While traversing the internet this morning, I came across the following post by Cassandra at http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/.
A while back I was asked by a very lovely and intelligent lady to write an essay on conservatism.
I did quite a bit of research and was rather surprised by what I learned. Yes, I do have an opinion on this subject. But I hear so many people say, "He/She isn't a conservative" that I can't quite resist throwing the question back at you all: "OK. Exactly what IS a conservative? Define it for me."
So that's my challenge to you, whether you are a blogger or a reader. Define conservatism for me. Better yet, do it for yourself.
Have at it in the comments section. And if you are a blogger and want to post your reply, let me know and I'll post a roundup of responses.
Should be an interesting discussion.
So, how do I understand conservatism?
I think it is about personal responsibility. I know that is a big umbrella to start out with, however, I must go back to the understanding that the God who created this world, universe, and all living creatures, thought it pertinent to bestow on us, human critters, free will. We have the ability to do what we want to, but we also have an "owner's manual" that tells us what happens when we choose to live a certain way.
The human heart cries out for freedom. All across the history of mankind, we find those in bondage, crying out to be free. And all across this history, we find those whose whole purpose in life appears to be enslaving others, and having power over them to refuse them any opportunity to exercise their free will.
Involved in my idea of being free, is the ability to earn and hold private property. I grew up in the forties and fifties. I well remember watching "Victory at Sea" at the local theater, and watching the news items that showed how people over in Europe lived. I read the Declaration of Independence, and learn that the people most instrumental in beginning this country, left Europe to get away from onerous taxation, and overbearing government. I grew up with the story of Robin Hood...not the Robbing Hood we have today, of the government taxing every aspect of our lives, but the Robin Hood, who battled the oppressive government of the day, to take back what rightfully belonged to the people.
Since I graduated from high school, I have had the privilege to visit places like Seoul, Korea; Manilla and Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, Hong Kong, Guyana, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and parts of Guatemala. I have also had the privilege of being able to live in Quito, Ecuador for nine months. I have been able to see the lifestyle of people who do not have the freedom we have been inherently provided by God. I have watched children take off their clothes to go swimming, because it was the only pair of pants and shirt they owned. I have seen how people live because the government controls everything in the country.
Conservatism, means respecting each other's right to freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I have experienced some moments of hillarity, when I have read the billboards that say: "Respect me". Respect is a two way street, and I find it really hard to respect someone who does not respect me. The hard knocks of the school of life have taught me to give the benefit of the doubt to everyone I meet. I choose to respect every person I meet, or come in contact with; however, when someone disdains my respect, or uses it to gain power over me, I lose respect for them. Sometimes, I can understand the words of Linus from the Peanuts cartoon where he said, "I love humanity, it's people I can't stand.
I guess, respecting each other's right to freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness goes beyond "Live and let live". I believe that God created mankind to be in communion, with each other, and with Him. Being in communion with each other means lending a hand when needed; encouraging someone who is losing courage, helping to raise each other above the level we think we are only capable of reaching. I do not consider government taking hard earned money from earners, and giving it to non earners to be humanitarian. In fact I find it to be humiliating. Again, this goes back to individual responsibility.
Our collective consciousness shows us how beautiful life can be when we all work together, encourage each other, and strive to be the best we can be. I guess in a kind of a nutshell, that would be conservatism for me.