Risk Taking…

2016-03-06_09-29-51.pngThere is a big portion of our population who are just risk averse. They shutter at the very idea of risk or almost any other change for that matter.  Risk to them is to be avoided at all costs.  Most of these risk averse people are conservative in nature and politics.

When I was in the corporate world I worked for such a company. They stated “We want you to take risks but just don’t ever fail!” I could never understand how they could not see the absurdity of that statement?

Trying something  new is basically going against the grain of common day knowledge. Risk taking is the fodder of innovation in the the world and it is equally important in each of our personal lives.  Doing what is always comfortable is soothing to some but it almost always leads to stagnation. Making mistakes is just part of life, it is part of living. To learn from those mistakes is what life is all about.

If you never fail then you really aren’t taking any risks….

Are You Conservative Enough…

2016-02-14_11-14-57.pngIt seems that the GOP presidential wannabes are constantly arguing that their opponents just aren’t conservative enough to be president. Of course, they wrap their radical ideology in the American flag and somehow that gives it legitimacy.  If any of them were to even hint of compromising on any issue they are quickly and firmly put down as not being conservative enough.  Are they winning votes when they do that?  Just how conservative is the electoral population vs the “conservative”candidates?  That is the general topic for this post.

But first let’s look at the conservative vs progressive divide a little. A conservative is one who primarily clings to the past whereas a progressive is always looking forward for better ways to do things.  A Conservative is change averse whereas a progressive embraces change. These are my fundamental definitions of these two groups. I think most of us would agree that it is not a good thing to be totally in either of these camps. A healthy balance is what is what I seek.

I am one who tries to learn the lessons of the past in order to not make the same mistakes over and over again. Understanding what needs to change and what doesn’t is critical to a healthy balance in life. Learn from the past but with an eye always to the future. The current crop of conservatives are always looking at their past as the good old days.

It seems that so much in today’s world, particularly our political establishments, are skewed too far in both directions. There just doesn’t seem to be a middle anymore. It is now a chasm never to be crossed. I don’t believe that is how most in our country think now. Pragmatism and critical thinking are becoming the norm for many of us, particularly among the millennials and beyond.

A radical conservative hates change, especially where it means he will have to relinquish some of his power. “Don’t rock the boat” is often their mantra.

A radical progressive wants to change things simply to change them. The “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality is foreign to them.

I can see on the horizon a time when we reject an either/or mentality and embrace what works.  I may be wrong, I have certainly been wrong about many things in life, but I see in the not too distant future a total rejection of the status quo in favor of moderation and less conflict.   I believe this is coming in the coming decade if not sooner. This paradigm shift will result in some stressful times. That will be painful but a better future will result.

Call me a Don Quixote dreamer if you want but I think our better days are still ahead of us once we shed off the extreme partisanship in the world today…

 

Now That I Notice It…

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I don’t know when it first caught my attention but since then I have seen it again and again.

It seems that whenever you get a conservative and a progressive across the table from each other with a moderator in between the same thing happens.  When it is his turn the conservative spends as long a time as the moderator will allow giving his opinions about whatever the topic at hand is.  The progressive sits by waiting for his turn. When it is his turn he gets no more that a couple of words out of his mouth before the conservative interrupts him.

I don’t know but I kinda think that if the moderator doesn’t chime in, and they almost never do, then we need to play the same game and interrupt them as soon as they start. I know that will do nothing to promote a dialog but constantly getting shouted down doesn’t do us any good either.  We progressives need a bigger horn.  The real answer is for the moderator to, well moderate but I don’t think they do that because they know that conflict is what generates viewership and they now live and die by viewership.

Some how or another we need to insist that people stop interrupting and start listening.  Nothing can be accomplished until that happens…..

Paul or Plato – Part II…

This is a continuation of the post about two distinctive worldveiws so prevalent in our society today. Let me say up front that even with violating my self imposed 500 word limit on posts this will only very lightly touch on the matter of good or evil. Lets pull a couple of quotes from yesterday’s post to concentrate on here.

