19 Mar 1999
Right or Left?
A reader asked me how being a liberal or conservative relates to our path to liberation and where is the dividing line between the two.
What is liberating can be either conservative or liberal. For instance, one of the main reasons we fought World War II was to CONSERVE our way of life from the changes that Hitler wanted to impose. As a result this war brought liberation to many peoples. On the other hand, the Revolutionary War in America was fought to create liberal change. This also brought liberation to many.
There is always a fence in this reality and if we cannot see the point in the middle that creates the fence our beliefs are likely to be fuzzy. It is true that in some great ultimate reality everything is One, but if we dwelt in that reality now, then you and I may not even exist as individual entities. Have we arrived at the consciousness to accept such a thing? I haven’t, and I know of no one who has. Therefore, it is important that we deal with the reality in which we exist for this is what we must do to take our next step.
In this reality a conservative and liberal exists just as much as a Mormon and Catholic does. Humanity has created precise deﬁnitions of thousands of terms to allow us to communicate. The words conservative and liberal are certainly two words with as much purpose as any other. Our way of looking at conservative and liberal is based on what we call the Pendulum Principle.
A pendulum has two motions and three points. One motion is to the right and one is to the left. The three points on the pendulum are the extreme left, the extreme right, and the point of stillness in the middle.
If one studies the history of a country or civilization, he can see the swing of the pendulum at work. Periodically a people will swing over to the left as we did in the sixties, and then to the right as we did in the eighties. There are greater and lesser swings, and swings within swings – some lasting a few years, and others affecting us for centuries or more.
Let’s examine the energy behind these forces which we call conservative or liberal, and try to make sense of what is happening. We will leave out the insults that both sides throw at each other.
THE PURE CONSERVATIVE
This is associated with the past (the good old days were good, the future seems bleak); resistance to untried /unproved ideas; ﬁscal responsibility; male dominated; old time religion; an “eye for an eye” punishment philosophy; belief in the literal Constitution; reliance on self, the mind and common sense; authoritative; belief in freedom but limited to parameters of one’s own philosophy.
THE PURE LIBERAL
Associated with the future (the good old days were not so good and the ideal lies in the future); willingness to try unproved ideas; spend, and the needed money will somehow materialize; female dominated; non-literal, possibly experimental in religion; belief that criminals are often victims and need rehabilitation; non-literal interpretation of the Constitution; reliance on the group, particularly in making decisions; governed by emotion and instinct rather than mind; belief in emotional freedom but also limited to parameters of one’s own philosophy…
Anyone who is not an extremist can see here that we would be in trouble if either side dominated on a permanent basis.
If the pure conservative dominated completely, we would be under very strict rule in certain areas of our lives, and only governed by what we thought worked in the past. Progress and innovation would come to a standstill. Entertainment would be very stiﬂed.
Present conservatism in the United States is linked to capitalism and limited government, but keep in mind that capitalism and limited government were created by liberals. Conservatives now endorse it because it is associated with the past.
If the pure liberal ruled completely, we would have 1000 per cent inﬂation, bankruptcy due to overspending by the government and controls on corporate proﬁts, uncontrolled entertainment, and very few effective controls on the criminal element.
Fortunately, the natural order of things allows the liberal and conservative energies to interplay and guide us toward the point of truth that is somewhere in the middle.
We must not discard all the things of the past as the pure liberal desires, but take the things that are good and keep them, and have the courage to drop the things that have outlived their usefulness. We must not be afraid to try new things as the liberal desires (using conservative common sense), and spend money on experimental avenues (with ﬁscal responsibility). We certainly do not want our progress to remain at a standstill.
Most of us have some of the conservative and liberal within us without fully realizing the interplay that is going on. The important thing to remember is to keep the spirit of freedom burning within our breasts and allow those with whom we disagree to have their say. Freedom does not belong to either conservative or liberal, even though both sides lay claim to it. Freedom can only triumph when there is complete openness to both sides of a question.
How are conservative and liberal energies working out in today’s world?
We cannot completely tie these energies to Republicans and Democrats, for there are liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Nevertheless, liberal thinking has dominated politics, especially in the spending area since about 1965. Because of this far left swing, it became imperative that we become more responsible as a nation with our ﬁnances and put our house in order. What chance does beautiful liberal idealism have if we are bankrupt as a nation? The nature of energy is forcing, not only the United States, but most of the nations of the world to examine closely what works, and what doesn’t work economically over the next few decades.
