Not Right or Left: The Via Media

Political differences in the USA are on my mind this week.

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

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

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?

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Explore posts in the same categories: American Politics, Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, Philosophy

11 Comments on “Not Right or Left: The Via Media”

  1. Chris Cole Says:

    I agree with what you are saying against both sides. The leftists jump and smile as soon as they here the word change and seem to automatically assume it is for the best, without looking and seeing what the change would really cause. While the right seems content to hide behind the idea of religion and that is why things should be handled a certain way.

    As a Christian I am more frustrated with this, just because a census indicates the major religion of a country or area is one thing does not mean that that group will follow its true beliefs… and this has been going on for centuries, just look at the crusades.

    Both parties are more than flawed, they are over feed spoiled pets who think that the people live to serve them and not the other way around. This is why I encourage anyone who has the ability to vote to do their best to listen to each individual canidate’s policies and vote for the one you truely believe is in the best interest of America. For me, this does me that I tend to vote more conservatively, but I have voted the “Liberal” canidate before… John Kerry for example. On a side note, I also voted Kerry not because I totally disagreed with Bush’s policy, but more how he handled his failures… very stubborn and did not want to take resposibility… but that is another topic.

  2. Gary Hicks Says:

    Good thoughts, Erik, and in general I agree. But aren’t there some issues on which “God’s way” is either left or right, rather than the via media? Civility should rule the day in dialogue with political opponents, but I really believe that sometimes the Dems have it about right, and sometimes (less often) the Republicans. Can’t middle ground be a cop-out at times? What about slavery or women’s suffrage or abortion?

    • boehadden Says:

      Gary,
      Good point, and I agree completely. What I meant by being down the middle is that on somethings I like the Right’s stance on somethings I like the Left’s stance but I cannot embrace the majority of either’s position.

      On individual issues I often take a stance that may be considered partisan. Thanks for bringing up that important distinction.

      Because you bring up abortion (forgive the rant!), I think this is an interesting situation. The discussion is often whether or not abortion should be legal or illegal. But this talk glosses over too many details for my liking.

      For example, Roe v Wade didn’t just make abortion “legal.” It went a huge step further and made it illegal to make abortion illegal. What if we let the states decide? Or what if we made it legal only for medically necessary cases? Even many pro-choicers I’ve talked to think that “abortion for convenience” should be lessened or done away with. They just don’t know the statistics that the overwhelming majority of abortions are “abortion for convenience.”

      Also, economic & corporate policies can all effect people when they are faced with the frightening choice about what to do with an unexpected pregnancy. How about increase federal support for adoption agencies and community programs to help unwed mothers?– but the right would never consider increased government spending on social programs, but then they continue to say they are against abortion– this confuses me.

      I don’t agree with the left’s position on abortion. However, I don’t like how the right uses it as a platform but then seems to do nothing with it or only talks about making it illegal. Why doesn’t the right fight for some of the options I mention above? At least that would decrease the number of unnecessary abortions– isn’t that a great place to start? So, though I don’t like the left’s position, I also don’t like how the right handles their position… so, I’m down the middle, once again.

      Do you have a different stance/thought? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on the matter!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Chris Says:

        “How about increase federal support for adoption agencies and community programs to help unwed mothers?– but the right would never consider increased government spending on social programs…”

        As someone who will admit leanign toward the left this is something that I agree with completely. However, my question is, what is the source of that money? I think that is a lot of the problems that the right seem to have, but don’t explain it well… they would love to help, but if already being told keep taxes low, there is no answer there. What I think should happen is reform the social programs we have so they are not being taken advantage of by people who do not genuinely need it (I am not saying people don’t need it, I am simply saying some people wilfully lie cheat and steal from these programs). Take welfare, it is estimated that close to $3 BILLION a year is given to people who do not have cause or even legal claim to these funds. Could you imagine what could be done with that money alone; people in the program who need more could have more, they could start new support for programs such as adoption, and maybe even give some back to the tax payers too.

  3. Chris Says:

    I meant lean to the right not left sorry!