Still, the distinction is real and important — and its implications touch on areas of our cultural life far beyond criminal justice. It helps to explain, for example, the very different ways that Platonic liberals and Pauline conservatives approach sex — with the former willing to trust in the power of rational sex education to help shape behavior, and the latter much more concerned about their children succumbing to sinful temptation no matter how many rational arguments they’re exposed to. 

SOURCE:  The real fault line in the culture war isn’t race or sex. It’s sin..

Different world views depending on whether you are a Platonic liberal or a Pauline conservative is an interesting concept.  I don’t necessarily agree with the liberal/conservative tags added but be that as it may. I will acknowledge that most people can probably be classified as one or the other of these groups. And then there are people like me, and I hope many others, who might look at it from a different angle.

As I always like to point out this issue is not black/white, Plato/Paul but instead shades of both. As the quote from yesterday said it is too simplistic that one view holds people as good and the other as people are evil because they are always sinful.  Let’s look at Paul and his teaching first.

In order to understand the words of Paul so dominant in the Christian bible you must look at his life’s experiences to see how his philosophy was shaped. Paul was first and foremost a Jewish scholar. He was all about rules. Rules on how to live, what to eat, how to pray, rules about everything. These rules are to keep you from sinning. Paul’s education and everything about him was jewish. When he saw his vision on the road to Damascus it made him realize that he had part of  it wrong. But only part. Since he was a very educated man he wrote much about his new-found faith but intertwined it with his jewish beliefs of rules and sin. I am one of those who align with Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts that Paul took the simple messages of Jesus and made them complicated.

Plato on the other hand generally believed in the goodness of man. He believed that this innate goodness came from our creator and was deeply embedded in us. He was more about shedding off faulty traditions than about rules. Plato was a very complicated guy but for this discussion his idea of innatism is at the center.  Innatism is a philosophical doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a ‘blank slate’ at birth and that knowledge is generally about wanting to become one with your creator. Therefore he, unlike Paul,concluded that man is at his foundation good as it comes from God who is good.

Plato or Paul?  To me these are two different interpretations of how to live our lives. I personally gather some insight from both but probably align more with Plato. As my Quaker friends say I believe that “there is the light of God in all of us” and that light was given to us by our creator. But I also recognize that temptations are always there. So am I a Platonic liberal or a Pauline conservative?  I am a shade of grey somewhere in between.

About Conservatives…..

 

MizerI am have been thinking about the word  “conservative” lately and how I thought it defines me as far as fiscal things go and how it seems to define many of my friends as a general philosophy.  I know  like everything else you can’t put all conservatives in the same box but there seems to be some common traits I assign to that label.  Let’s start out with the basic definition:

  1. a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas

adjective

  1. resistant to change
  2. having social or political views favoring conservatism
  3. unimaginatively conventional
  4. avoiding excess • a conservative estimate 
  5. conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class

In the past I have identified myself as a fiscal conservative. From a governing standpoint I want to make sure that the money I send to Washington in taxes to do the people’s business is wisely spent. I don’t treat my money haphazardly and I don’t want my government to do that either. But after looking at the basic definition above maybe I think I need to find a new label. I am definitely not reluctant to accept fiscal changes or new ideas about monetary policies, in fact I would embrace one if I thought it would solve some of our problems.  I definitely would not call myself unimaginatively conventional when it comes to money  or anything else for that matter! If you have read much of what I have said in the blog I’m sure you would agree with that. Definition 5 is kind of muddled and without meaning to me so I won’t go there. The standards of the middle class seem to change on a daily basis especially as the conservative group continues to shrink.

But the definitions above do seem to describe many of my friends. They, for the most part, fear change instead of  embracing it.  Many seem to continue to live in the limelight of the Reagan years.  They hate all the change in the last twenty years; especially change brought on by the “liberals”.  Yeah, many of my friends are unimaginatively conventional.

