In my last two posts, I’ve shared quotes/comments from the essay “The Essence of Conservatism” by conservative icon Russell Kirk. As previously noted, there are a number of additional explanations for and about the foundations of the conservative personality worth considering as well. Current events make clear that Kirk’s understandings are still as valid today as they were decades ago when first shared. [Quotes that follow are all from the referenced essay.]
The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century world into a terrestrial hell.
SOMETIMES COMPLEXITY IS THE ONLY CHOICE
While it may be consistent with the conservative mindset of avoiding complexities so as to arrive at prompt decisions, it’s foolish to paint with such a broad brush. That tendency is a too-frequent occurrence in today’s political debates [such as they are].
Ideologues no matter which way they lean can lead others down paths where possibilities for harm or disruption are likelier outcomes. That’s not open to much rational debate. So too any ideologues untempered by consideration of real-world facts, perspectives, and needs are not only failing to appropriately address concerns which must to be addressed, the unwillingness to tailor firm principles and values is ultimately pointless as regards policy-making.
Challenges of the day must be met by solutions which demonstrate both an understanding of the components as well as then implementing policies which actually meet the needs to be served. The comfort of an ideological bubble drifts too far above to be of meaningful significance. That’s not to say the beliefs and foundational principles cannot ever serve as guides, but a blanket and automatic reliance on traditions as the beginning and the end of problem-solving is of no greater value than outright dismissal of those same guiding tenets.
CHOICES ARE USUALLY MORE NUANCED
When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutions—why, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise.
They may be much superior, too….Besides, how else does progress take place? Waiting for guarantees first, guarantees waiting for guarantees first. Dismissive regard for current knowledge and wisdom gained in favor of sticking with what’s been done before is at best shortsighted.
On the broad scale of “revolutionaries,” there’s merit to Kirk’s observations. But categorizing change itself as the by-product of a revolutionary approach on the part of “radicals” seeking to address currents needs is yet another example of the Right’s too-broad a brush approach in addressing public concerns. Few things are all-or-nothing, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to the louder voices.
It’s also convenient to assess the changes sought as being part of some master plan to create an “Earthly Paradise.” That may be an ideal objective in an ideal world filled with only idealists, but here in the real-world, examining the issues of one problem or another and then working out effective ways to meet the needs is much less ambitious but a better use of our time and capabilities, so we prefer that approach instead.
The challenges we all face now and in the days to come rarely lend themselves to solution by checklist, for one thing. Therefore, making changes of any kind means the now-empty spaces much be filled with some new alternative of one kind or another. Welcome to how life works. Changing the way things are done means … well, changing the way things are done. No guarantees, but not changing isn’t doing much for us, either.
SIMPLE ANSWERS FOR COMPLEX PROBLEMS = LOSE-LOSE
While we recognize the inclinations and characteristics of personalities and ideologies Left and Right, the Right’s evident and frequent tendency to just offer blanket assertions and conclusions while ignoring the underlying reasons and perspectives isn’t anywhere close to being the most effective approach to problem-solving. We don’t burn down our neighbor’s home if a basement pipe is leaking because we’d prefer not examining the plumbing or making sure related conditions aren’t contributing to the leaks.
Considering the nuances and inquiring into a likely wide range of underlying concerns may be bothersome and discomforting, but ignoring them—particularly as to the usually complex issues of 21st Century politics and culture, with their potential for widespread impact—is more than just a preferred strategy.
It ultimately does more harm than good to problem-solve without understanding the problem! Quite the concept….
~ My Photo: Quebec City skyline – 09.17.09 ©
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
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As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone’s observation continues to hold far more truth and power than we give it credit:
We all do better when we all do better
Why make setting up inevitable and enduring conflict the primary objective of policy and planning?
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Life Will Answer – Thought-provoking inquiries & observations about how (and why) Life does … and does not, work for everyone. [Inspired by my book of the same name].