Monday, August 2, 2010

A change in status?

On my Facebook profile, that is.  I changed my political view from something like "I like to think I transcend partisan politics (hah!)" to "Moderately liberal, mildly progressive, and somewhat conservative."  That was my somewhat playful way of saying that I don't think these big labels, which engender so much distrust and contention, are really polar opposites.  Each of the words means lots of different things; each has its own history and its own connotations; none of the words is truly an antonym for any of the others.

So I do in fact favor an open, free, pluralistic society, based on civility, tolerance, justice, respect, and goodwill (one meaning of "liberal") and have political positions on some, but not all, issues that are commonly considered "moderate" or "moderately liberal."  In general, I favor "progress" (who doesn't?), but with the caveat that not every change is really a change for the better.  And I do favor conserving what is good (though not everything is good simply because it is old or traditional).  And even when changes are made, I believe they need to be made carefully, with respect for the organic texture of social and spiritual reality.  So I guess that makes me "somewhat conservative."  (I greatly admire Edmund Burke, one of the great "conservative" thinkers of history.)  But at the same time, I find some typical "conservative" positions of the moment (as well as some typical "liberal" positions) abhorrent. (For more on this--a statement I recently discovered by Dallin Oaks--see the third comment below.)

I didn't throw in "radical" since I believe extreme political views tend to be impractical, arrogant, and destructive.  Yet if the word "radical" is taken in its literal sense (having to do with the "roots"), I think we have to at least think our problems through "radically" and consider what "radical" solutions--ways of getting at the roots of problems--would mean.

Which reminds me: I've just been rereading some of the dispute between Erasmus and Luther on "free will" (Erasmus believed there is some measure of human free will; Luther didn't).  I'm more Erasmian in my style--looking, with modesty, for a moderate, reasonable stance that accords with the complexities of real life.  Yet I admire the boldness and bluntness of Luther, who was absolutely sure he was right and who couldn't stand what he thought was Erasmus's wishy-washiness.  Luther certainly had immense impact on the world, but I think some of what he did was destructive and hindered rather than enhanced human understanding and improvement.  I hope Luther and Erasmus have become friends again and have come to accept a much larger, deeper, richer, and excitingly real reality than either of them could have imagined during their mortal lives.


Bruce Young said...

One more thing: Many of my friends and relatives have started giving Facebook indications of their political views--one reason I decided to indicate mine.

In terms of current politics, I admire and support the president and am open to contributions others--of whatever political stripe--might make. As the following post indicates, however, I remain ambivalent about one currently prominent figure (and potential presidential candidate), Mitt Romney: see

Bruce Young said...

New and improved version of the Romney post:

Bruce Young said...

I recently discovered a statement by Dallin H. Oaks that expresses sentiments similar to my own: "Those who govern their thoughts and actions solely by the principles of liberalism or conservatism or intellectualism cannot be expected to agree with all of the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As for me, I find some wisdom in liberalism, some wisdom in conservatism, and much truth in intellectualism—but I find no salvation in any of them" (“Criticism,” Ensign, Feb 1987, 68ff.). Dallin H. Oaks is currently a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.