Well, I seem to have decided that the traditional definition of the word “conservative” does indeed describe many of my less than progressive friends but doesn’t hack it when I apply it to myself for fiscal matter. 🙂   So, what should I call myself?   Maybe fiscally prudent progressive.  That has kind of a nice ring to it. From this day forward I am a FPP. Conservative describes those who hate or at least adamantly resist change and that is definitely not me. But I will kind of hold on to that label for some of my less progressive friends….

With Teeth & Compassion….

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“Can we make legislation with enough teeth in them for conservatives and compassion for liberals?”

I heard the above phrase, or at least something close to it, from a news commentator recently. I wish I could cite the source but I really don’t remember who it was.  But the phrase struck me as maybe a primary difference between these two groups.

Conservatives seem to be much more concerned about “law and order” than about being altruistic. They want to make sure that no one gets anything that they haven’t worked for or at least earned in one way or another. Liberals on the other hand are willing to give people the benefit of doubt and just don’t assume that everyone needing help is just  gaming the system.
Since there seems to be such a strong divide between these two groups in our current political processes the question is can we create laws that satisfy both of these groups? I guess we will soon find that out if the immigration initiatives comes to anything.

Maybe when it comes down to the root level my Republican friends just see a bad guy at every corner who they need to defend themselves from and my Democratic friends just see someone who is maybe down because of some circumstances and just needs a little help. Does that explain the different world views? Maybe.

This is kind of a unique way of describing the conservative/liberal divide.  Do any of my conservative or liberal friends have a different take on it?

The Slippery Slope…..

 


Slippery
I am totally sick of the “slippery slope” that my conservative friends so often cling to!!

If I hear another person give me a slippery slope story I just might punch them. The idea of the slippery slope consumes so much of their lives. It is the center point for their current stands against gun regulation. It is the center point for their current stands of excluding anyone from their religious circles who don’t totally align with them.  It is the center point of their current stands on taxes.

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Being Broad Minded….

Nothing makes a man broad-minded like adversity  –  Will Rogers

I can certainly understand this quote from Will. The adversity in my life, although coming more frequently than I would like, has certainly made me more broad-minded. Coming from humble beginning has made me sensitive to the daily plight of the homeless and financially challenged around me. Going deaf in mid-life has made me more aware of the challenges others face with handicaps every day. Being asked to leave a church because I didn’t have the “right” beliefs has made me aware of all those who are gun-shy about anything spiritual.

I’m pretty sure my personal warranty expired when I turned sixty. Since then more and more of my body has become worn out so I sympathize with those who have it even worse off than I do. For these reason I have progressed from a young conservative to a socially progressive liberal. In other words I have matured as I have aged. I am also a follower of Jesus Christ and by following his examples I have tried to have love for the orphans, the widows, the homeless,  and even those brought down my stresses of the day that resulted in various addictions. Yes, they might have brought their problems upon themselves but haven’t we all screwed up once in a while and don’t we all deserve love? Jesus was my example; he loved the loveless!

I readily admit that I am now a “bleeding heart do-gooder” that many of my conservative friends seem to despise so much. Where they rail against providing healthcare for all I dream of the day when that is a reality. Where they rant about people getting something for nothing I  take Jesus’ words to heart giving without question for the “least of these”.  Where they fear those among us who have gotten themselves in one form of trouble or another I try to cautiously reach out to them as well.

Like Will says my adversity has made me broad-minded. Those who have been given everything in life need to get a taste of real adversity to realize just how just much they have. They need to quit complaining about not having the latest (you name it)  and start showing some compassion for those who have much less than they do.  They need to realize that although they pretty much eat whatever and whenever they want there are those that struggle to put even one meal a day in their family’s stomach.

For those fortunate enough to have discretionary money they need to be willing to fork over a little of that money  in taxes for those who are not as fortunate at they are. They need to realize that the Bible saying that “it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” is not so much about riches as it is about being broad-minded and compassionate for their fellow human beings..

But what do I know.

My Conservative Friend….

I just visited the blog of one of my Conservative friends. Like so many others he claims he is an independent but everything on his blog  has a VERY right leaning slant. My friend is currently ranting about the Wall Street protests. He claims they are a vast conspiracy with a collective mentality. That is someone other than them is telling them everything to do and say. They have no mind of their own or they wouldn’t be protesting against these things. He evidently has spent hours and hours studying the dialog and transcripts of each the Republican presidential debates and goes into them in long drawn out details on his daily blog.