At present, the conservative energies are also strong at play in the entertainment industry. There is much talk about shielding our youth from sex and violence.
On the other hand, in religion and philosophy liberal energies are strong at play. Many innovations in religion and thinking are making themselves felt. I do not know of any major religion that is becoming more conservative. In fact, religion is experiencing somewhat of a revival because of various liberal experiments in independent churches to bring back the ﬂock.
When one realizes that neither conservatives nor liberals are the big enemy, he can become an intelligent watcher of events and pick the side that is correcting a great wrong. That is why (from my point of view) I am conservative when I see that liberalism has gotten us in over our heads, and liberal when I see conservatism stiﬂing our creative energies.
Because of this stance, I ﬁnd that conservatives seem to think I am a liberal and liberals think I am a conservative. If a person is polarized on one side or the other, he will think that any disagreement on any point brands another as the enemy. Nevertheless, I know there are a lot of people out there who take the best from both sides as I try to do.
Some call the person in the middle a wimp. This may be true for one who always stands in the middle. But that is not my stand. My stand is sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, depending on where the push or pull is needed. The only stand I ever concretely take is either for the truth or the pursuit of truth, wherever that path may lie. So, for those of you who have been guessing my political position you need to keep guessing because you will never be permanently correct.
Perhaps it would bring some clariﬁcation if we point out that there are four positions to take politically. They are (1) Conservative polarization (2) Liberal polarization (3) Moderate polarization (4) The position of Truth no matter where it lies.
The quintessential example of #1 is Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich. Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi are great examples of #2. Moderate examples (#3) are Republican John McCain and on the Democratic side, Jim Webb.
There are very few politicians in category #4, but when you ﬁnd one, he or she will often have a major effect on the history of his country or even the world.
The best example I can think of in this area would be Winston Churchill. He was neither conservative nor liberal, but searched for the truth without preconceived notions. He was one of the few politicians, especially in his era, who switched parties and was successful in both of them.
Because he sought the most effective path, he became the only major ﬁgure in the world to become aware of the dangers of Hitler and his Nazi party before they became a world threat. He spent seven years trying to warn both parties of his country before they woke up to the truth of his words.
Churchill did not take moderate stands to avoid criticism from both sides. Instead he took unpopular positions somewhere between the two extremes where he often stood alone.
Other great leaders also took this fourth position to a greater or lesser degree. Among them are Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson and others. Unfortunately It is difficult to find such a leader in the current time.
The difference between this last category and the other three lies in the quality called judgment. The true conservative and liberal follow their ideals without questioning them or making judgments on their own. The moderate follows the line of least resistance and generally chooses a platform based on how popular its appeal will be.
None of these three have to use much judgment in taking their position. For instance, a political observer can pretty much predict what their position will be at any given time. The impeachment (of Bill Clinton) vote along party lines was a great example. Churchill, on the other hand, was fairly unpredictable because he assimilated the facts and made a judgment, not based on party line or the line of least resistance, but on what was true and best for his country.
To go beyond being a knee jerk reactor or sliding down the road of the line of least resistance does require the “arrogance” to examine all information, often to ignore established authority, and to make a judgment based on what you perceive as the best direction. Such a person will often be perceived as arrogant, no matter how humble his approach. He or she will also hear the words; “Who do you think you are?”
If you have heard these words before you may be headed toward the fourth category of government by truth. The person in the fourth category is very effective in the persuasion of ideals because he understands how he arrived at them. He doesn’t have his ideals because his mom or dad or teacher gave them to him, but because he arrived at them through independent thought.
The person using judgment will often take the least safe position. The thinker in this fourth category does not always take a safe stand approximately in the middle of the two extremes to avoid offense, as does the moderate. When necessary he will take the extreme position on the left or right. If the country is committing error on the far right, he may go to the far left to pull it toward the middle; and if the country is on the far left, he may swing to the far right to help highlight the truth at the middle.
The truth is always relevant and if your goal is to expose the truth your impact will be powerful and lasting.
Copyright by J J Dewey
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