Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How We Clap

It's this "conservative" "liberal" thing. The words are just not as useful as they should be. Sure, meaningful and descriptive, but divisive. And if you don't know where you stand, because maybe you're like twelve years old, or morally underdeveloped, then the words are just annoying, like the details of a sport you don't follow. But if you're twelve and underdeveloped, you'd follow all sports, so that might not be the best example, but you know what I mean.

How about if we stop with the left and the right, and all the baggage and acrimony behind those ideas, and start with the idea of responsible? Say, we use the crashing airplane model, where the first thing you do is make sure you're buckled in, and then, after that first thing, you make sure the baby is strapped in too? Because if you don't survive, the baby won't either. See how that works? It's not instantly the obvious choice, but it's the smart one, the right one. Not even a cost-benefit thing, since one survival is technically better than no survivals. You'll get over the survivor's guilt. You can have another baby, or adopt. Cold, but true. I think I should know, about useless regrets. So trust me.

If we adopt this revolutionary and heretofore unheard of political philosophy, of being responsible ... but that would hardly be political -- you know, bread and circus ... never mind. If we were to enter some new Evolutionary phase of human social intercourse, a post-political one, a responsible one, where we are responsible, what might that be like? Neither left nor right, in a sort of Imagine blisstopia, but centered and moving outward after each logical and serial duty has been met?

We'd take care of our own selves, our own health, our own finances, our own children and siblings and parents. Almost tribal, in a way. So primitive, in the organic sense. Then, after the biological imperatives of healthy instinct combined with active intelligence have been met, we'd move outward to the more exogenous members of our society, and undertake the liberal responsibilities ... once the conservative ones have been fulfilled. The homeless and the fatherless and the drug addicts and the illegals, and the oppressed peoples suffering under despotic regimes, with foreign aid and social programs and revolutions and nation-building -- all these things, so vast, so grand, so heroic and idealistic ... they'd all rise up and demand to be addressed, as is only right, and human, and Christian, and liberal.

See? It's sort of a not-hypocritical way to be. Handle the things you have power over, most immediate first. Then, as individual influence wanes with distance, get all communal and glocal and econational. All workers of the world united. All lefty. But, first, pay off your credit cards, and be on time to work, and make sure your kids are fed, and polite, and can read. Otherwise, for all the grand motives, you'd actually be a dysenteric well, or choleric, or typhoidal, or whatever the particular disease that best describes the rippling vitiating effect of your irresponsibility.

Left is good, after more fundamental directions have been turned to. Right is fine, when it's followed by a distaff step. Part of it, and a big part, is just not getting caught up in the labels. Because there really are morally blind people, but most have a little common sense left over, even after all the TV and donuts and bad dreams. There is something left to which decency might appeal, the way a damned man in hell might yet possess enough unseared and not disintegrated soul to still crave a droplet of water.

I got an email conveying a Christian lesbian's criticism of my annually reappearing story, Pornography. Some causes I fear are hopeless. But I am not appointed to be the judge of hope. As I often, or at lease sometimes, remind myself, I can't save anyone. I just speak what I think is true, and either it makes a difference, or it returns to me, empty. Not my problem, either way. I start with my first duty, and take a next step if I see a place to put my foot. Guess I'm not much for faith.


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