Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On left and right

When I first set up this blog, I assumed that political stances were a spectrum, with Liberal on one side and Conservative on the other. I had further assumed that I tended to slide back and forth on this spectrum, now little pink, now baby blue, now and then no color at all.
I've come to question this. It is, after all, a very one-dimensional way of looking at things.
There's a classic treatise called Flatland, that discusses, among other things, how the world must look to two-dimensional beings. They can see left and right, but not over. Wonderful discussion, and I think it might apply to political thought.
How, for instance, can I be at the same time an environmentalist and a hunter? A conservative who wants universal health care? A man who understands why fundamentalists do the things they do but would waste the whole tribe anyway?
I have a friend who believes the earth is 6000 years old. We go outside and see clearly, the striations in the landscape, the buckling of the earth, the eons-old erosion patterns, the seashells at 7000 feet. What about them? A cosmic quiz; God did it to test our faith.
If I'm liberal, I see things as a liberal sees them, in one dimension (ditto conservative, of course).
I think in order to see things straight, we need to see them widely, rather than narrowly.


Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

In my youth I was left of Mahatma Ghandi. In my late 20's I worked for Mormon owned construction company and was exposed to views right of Attila the Hun.

I was shocked in my early days in New Mexico to find myself denouncing the tree huggers I had previous embraced when they took a stand against harvesting dead and down from the Carson National forest which because of Smokey the Bear was ripe for a devastating fire. And we got it. Twelve years ago the fire burned so hot it set ground speed records and so scorched the earth it has not yet recovered.

I also fought the environmentalists on duck hunters. Hey, that particular group has saved us wetlands.

Even though I fall on many issues to the left of center - sometimes alarmingly left - I have come to call myself a centralist. I see social democracy as a more obtainable goal than socialism or democracy in their purest forms.

And if the right and the left are going to barricade themselves in their corners how will informed compromise ever be reached.

I definitely agree with your blog

On both your houses said...

I don't think you are a centerist. I think you are a person who thinks things through, and makes a rational decision. And an artist too!