My Conservative friend’s life seems to be centered around everything political. There seems to be little left for anything else in his life.  He even mentions that he should “get a life” but jokingly admits he can’t help himself or so he says.  The underlying purposes for this fixation seems to be that my friend just can’t stand the idea of anyone getting something they haven’t worked for or haven’t earned. I find this to be a rather frequent case for many with his political leanings. It seems they would rather see fifty families starve rather than allow one person to game the system. What a sad perspective to live life with.  The ironic thing is that between the lines it sounds like my friend is on some sort of disability and is probably receiving some monetary payments in that regard. I’m sure he believes that he is one of the few who actually deserve it.

I have several other Conservative friends who more or less mirror this particular friend’s attitude and behavior and even quite the same rhetoric.  I regrettably admit that I know some people who I am pretty sure are gaming the system. That is they are receiving unemployment benefits without really looking for a job. They are probably receiving food stamps as well.  But I also know many many others who definitely need a hand up in their current situations. It greatly saddens me to see so much need in the world around me.

But what saddens me the most is that there are people who call themselves evangelical Christians who also strictly align to my Conservative friend’s agenda. I as a follower of Jesus Christ read his words almost daily and what I read has nothing to do with keeping people from getting something they don’t deserve or have not worked for. In sentence after sentence of what I read I actually see the opposite: “Do for the least of these or I will not know you”,  “Give someone who asks the shirt off your back”, “blessed are the poor”….

My Conservative friend really does need to take the words seriously to “GET A LIFE”. Being constantly fixated on “what’s mine is mine and keep your hands off it” is a very say and detrimental way to live. I worry about my Conservative friend from time to time. He is going to give himself a heart attack with all the dark feelings he constantly carries around inside him. He really does need to get a life outside his very negative feelings.

But what do I know…..

About Fox News….

sen·sa·tion·al·ism [sen-sey-shuh-nl-iz-uhm] –noun

1. subject matter, language, or style producing or designed to produce startling or thrilling impressions or to excite and please vulgar taste.

2. the use of or interest in this subject matter, language, or style: The cheap tabloids relied on sensationalism to increase their circulation.

When I ran across this definition the absolutely first thing I thought of was Fox News.  I also admit that after thinking of it a bit MSNBC also came to mind. The reason this thought came up is because of discussions with my conservative friend about the Fox News article referenced in the last post.  Fox News seems to be the only national news organization to report it, especially with such drama.  The next day, as expected, the judges words were overruled by a higher court.  So now it is a waiting game to see what the next sensational news release they will put out. I’m sure whatever it is will get my conservative friend just as riled as this one.

This is just another example of the extreme bias in so much of the media today. Fox News in particular seems to latch onto anything that will push  their readers into a frenzy and as evidenced by my discussions with my conservative friend they do a very good job of that.  For you Star Trek fans you might say that they “will seek out inciting news where no one has gone before“. 🙂   No that is not a typo, the I meant to use the word inciting not exciting. I’m sure my conservative friend has Fox News broadcast on much of the time he is in front of his “boob tube” just as some of my liberal friends have MSNBC constantly on.

Will we ever be able to bridge the chasm between these two news views? I don’t know what percentage of the overall news viewers are latched to these two channels but I imagine it is the majority of total viewers. With all the screaming going on those two channels it is hard to remember that other news organizations have not succumbed to this mentality; at least yet. The PBS News Hour is one who remains somewhat neutral although those on the right and left of our political spectrum probably think otherwise.

Of course this type of bias is not really unique to our time period only. From my historical readings and reminders from some of the commentors here, the Adams/Jefferson presidential contest was strife with biased reporting. And of course, it has happened other times since then. That is one of the reasons that give me hope that someday we just might return to some normalcy in our media. But that probably won’t occur in my lifetime 🙂

But what do I know…..