Not Right or Left: The Via Media
In the past I was fairly conservative, but now I’m more left-leaning. I have seen and embodied the fear and the venomous self-righteousness that comes from both sides of the political spectrum in the States.
Now, however, I reject both worldviews that seem to emanate from the two parties. The following are only some of the reasons why. I speak in generalizations of course, as the topic necessitates.
The left, generally speaking, sees that any movement away from the past is progress. Hence, the term “Progressives” to describe them. They have mistakenly applied Darwin’s biological Theory of Evolution to social and cultural issues. However, even if we do grant them that their application is valid, they forget that for every case of biological change that is advantageous and moves a species “forward,” there are hundreds maybe thousands of changes that are disadvantageous and get “selected out.” Change and movement is not necessarily progress.
This flippant quickness to disregard something from the past is too shallow for me. In doing so, I feel that many traditions and views have been thrown out, when it was their abuse that was the problem, not the thing itself.
The left, in general, also promotes tolerance. However, I’ve read and heard reactions of those who preach tolerance when they see intolerance– and their venom against it is just as self-righteous as the act they are deriding. Their answer, all too often, to self-righteous, judgmental people is to judge them, call them names and devalue them. And the irony seems lost on them. The other problem I have with tolerance is that it has come to mean that I have to respect all ideas as many sides to truth and reality and believe that it’s all relative and there is no ‘one right’ way– while it promotes tolerance as the ‘one right’ way.
I believe in tolerance. But, tolerance means tolerating (accepting) people. I do not have to tolerate your ideas, but I recognize and honor your value as a person nonetheless. Of course I believe my ideas are right, that’s why they are my ideas! I can believe your ideas stink and still show you love and good will. Your personhood and its intrinsic value is not diminished by the views you hold or the things you do.
The right, in general, has co-opted Christianity but used it to incite fear and anger. Ideas like “America is a Christian nation” abound– and the consistent logic that follows turns Christianity more in to Americanism than America into Christ-likeness. Christianity, intrinsically, is not a state religion.
This use of Christ to bolster patriotism and nationalism is a gross blasphemy which I cannot abide.
The right, in general, also puts individualism and personal responsibility on a pedestal above all else. This denies, however, the indelible truth that no man is an island. American culture has worshipped at the statue of the Individual for a long time. If a mistake has been made, it is in the direction of taking individualism too far, not the other way around. Humankind is not individuals that make up society, nor are we a society made up of individuals– society and individuals are one in the same.
The right’s unwillingness and refusal to see the need for some social responsibility and action in government confuses me. If the government is to make laws against such things like murder and bribery in order to ensure peace and order, then making laws for things like changing systemic problems in industries and creating organizations that help to alleviate societal issues is also toward peace and order.
All in all, I’m down the middle and it saddens me that the divisiveness and partisanship has reached the levels it has. Lets hope more of us can find the via media (the middle way). There, at least, we can find somewhere to talk with civility about our differences and really hear each other and maybe grow and learn a thing or two.
Who’ll join me?