves, and accept and adapt to changes that are outside of our control.

It is a process, it is balance, it is change...
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