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Can We All Get Along?

March 26, 2012

Do you remember Rodney King?  If you remember the riots of 1992 you probably do.  King was beaten by white police who were then found not guilty of it.  It sparked major riots.

Can we all get along? He asked.

I was exchanging emails with a friend on opposite sides of the fence politically.  I said healthcare was a right especially for our children.  She said it was a luxury and went on to say that people who believed as I did were “duped” and “kindergartners.”

Now I did and do love her dearly but this took me aback.  If you knew her you’d know she was a gentle, thoughtful, intelligent woman who has gone through a lot and seen a lot.  I admire her. Yet the terms she used were contemptuous of those who did not believe as she did.

As I considered her words, I thought of my own, which have been no more flattering of “conservatives” at times.  I don’t use these words to their faces but I do think them.  How can they vote against their own self interests?  How can they let income inequality turn them into serfs?  How can they be so selfish and so uncaringly brutal as to condemn little children to face the failures of their parents?  And by failure I mean not only criminality, addiction and abuse but being a member of the working poor, and/or uneducated.

Then Nicholas Kristof wrote an opinion piece about this book: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt.  It brought me up short.  In it, apparently, Haidt finds that conservatives understand liberals far better than liberals understand them.

Haidt and colleagues have found that morality is under-girded by basics: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity.   Haidt says (at least he says so according to William Saleton of Slate) that conservatives embrace all of these foundations. Liberals focus on only two:  care and oppression.

Wait a moment, you’re saying that I’m too narrow-minded, too focused?  There is more to life than equity and caring for people?  But Jesus talks a lot about that.  He reached out to those without means or power.  He was not rich himself.  He condemned those who put riches and position before their spiritual well-being.

Jesus and the whole scope of the Bible, however, address all of these things; authority and sanctity, loyalty and liberty.  Now He doesn’t make liberty above all of the others.  Conservatives for whom liberty is preeminent I think are leaving out swathes of intent and wisdom from the Bible.  Doesn’t Paul say we have freedom to do many things that perhaps we ought not to do?

I believe humankind is sinful.  I believe that Jesus came to save us because we couldn’t save ourselves and couldn’t meet God’s justness.  Given that, I still don’t think that we should heap the sins of the fathers on the children.  I still support healthcare as a right not a privilege.  I do acknowledge though I should respect the broader view of many conservatives and seek to understand … yeah even before being understood.

From → Politics, Religion

2 Comments
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  2. The Man Who Was . . . permalink

    Wait a moment, you’re saying that I’m too narrow-minded, too focused?

    Sorry, but I’m afraid so. The religious left tilts way too much towards a utililitarian/Rawlsian view of ethics, downplaying these other transcendental axes of morality. There is a good reason why utilitarianism is so closely associated with secularism: it is utterly of this world. It really does seem to imply, at the very least, a really thin spiritual world: atoms and the void, with a dollop of God on the side.

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