Today is a fairly typical morning for me. I happened across a social networking profile of someone I know that contained their political view. I was greatly amused at how we corral ourselves under such labels as conservative or liberal. There are others but one typically falls under the former or the later regardless. The Green Party, for example, would undoubtedly fall under a liberal label, certainly if the classifiers considered themselves conservative. And how divisive these labels are: wedge issues crop up between party lines and friends and family are thrown into discord over debates regarding what is moral or ethical. It is shamefully lazy to take on a label and say "this is my mindset." Life is not monochrome. Apathy is preferable to simply choosing a side and ceasing cognitive processes. I realize that most choose a label because the majority of the label does apply and the rest is irrelevant. However, I personally cannot and will not allow a one word summation of the entirety of my political views.
Politics are much like religion: they encompass a massive portion of a person's personality and emotional outlook. Politics are a person's views on how the world is, how it should be, and how to make it that way. Politics are ideals for society to be adhered to or, failing that, vied for. Once someone has settled upon a political stance, there is little anyone can do to change that stance, again, much like religion. Studies have been done using fMRI technology to see which parts of the brain are active when people think about religion and politics. Unsurprisingly, it is not the logical part of the brain that is most active, but the emotional part when people think about politics or religion. While emotions should be an aspect of decision making, it is important to not be a purely emotional thinker--rationality is key. There is a common misconception I would like to dismiss: rationality is not limited to cold, hard-cut decisions. There is a tendency to assume being rational means ignoring the emotional aspects of a situation; on the contrary, personal feelings should be heavily incorporated in important decisions, however these decisions should be reached through calm, clear headed rational thought, not knee jerk mindless reactions.
What I find most interesting about the political divide is that despite how much conservatives and liberals have in common they are mutual enemies in a (not always) polite war of lifestyle. Indeed, it is often those who have the most in common have the most to quarrel over: Sunni and Shi'a, Catholic and Protestant, and countless other coins. I personally have been called both a liberal and a conservative in relatively proximal time frames. Liberals call me conservative, and conservatives call me liberal. I believe this comes about due to a few reasons. The first of which is I am largely reactionary. I do not go seeking confrontation, but when it lands at my doorstep I answer in kind. The second reason is I do not subscribe to either label and judge issues and dilemmas according to my own set of morals and ethics. My third reason may be the true reason, negating my subtly yet righteously proclaimed first two: I merely oppose that which I encounter. I had a teacher label me the exception finder because every time he taught the class a rule or a guideline I immediately thought of an exception to the rule. My mind immediately seeks to invalidate whatever was just said. So the inability for me to fit within preconceived categories may very well be the result of my inherent tendency to move against the grain and not some intellectually derived disconnect between me and the rest of society. For posterity's sake and more specifically, my personal posterity, grant me the boon that my reactionary and individualistic nature are the root causes of my taxonomical dysmorphism and not any willful--consciously or subconsciously--disruption of demographers' efforts.
After consulting quizzes and political articles, I am best classified as a libertarian, which, in hindsight, is not the least bit surprising. Those of us who promote and demand individual liberty and personal responsibility and are cultural, economic, and intellectual elitists tend to have a libertarian mindset. And yet, I find myself going against the libertarian grain. I do not believe things like road building or police should be privatized. While I believe much of the government could be trimmed away there are some socialized institutions that should be added, such as universal healthcare, and others that should be drastically changed, such as moving away from large public schools to more charter schools or vouchers provided for privite school matriculation. I believe in the free market, but am against the overly consumerist society it creates. In a consumerist centric society, materialistic accumulation takes precedence over other more noble pursuits. Financial wealth is seen as, if not the best, the most assured path to happiness. There are facets of our economic system that we simply accept that I have come to see as causing as much harm as good. For example, the acceptance of debt. Debt is a made up idea, albeit a very old one, but a human conceived invention, nonetheless. Debt allows economic advance at the risk of economic ruin. I vehemently support the advancement of science and technology, but I do not see the need for technology to necessarily be consumer oriented (sadly product development to the ends of profit are what drive innovation currently). It is possible to have a thriving economy without utilizing systems of debt, however this is not small change. An economy and society without debt would be vastly different and I cannot see anyone willing to give up their way of life for a simpler, less materialistic one. Because of our way of life, one often cannot afford to live and work in the same place. This creates a requirement for transportation. Independant transportation imposes a significant cost both initial and periodic on the owner. The idealistic American way of life is largely at fault for the decay in general economic solvency.
At this point, I sound more liberal than conservative, so permit me to swing the scales back. I believe murder of any kind, be it felons, unborn children, or enemies of the State, is wrong, but sometimes unavoidably necessary. For some, this presents a cognitive dissonance too great to disregard, to wit, if something is necessary it surely is not wrong. Force should not be the first resort or the second resort or even the third, but there are instances where the only option is force. If one always turns the other cheek, eventually both cheeks will be bruised. In the theater of life, some actors must be removed from the stage entirely. War is an unpleasant aspect of human existence. Truly, it is the most severe price of freedom. It is, in my naive opinion, possible to eliminate war in a variety of ways, through mass castration, severely restricted access to information, forced public doping all of which are too inhumane to consider seriously. War is the price of freewill because as long as any member of mankind can choose to harm another, war will be waged. Cooperation, tolerance, compromise, and compassion can stem the flames of hatred and destruction, but they will always be a salve to the congenital human condition. There will always be dissent. There are some of us who intrinsically move in the opposite direction of the herd, even when the herd is fleeing a predator. There will always be a need for force. Those in opposition to those who wish to use force are morally bound to protect themselves and their enemies as much as possible, but when war is waged, it is equally immoral to let the innocent die, to let your life and the lives of those of your community to be unjustly taken. Taking the life of anyone, even those who wish to take your own, is wrong, but sometimes necessary.
I could write an entire essay on every topic touched upon in the preceding paragraphs, and I have not yet ruled out such a series of essays. But keeping audience in purpose in mind, I'll bring this essay to a close. There is a tendency to simplify and summarize, indeed I myself have just decided to do as much, for the sake of easier and greater consumption of material. Information was once passed on in epic stories which gave way to books which gave way to news papers which gave way to radio stories which have given away to headline feeds. Have we been distilling information to its crux or have we been throwing away substance in favor of speed and marketability?