Tuesday, September 09, 2008

On the Bellicose and the Shrill

Something that has been on my mind lately: Liberal vs. Conservative. The Sarah Palin thing has brought this out quite a bit. You go on some websites and she is absolutely demonized (i.e. Salon.com) and on others she is completely lionized (i.e. TownHall.com). One thing that Palin has brought out in stark relief is how complicated life is. We’re all somewhere between the lion and the demon, some of us more demon and some more lion.

The point is not the merits and faults of Ms. Palin. It is the relative intensity with which the extremes are pursued. I’m also not seeking a mitigation of passion. What I’m seeking is understanding and civility, for a multitude of reasons.

I don’t have a problem determining which side of the divide I am on. I am a liberal in the classical sense, but in today’s environment I find myself consistently on the conservative side of things. My interest is how to relate to society as a politically involved person. I want to be civilly involved while remaining civil. I want to maintain the end of promoting virtue and values without resorting to the means of being mean.

Not only that, but I want to encourage this spirit universally.

This all sounds a bit like whining, but I’m not sure. The defenses have become a bit too bellicose and the complaints have become a bit too shrill. Is this the business of politics? Could it be that resilient cotton, with which to stuff one’s ears, is a necessary tool in the political arena?

Sometimes the shrill voices can be exhausting. It makes you want to take up balsa modeling or gardening.

As I think about it, the more “virtue” jumps out at me. It’s easy to be upset by the multitudinous peccadilloes of various pundits and politicians. The difficult thing is to remain cool and rational amongst the shrieking. Also, it takes some measure of hope in people, that they really are trying to reach the truth and that they are doing the best with what they have. Also, confidence in yourself that you can explain your point of view and that your point of view matters.

Also, practicality. Principles are important, and on some sides principles are over-riding. But if you truly care for your principles, you will take care to make sure they are communicated in a way that will be heard. This takes subtlety.

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