Monday, January 28, 2008

Please Leash Your Conservative


It has been stated, concerning many things, “Ignorance is the source of irrational Fear.” A man possessed by irrational and ignorance-based motivations, typically conservative by his nature and rejecting change out of some self-centered principle, becomes like the ill-mannered dog that howls at the vacuum cleaner simply because it makes a noise the he or she doesn’t like. The dog does not realize the ultimate purpose or benefit of the ‘evil’ machine or that it is, barring the accidental insertion of the errant tail or chew toy, a relatively harmless tool producing a loud but equally harmless tumult. The canine perceives itself under immanent attack from the noisy thing being pushed around the living room, and must bark in order to secure his own survival. This, in spite of the fact that its loving human companion, who it loyally trusts and loves, operates that very same diabolical thing of doggy destruction it fears most. It might take years of rigorous training to cure the dog from this behavior.

Similarly, the politically and socially conservative mongrel incessantly yelps out a fear-laden warning, crying out his mantra of ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘small government’ at any attempt that a society makes to help those in dire straits, be it of their own doing or as a result of being victimized by forces, natural or mega-corporate. He does not see the person crushed by natural disaster, poverty, war, greed, or physical or emotional illness as a victim, but as a major contributor to his or her own demise through lack of foresight or indolence. This dog thinks himself as the real victim, mercilessly hunted by those who threaten his very survival by showing the unmitigated gall to expect him to offer help others of his own breed. Somehow, to this conservative-type canine-like creature, the humming sounds and undertones of other organisms organizing through the power of government to assist fellow citizens in establishing a better sense of well-being and security is an anathema to his biological functioning. Like the dog who cannot share a food dish without snarling, he cannot feel safe or happy in a world where he is asked to relinquish one inch of ‘his’ territory or realm for the sake of another. This ill-tempered and paranoid beast imagines itself to be the true ‘victim’.

(In shelters, those types of dogs are usually put down, albeit humanely.)

The conservative position on most issues is symptomatic of this territorial ‘dog’ syndrome. They inject into the approach, diagnosis, and solution to social ills and their root causes nothing more than their own personal likes and dislikes. The sole concern is only insofar as what they fear it will cost them should we, heaven forbid, actually begin to treat social problems as diseases to be treated rather than as a crimes to be punished or markets to be exploited. In the fervor to maintain ‘principle’, as the old dog that adamantly refuses to learn even one new trick, the conservative fails to see that his justifications for such ‘principled’ stands cost taxpayers much more than would the clinical approach. He also denies that such a program could possible ever affect him or his loved ones for the better. Don’t ever bother arguing the point either, since he can’t hear you over the din of his own incessant barking.

There is also no compromising with such a creature. We cannot say to this dog "Hey, Buddy. I won't be giving him ALL of your food and not all the time. Just a little now and then is enough." Dogs cannot add or subtract on that level. This is why conservative ‘principles’ always entail all-or-nothing views with little room for maneuvering. Even should you explain that sharing allows him to partake of the system if it ever becomes necessary, should he not attack you outright, he will close off his ears and attentions before sulking off to lick his ‘wounds’. The fight-or-flight threat level of fear they manifest is wholly irrational and that fear, though a biologically fundamental function in all humans, could be brought under some rational control if other higher thinking and functioning human beings were doing the dog training.

The greatest myth that our conservative canine companion suffers from is that it believes that what it eats or possesses was made possible by its efforts alone. It thinks the food in that dish is either all the food there is to be had or, that his sharing of he dish means that he would be losing ‘his’ coveted dish altogether. This dog doesn’t realize that it is the careful planning and preparation of rational humans that provides it with a meal and warm shelter. It has no idea that the compassionate and caring human gives freely of his time, money, and ease to keep it safe and happy. It has no idea that sharing is what brought about its ‘success’ and he need not be fearful should that sharing seek out more ‘success’ in other venues.

It would not matter were one to spend a little or a lot of money on social programs like public education or national health care. Size is a meaningless measure. To the anxiety-driven conservative hound, should even a leashed and docile miniature breed of much lesser stature, that poses no threat at all, pass by ‘his’ yard, the much bigger and aggressive pooch will be pressed against the fence, frothing at the mouth with violent rage. Those kinds of canines cannot distinguish big from small, in the same way they can never seem to tell costly from truly efficient or productive.

Well, it's about time to vacuum the house.