Monday, April 05, 2010

I'm trying. What's your excuse?

A good way to test the integrity of political beliefs is to ask, “How much sacrifice is involved?”

The way I see it, your beliefs - political or moral - should compel you to be better. Even if you aren’t perfect - and who is? - you should at least strive to be the best person you can be.

I’ll admit that my life is not 100 percent in sync with my views.

I’m a proponent of a healthy and ethical diet, but my choices of groceries and stores don’t always reflect that.

English is my first language and French is a distant second. I know very little Spanish, even though I feel like all Americans should learn it in this global society.

I drive my car, run by fossil fuels. Even though it is a relatively cheap and efficient car, I’m still releasing pollutants every time I drive it (and I’m usually alone when I do). I want clean transportation, but I can’t always choose it.

I recycle, but I still throw away a lot of trash. I’m always looking for ways to cut down on garbage, but I’m limited by what facilities recycle in my area.

I use energy-efficient light bulbs and turn out the lights whenever I leave a room, but my utility usage is still higher than I want it to be. Missouri winters leave you no choice but to use your heater six months out of the year, and sometimes background noise in the form of the TV or stereo is soothing.

When shopping, I use as few bags as I can, sometimes to the point of absurdity; it is a very common sight to see me juggling eight packages as I open my apartment door with my teeth. Still, I have an entire kitchen closet full of plastic and paper bags.

The point is, I try to make choices in my life that make a difference, however small. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes I outright get picked on for it. But I press on anyway, because I’m always trying to be a better, prudent and thoughtful person. And I have the utmost respect for anyone who lives their life with the same objective.

I’m often asked why I’m so harsh on modern conservatism, particularly the far-right, tea party faction. Plenty of reasons abound, but most can be distilled into a single point:

The right is not about improvement, but about rationalization.

There are no inconvenient truths in the tea party. The closest thing they have to a genuine bugaboo is terrorism, and even that fits right in with their lust for kickin’ ass.

Everything else they stand for just happens to jibe perfectly with their views:

They oppose taxes because they’re greedy, and/or because they really think “millions on welfare are depending on you.”

They vigorously deny global warming, because they don’t want to feel guilty about driving a Hummer.

They want to make English the official language because they can’t be bothered to learn any foreign tongue.

They’re nostalgic for an era when things were simpler and people knew their place, because they envision themselves at the top of that pecking order.

They define freedom as the right to smoke and carry guns absolutely anywhere, and to not have health insurance. Also, the right to shirk responsibility over the social contract whenever convenient.

They want to “take our country back” because they feel like it’s theirs and theirs alone.

I can see why conservatism, particularly the more hard-line variety now in vogue, seems attractive to people. Most Americans are struggling and are rife with genuine anger, and don’t know where to direct it. And it’s reassuring to hear Republican politicians and TV pundits say that you’re fine and that it’s The Others who need to change. It’s comforting to adopt a set of principles that don’t challenge your ways in the slightest.

It’s no accident that religious fanaticism thrives here.

David Koresh and Warren Jeffs often said that God commanded them to marry and multiply with numerous, and increasingly younger, women. Do you think either of them ever said, “But why, God? I want to follow your word, but that doesn’t seem right”? Or is it possible that they just liked screwing underage girls?

Similarly, going to war didn’t seem like such a burden on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney; Sarah Palin didn’t have much to lose by quitting the governorship of Alaska and hogging the spotlight; the various right-wing militias don’t seem too eager to avoid confrontation; and Orly Taitz is clearly risking her reputation to get the TRUTH out about President Obama.

Where is the introspection? The dissent? The sacrifice? I’m not seeing it. You know what else I don’t see? Integrity. I only see a convenient self-centeredness. That’s the truth. And the truth hurts.

1 comment:

NOLA Progressive said...

Extremely well put. People I love and have respect for and inconveniently are "Conservatives" always say "I'm sick of not getting all the things that my money is paying for. I want WIC, I want Pell Grants, I want Food Stamps" etc...

It's not enough about them, and while I sympathize with them, especially as it pertains to how often the system is gamed, self-sacrifice and integrity doesn't really play into it at all.

Kudos on an extremely well thought out perspective look.