regret that which is already lost, gone, or done. The negative consequences
of our actions can pop up over a lifetime, intermittently reminding us of
the mistakes made, the missed opportunities gone by, or that road untaken
due to cowardice, stupidity, or moral weakness. Why then would one ever to
choose to live with the devastating repercussions of an action that could
easily be reversed?
I am constantly reminded that I could have, would have, and should have been
a liberal. A simple political conversion on my part would make my life a
whole lot easier. I would no longer have to bite my tongue at dinner parties,
battle with myself over tough moral decisions and/or suffer the consequences,
and deny myself the sanctimonious satisfaction of feeling the “correct” way.
Yet I steadfastly remain what my friend lovingly labeled, “an evil, heartless,
war-mongering cretin.” In other words -- a conservative.
I certainly could have been a liberal because it sure did feel right. Following
your heart is sexy and exciting, and my heart used to -- and sometimes still
does -- tell me that I could trust my emotions to lead me down the correct
path and guide me in my decision making. Doing the right thing -- a rare
human trait -- was replaced by the mindless task of feeling right. I used
to naively deny that the primary obstacle to living a meaningful and happy
life was myself. What was true for me had to be true for everyone else. It
followed that the correct stances on social issues like capital punishment,
gun control, abortion, affirmative action, tax cuts, and school choice were
unquestionable. How could you have a heart and believe that abortion should
be frowned upon or that the state had the moral obligation to put murderers
to death? To set high standards for the less fortunate or to support the
cutting of certain government programs was akin to murder. Insisting that
the key to success and ultimate fulfillment was to work hard and accept responsibility
for your actions made you feel like the Tin Man hopelessly searching for
a heart. Who in their right mind would stay on that yellow brick road unless
there was some powerful force keeping them on it?
I would have been a liberal if nurture had been the be all and end all. Whether
I was reading Howard Zinn in high school or listening to my politically correct
professors in college, I grew up in a fog of moral relativism. Without a
strong sense of religion to fall back on, I was completely open to the belief
that there is no objective right or wrong. The beauty of this doctrine was
that I didn’t really have anything to fear. Sure, I guess I knew that cheating
was wrong and that I should always follow the Golden Rule, but these rules
could be overlooked under the right circumstance and if nobody found out.
I regretfully broke them a number of times, and justified it every time.
If I wasn’t even going to hold myself accountable to moral standards, how
could I judge entire countries or cultures? Multiculturalism offered me easy
justifications for the evil committed in the world and rescued me from that
feared task of passing judgment. It stated that capitalism had allowed a
couple countries to get rich at the expense of others and that you should
never judge one culture by the standards of another. Besides, no one culture
was better than any other. The simplicity of it all tempts me even now!
I should have been a liberal if I wanted to be accepted and embraced. I can
count the number of conservatives I know on one hand. Most of my friends
mock President Bush without the slightest provocation and my fellow teachers
unflinchingly vote for whomever and whatever the union endorses. Don’t get
me wrong -- I’ve raised my voice at more than one teacher meeting or fraternity
party. The problem is that those who disagree with me don’t just think that
my beliefs are wrong -- they feel they are evil. If I am coming at them with
bad intentions, even the most intriguing idea I offer is easily shot down
with a “Why don’t you go and live in Mississippi, you hick” or “I hope you
know Iraq also puts people to death”. It reminds me of the actor who stated
it was harder to come out in Hollywood as a conservative than as a gay person.
Believe me that biting your lip starts to hurt after a while.
So why don’t I just get off that yellow brick road I talked about earlier
and return to where I started? There are no easy answers. I suppose it has
to do with my underlying belief in objective truth and knowing that this
truth will prevail in the end. Also, maturity has taught me that the easy
route isn’t usually the one that leads to fulfillment. How many of us regret
the actions in our lives that required the most courage, hard work, and sacrifice?
Ask the young mother who didn’t abort, the poor black child who worked hard
and stayed in school, the single mother who got off drugs and found a job,
the husband who stayed faithful, and…
The president who didn’t waver. As he confronts the decision to wage war
against Iraq, there is certainly an easy route in the short run for President
Bush. If he called our troops home, he wouldn’t have to deal with the moral
decisions of putting innocent people in harm’s way or passing judgment on
another government. Also, our elites and the Europeans would stop comparing
him to Hitler -- at least for a little while. But Bush believes that this
is a fight for our freedom. A battle of good versus evil. He believes his
actions will ultimately be judged by someone higher than Maureen Dowd. I
have a feeling he isn’t about to say “ I could have, would have, should have.”
Aaron is a teacher
in South Central Los Angeles. He has a degree in economics from UC San Diego.
His articles have appeared on CommonConservative.com, BushCountry.org, CaptoVeritas.com
Email Aaron Hanscom
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