The infographic does a very good job at demonstrating the beliefs, focuses, goals, and views of the left vs. the right. It is fair and non-biased, and though it certainly portrays political stereotypes, it does the best job possible at focusing on the core thoughts and values of both sides. I am sharing all of this because of the apparent lack of knowledge as to what conservative vs. liberal politics actually represent; far too often I find that people are glued to one side or the other not because of their personal beliefs, but instead because of a series of less important outside influences. In the past I have been guilty of this as well, but I’ve since learned how rewarding it is to define your own political stance from your true core beliefs, instead of following the crowd.
Political Pride Yields Ignorance
Political awareness and discovery does not necessarily require you to always keep up on current events, nor always be aware of the laws currently running through congress. A knowledge of these things can often be a big help, but one does not need to know the current state of the system in order to decide for himself or herself what he or she believes to be the right way to approach different political topics. What is mandatory, however, is simply to be able to set your past reservations regarding the political parties aside and instead evaluate them based on their true core views, rather than your upbringing or your surroundings.
I will define political pride as a blind appreciation, following, and upholding of either conservative or liberal politics based on the sense of “belonging” to one of the respective political parties. One cannot gain a true understanding of the core beliefs of either party without being able to set this “political pride” aside. This is harder for some than it might seem, as we are often taught to embed this political pride, ironically, deep into our core beliefs. But one cannot even begin to grasp the personally perceived advantages or disadvantages of either side without a politically open mind.
Call for a Spiritual Awakening
One of the biggest influences on this “political pride” discussed above is the church, most often pushing towards conservatism. This influence sometimes comes from the leaders of the church, but more often comes from the church’s members and the perceived need for them to choose and encourage particular political views, while frowning on others. Somewhere along the line it became popular among church members to lean heavily to the conservative side, perhaps influenced by conservative leaders who claim to be spiritually focused.
The misconception here, though, is that typical spiritual core beliefs (particularly Christian views) fit significantly better with conservatism than liberalism. In fact, there is little to no correlation between conservatism and Christian core beliefs; it often even appears to be the opposite. One of the prime examples is the theme of self-sacrifice that Christ consistently demonstrates in the Bible and that Christianity not only encourages but requires; conservatism preaches a heavy focus on “helping those who help themselves” (a quote from the above referenced infographic), while liberalism leans more towards “helping those who cannot help themselves.” Furthermore, conservatism focuses on exclusivity and nationalism, both of which do not play well with Christ’s humility-based and “least of these” teachings.
The list of conflicts between conservatism and Christianity go on and on, from conservatism’s focus on judgement (which Christ clearly preaches against) to conservatism’s resistance to change (while Christ set forth to change most of the laws of his time). In all of these topics (as well as many additional topics), liberalism, though flawed in respect to Christ’s teachings, comes significantly closer to the concepts that Christ taught than conservatism. In fact, it is easy to argue that liberalism in general follows Christian views significantly better than conservatism does. It is odd, then, that we find that conservatism seems to be more popular within the church than liberalism, which I believe is a sign of mass ignorance on the subject.
I would present some arguments in the opposite direction as well, but it is surprisingly difficult to come up with an honest argument supporting the concept that conservatism is closer to Christianity than liberalism. The topics that seem to consistently come up are Christians’ views on abortion and homosexuality, which, traditionally conservatism does support better than liberalism. These matches, however, are almost certainly outweighed by conservatism’s traditional views on capital punishment and war, neither of which fit with Christ’s core teachings.
Neither Perfect Nor Evil
Obviously, neither party is likely to ever perfectly represent our personal views. In fact, if we find that our views align perfectly with either party, perhaps we should step back and observe the situation to see if our views are simply the result of belonging to a political party, or if they’re truly a core belief that we’ve come to ourselves. At the same time, neither party is inherently evil, as often seems to be argued both inside and outside of the church. Both parties will have positive and negative qualities to the educated mind (though clearly one party will be more prevalent than the other). It is important to be able to see past the blind hatred that we often have for the opposite political party, simply so that we are able to improve ourselves and our beliefs.
There are most definitely absolute truths in this world, but to package a random set of believed truths and values into a box for people to adopt, believe, and be proud of is at least a little bit disconcerting. Perhaps even more disconcerting, however, is that many people will take this package, accept it as truth, preach it, and refuse to believe anything else for their entire lives, without examining it and truly grasping any of the concepts as their own. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding politics, but if one chooses to argue political concepts, it is important for them to have examined their political stances deeper than to examine a particular political party. I believe that our current political parties, as well as many adopters, often push for this blind style of following, which is more damaging both to our country and to individuals themselves than is immediately prevalent.
Call To Action
I would like to propose that we step back and re-evaluate our political stances not based on our currently affiliated political party, but rather based on our core beliefs. Truly, they cannot be completely separated, but we may find that our current political beliefs and/or the politics that we support do not match our internal core views. We may also find that we are judging a particular political party for the wrong reasons, or we might find that we are unnecessarily passionate or impartial to a particular political subject, simply because of our surroundings. We must always keep an open mind to the other side, and refrain from eliminating a possibly intelligent perspective simply because of the label that comes with it.
I am very interested in your responses both to support or oppose arguments for similarities and/or conflicts between Christianity and liberalism and/or conservatism, and your observations as to how the public interprets, applies, and argues politics both inside and outside of the church. I see this as a crucial discussion, because typically it seems people are either too scared to bring it up or tend to address it in a judgmental or condescending light. Please let me know your thoughts.