    • boehadden Says:

      Good points, Chris.

      Two comments:
      1) I don’t care if taxes are raised. I live a great life. If I have to sacrifice my monthly cable or more so more people can have a decent roof over their head or access to healthcare, etc… I don’t mind doing that at all.

      2) I agree, if your numbers are true then the system needs reform. The problem with assistance programs is that none of them will be fool-proof– some people will always find a way to take advantage. I’d rather err on the side of providing, even though some will take advantage, than not providing at all. But, as you stated, maybe an overhaul or a reform will help much more of the money get to the people who need it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • Chris Says:

        First, let me state that I think America needs a complete overhaul across the board, and has needed it for sometime. We need to get away from big government, because when the larger the government the less rights and liberties its residents enjoy.

        Now, as for your first point, I agree, I have no problem with the prospect of sacrificing creature comforts so that those less fortunate can feed, clothe and shelter their families. However, this is a very religious centered view, not just Christian. So my question for you would be, is it fair for a government to keep taking more and more money from people who don’t share the same view? Someone who believes that 1) the government already takes a large chunk out of them and 2) they work hard for their money so that they are able to afford a more luxurious lifestyle. I look at it in a similar light as a relationship with God, it is not a forced relationship, we (humans) have to make the decision to accept God’s gift, because if it is forced it is not real. Just playing a little devil’s advocate.

        Like I said before, I would have no problem giving more if I knew the existing system was first reformed.

  4. boehadden Says:

    Chris,

    Good points as usual. And yes, the sacrificial idea discussed is a religious view. But then again so are laws against prostitution, gambling and many others (some would argue laws against stealing and murder are ultimately religious).

    If someone doesn’t think prostitution is morally or religiously problematic, then why are they denied what they would consider to be their right to use the services of a prostitute without breaking the law? If someone felt that their religion dictated that it is right to kill a woman for committing adultery, why are they denied the right to kill their spouse for committing adultery?

    Governments cannot be completely secular– certain worldviews, religious or philosophical, will permeate into the laws of the land. Laws prohibit certain acts (e.g. murder & prostitution) for the reason of keeping peace and order. So don’t laws that mandate certain acts (e.g. helping the poor) also help keep peace and order?

    I like that you’re playing devil’s advocate and I’m playing it back, too :):)

    Thanks for your great thoughts!

    • Chris Says:

      I see hwat you are saying, but would offer these few tidbits in response:

      First, things like gambleing and prostitution are leagal in certain areas, Nevada for both and many others just for gambleing. But I do see the point you are trying to get to and I agree.

      My second point is going to focus on the American law system, since that is the one I am most familiar with at this point in time. We in America use the word Free, but I think it has lost the true meaning and that is where the law comes in to play. If you look at at the constitution it makes it very clear how laws should work. It staes that any person is “Free” to do as they want as long as that action does not have a negative impact on the lifecycle of another person or even ones self (this is why suicide is illegal).

      So, if you take this boiled down view of law into account it is very easy to see where there are arguments about certain laws. Prostitution is illegal because it turns the prostitute into an object and not a human and therefore lessening their worth which is a negative. Gambleing can be addictive and many people have lost everything they had and ruined the lives of themselves and their families, a negative impact.

      If you take this concept into account I can see the argument for social programs. The person says that they work hard for their money to provide a certain lifestyle for themselves and their loved ones, but if they are forced to give that money away than they cannot live the life for which they worked, a negative impact… to them.

      On a side note I will say that there are some laws that are against things that do not seem to have a negative impact on anyones lifestyle, but we still have them because they are religious based, and they seem to be a huge argument point for both sides. But I will leave that for another blog!

      • boehadden Says:

        You say: “It staes that any person is “Free” to do as they want as long as that action does not have a negative impact on the lifecycle of another person or even ones self (this is why suicide is illegal).”

        By that logic, eating a McDonald’s a certain number of times per month should be illegal– and the marketers for McDonald’s should be prosecuted.

        Don’t take my McDonald’s away!

        Thanks for you comments!


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