Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hope and Fear 

The Liberal Avenger makes a really good point about conservatism and fear -- Michelle Malkin and company are booga-boogaing an unfounded rumor about a missile being fired at an American commercial airliner. Trouble is, t'weren't no missile, t'weren't no attack.

But -- this little anecdote points up the difference between conservatives and liberals, big time. It's this simple: conservative politics are based in fear; liberal politics in hope. Conservative thinkers are deathly afraid that someone is going to come along sometime and take away all their stuff. Liberal thinkers hope that someone is going to come along sometime and figure out how to make sure everyone has enough stuff.

Conservatives always have to have a human enemy: Free-Thinkers, Anarchists, suffragettes, Communists, Negroes, Mexicans, A-rabs, homosexuals, terrorists, liberals. Liberals have enemies too, but they're abstract concepts: poverty, hunger, war, hatred, prejudice, fear, conservatism.

I don't know what leads a person to choose one side or the other. Maybe it's nature. Maybe it's nurture. All I know is that, among people I grew up with, in the same area with similar backgrounds, we have conservative adults and we have liberal adults. And yet, I'd have to say that my parents' politics were very conservative. When I was growing up as a kid, in the wake of the end of the debacle that was Viet Nam, they were always saying things like, "McCarthy was right. We should have shot all the Communists." (That's pretty much a direct quote.) And, sadly, until the day he died, my father never really trusted "Mexicans" -- which tended to include Columbians, Guatemalans, Fillipinos and anyone who was brown but not obviously Asian. Although, hangover from WWII, he didn't trust the Japanese either. Despite having a Japanese gardener, a Mexican maid and being surrounded my Fillipino nurses in his dying days.

So, if it were genetic, I should be as conservative as hell. Now, both my parents grew up relatively poor and reached the middle class. I grew up in either the top end of the middle class or the very low end of the upper-middle class. But so did a lot of people with whom I went to college, and I knew a lot of Young Republican types back then.

Anyway, I don't know what leads to the difference, but I know which philosophy is the healthier outlook on life. I don't sit around in abject fear that some minority is going to take my job or terrorists are going to blow up my neighborhood or the government is going to tax me to death or a black man will marry my daughter. (Well, okay, I don't have a daughter, but if I did, I wouldn't care what race her husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend was.)

I do hope that science will prevail over superstition and that research and stem cells and cloning will help eradicate many of the things that kill us. I do hope that we can create an educational system that will actually educate children, in the sciences and art and history and matters biological. I hope that the Constitution will prevail, that the First Amendment will someday actually be enforced when it comes to religion and government. I hope that we make it into space in a big way, and soon, and do for our solar system and galaxy what Europe did for the New World, except without killing or converting any lifeforms we find along the way. I hope that, some day, we eliminate the need for war, imperialism and terrorism.

I would also hope that all conservatives wake up one day with a simple thought in their simple heads, FDR's heretical statement "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." There is no monster in the closet, no terrorist under the bed. Things are going to be fine. Now loosen up, stop being such a greedy, fearful, hateful bastard. Enjoy life, and let others enjoy theirs. We're all in it together. Stop acting like you're only in it for yourself, and then burn your copy of Atlas Shrugged.

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