Recently I responded to a left-leaning email challenge by a very dear but, in my humble opinion, mis-guided High School classmate (we’ll call her Sweetheart #2). Some of her many valid points included:
1) I’m glad for you that you are (still) able to rely on your personal initiative, but what about socially challenged folks – those who were born autistic or people just not capable of functioning in today’s or any day’s world? Are we under no obligation to try to assist them? Is the government under no obligation to provide a safety net for the less fortunate among us?
2) So, what about these people who, in your words, ” just don’t care enough to show up at the polls”. What about if they are shut-ins? Or disabled Veterans? Or don’t drive? Or just really old? Lots of people choose mail in ballots. Theirs shouldn’t be counted? If they get “lost” or hidden in a back room, they don’t count?
3) Of course you won’t be joining any “#MeToo” rallies. You probably were never abused/harassed/attacked, right? You don’t leave your house every day aware that you have to be aware of the possibility that you might be a victim of sexual assault. Few men do. But every woman I know has a story to tell, including me.
In responding, I made the mistake of falling back on narratives relating to and quotes from three very opinionated conservative voices from the past:
“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).” Ayn Rand
Nowhere is the chasm between the modern conservative and the modern liberal more apparent than in a discussion of “rights.” The modern liberal is the successor to the Jacobins of the French Revolution and their notion of abstract rights. New ones are dredged up every day in their relentless pursuit of equality, perfectibility, and Utopia. The modern conservative stands with the late 18th century British parliamentarian Edmund Burke, holding that the real rights of man are rooted in custom, tradition, faith, and that, in Burke’s own words, “whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself, and he has right to a fair portion of all which society, with all its combinations of skill and force, can do in his favour (sic). In this partnership all men have equal rights but not to equal things….”
“Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious”. George Orwell
Sweetheart #2 wasted no time in coming back at me with ……
“James, you can’t hide behind quotes by esteemed (now deceased) sources. We want to hear your voice, not theirs.”
(After the passing of a day or two) ……… okay ………..
Then my voice is the one you shall hear!
Yes you are correct. I am hiding behind quotes by esteemed and deceased sources. The quotes are called laws and scriptures.
Most of the former did, indeed, originate with deceased sources. Today we call these quotes the Constitution and legal precedents and, for the most part, they originated either directly or indirectly (through amendments or Court rulings) with the “founding fathers”.
Depending on your religion, or lack thereof, the sources for the latter flow from God Almighty or a prophet or prophets doing his biding. Christians, like myself, believe in canons that have all of the above very much alive but all religions have charity towards the downtrodden as a fundamental building block of their faith. Only when individuals and society as a whole turn their backs on their faith and values and assume that this is the norm of civilization do we cast our teachings aside and advocate for government intervention. In our case, this is the same government that condones and even encourages challenges by the populace to treasured references such as “under God” or “in God we trust”.
I am anything but a religious extremist. I seldom go to church. My only place of worship is a lovely spot near my home that I refer to only as the “Church of the Stump”.
Church of the Stump
I go there, all to infrequently, to read my King James, sing passages from the few hymns I remember from my youth (I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses …), and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all of the harmful things that have not befallen my family or myself. Christmas and Easter Sunday find me putting on long pants and a shirt with a collar and asking my wife if she’s “going to Mass or would you like to join me?” Since I choose to misconstrue Matthew 18:19-20, I treasure the opportunity to take her or one of my offspring along so as to validate the presence of Christ with the second or third person in the congregation.
I am not a demonstrably charitable man but I go out of my way to help those that, in my estimation alone, are in need and are unable to help themselves. I put great faith in the parable of the widow’s two mites and am much more apt to slip a handful of large bills into the Salvation Army kettle than I am to pledge any regular contribution to a traditional charity or place of worship.
It is admirable that you speak of wanting to provide a safety net for the less fortunate but recent history has emphatically demonstrated, once again, that “the level of need will always expand to meet the level of resources available.” I don’t want to spend my life working as hard as I do to provide for my family only to have my savings become part of an ever-expanding taxable Government resource needed to provide for a life style that has failed everywhere it has been formulated and tested … is it permissible to mention a few of their names? … East Germany, Cuba, Venezuela, the Soviet Union, and New Jersey …
“It is through the lens of humility that we should share the wisdom we have gained.”