Doing our part to elevate 2020
Since I am composing this column on Sunday afternoon, I do not know how the impeachment trial has unfolded. I do, however, know that this week, which began with Martin Luther King Day, was followed by a presidential impeachment trial pregnant with archetypal significance.
While much lot could be said about this, I choose to restrict myself to what strikes me as the core issue bringing us to this point, which is the sharp, uncompromising divide between the two camps, liberal and conservative.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am a liberal. How liberal? I voted for George McGovern in 1972, but am leaning to Michael Bennet in 2020. This shift from far left to center left is probably a reflection of my desire to see things stabilize in the next few years, rather than overhauling many systems, however worthy that goal may be. It’s also probably an indication I am much older now than I was in 1972!
So to the Great Divide. Rather than cite chapter and verse in describing the two camps, I am going to point to solutions.
The basic conflict is over how the two camps see a human being and how they see government. Liberals (the godless baby killer caricature aside) take a more spiritual view of their fellow humans. A person is worthy of respect because he or she is a human. In a discussion with a conservative, the better liberal will listen through the prism of his or her true self, rather than from an egocentric perspective. Simultaneously, a liberal will listen to the ego that is speaking, while keeping in mind there is a true self beneath, that may be hiding because of the wounds and limitations of the speaker. The liberal sees the role of government as an instrument to alleviate suffering.
This is an opinion column, so here is my opinion. A conservative (the racist caricature aside) sees government as a necessity, existing solely to protect the nation from our enemies and to collect taxes. Alleviating suffering may be among the personal values of a conservative, but they see the vehicle for that as being through churches, neighborhood organizations, neighbors, friends and personal effort. When they speak to a liberal, they tend to be speaking as one ego to another. I acknowledge this is a generalization, to which there may be many exceptions.
It’s important to note the tinkering with social structures that we liberals do, would be very risky, without the stabilizing strength of the conservatives. They keep the show on the road, while we liberals envision a better world and try to create it. Both sides need each other. These thoughts should help liberals not to view all conservatives as progress-blocking, shallow money grubbers, and to prevent conservatives from viewing liberals as breezy mendicants sucking on the public dole.
As a concluding unscientific postscript, in the kingdom of god justice does not mean that we each have what is rightfully ours; rather justice means that I would prefer that you have what is rightfully mine. May we all do our part to elevate 2020.
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.