Saturday, March 14, 2015

Left vs Right, 47 and Servers, Worldview

G.O.P. Letter by Republican Senators Is Evidence of ‘Decline,’ Iranian Says -

The past few weeks a number of issues have yet again fanned the flames between those that see the world from the left hand and those that see it from the right. The 47 Senators Letter and Hillary's e-mail server getting the most attention, but shootings in Ferguson,  Walker being asked to comment on BO's Christianity, the ongoing "Global Warming" are also present. The animosity and sometimes downright hatred and craziness is always burning between Americans on the left and right, and it seems more often to be blazing of late again.

I'm about 1/2 through a re-read of "A Conflict of Visions"(Thomas Sowell), my favorite book on the topic, and about 3/4 way through "Suicide of the West" -- a good summary of "liberalism" and it's effects circa 1964. No doubt I'll comment more on both to come. Anytime I take up this topic, I also like to mention "The Righteous Mind".

When we are faced with issues like the 47 Senator letter or Hillary's e-mails, we see how profoundly our world views vary between husband/wife, family members, friends, etc. We see the "facts" in TOTALLY different ways, and most of us are at a loss to understand WHY?? We ask; "How can "they" possibly see the same things so differently???"

The core reason boils down to "Worldview" -- the filter / colored glasses / model that we see the world through. It is to some degree wired into our brains (as Haidt covers),  and largely developed through a life of family, education,  church, reading, thinking, etc (also in opposition to those inputs) The facts of the variance in the worldview are well documented by Sowell in "Visions".

To grossly simplify the two world views in the US today, we have:
  1. "Liberal" -- The dominant US view. Most of the media, education, etc. Democrat. "Man is born free but is everywhere in chains "(Rousseau) Tradition is suspect, often considered wrong. People are born as good. Education, laws, government, experts, etc can solve any problem. RIGHTS, Change, Justice are big liberal words.
  2. "Conservative" -- “Prudence is not only the first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director and regulator, the standard of them all.”(Burke) The opposition, Republican. Man is born sinful, "redemption" is required, normally by religion, in addition, self control,  rewards and punishments (sanctions) and lots of individual work are needed. Responsibility, Tradition, Freedom are big words. 
These positions should be seen on a "range" -- nobody is entirely in one camp or the other, and there have and always will be disagreements between them. But why so vehement now? 

Up until the 20th century, and even through at least the 60's, Americans had a couple big elements of a SHARED worldview -- heavily built around Christianity and the Constitution. People could disagree on many things, but over 90% mostly agreed that both Christianity and the Constitution were "sacred" -- they were "above the fray".  "All decent people" could agree on the "basic tenets" ... God as creator, Christ as Savior, Separation of Powers, Limits on Federal Government, etc.

We are far more divided by worldview now than ever before in our history. Even during the Civil War, we were divided on the ISSUE of Slavery, but reverence for Christianity and the Constitution was much more generally present in the country that in is now. 

But we no longer have those points of agreement. The Constitution may state that an agreement with a foreign power has to be ratified by the Senate to be binding, but there are a lot of people that don't care and are completely angered when it is brought up. One might point to MANY times that congressmen and senators ACTUALLY "negotiated with a foreign power" rather than sent a letter quoting the facts of the Constitution. It makes no difference. "They have a right to their own OPINION" ... and as even the NYTs has discovered, pretty much anything but 2+2 is just "opinion" these days, and in the absence of a higher standard, "all opinions are valid".

John Adams called the situation perfectly when he said:
"Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other,".   Indeed. 

In order to hold truths to be "self evident" and consider man as "endowed by his creator with unalienable rights",  a people MUST believe in a "creator" and that there is such a thing as "truth". Take the sacred away,  thus making "man the measure of all things" and we are reduced to that measure being the ballot box or the bullet. We are left with no common worldview on which "all decent people" agree and can therefore discuss things rationally from a shared perspective. 

What we have are increasingly divergent world views that can be "settled" only temporarily and intermittently at the ballot box, but increasingly are UNsettled with unrest up to and including violence as we have just seen in Ferguson, and earlier in NYC with the two police being murdered. 

As we ignore the Constitution, even elections become meaningless -- an executive and decree that immigrants are legal, the Internet must be regulated, agreements are treaties, or effectively ANYTHING since he is no longer bound by an oath to uphold that once sacred document. When one party decides that the only thing sacred is political power, then there is no remaining foundation on which to base a country. 

So as tribes prior to the recognition of one God above all, and the subsequent march from Christ though the rise of Western Civilization, we fight. We fight "as the flies of summer" (Burke) -- alienated from God, our own history, and morality beyond "our side must win"!  For the present,  we go on feeding on the carcass of the once great civilization we were bequeathed, but with little remaining understanding of the founding principles needed for it's continued operation.

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