• Posted: Aug 25, 2008 17:52:30
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One of the right wing pans on liberal politics is that tolerance and accommodation is functionally equivalent to relativistic valuelessness, a cacophonous dissonance bordering on absolute anarchy. The view from the left is that Biblically grounded moralistic conservatism is the functional equivalent of intellectual imprisonment bordering on totalitarian Fascism. Each side views the other as an exceedingly dark cloud threatening an otherwise optimistic horizon. Each side believes that if only their values, their principles were to prevail skies would in deed be forever blue in all directions.
The problem with a debate framed in this manner is the presumption of comprehensiveness, that rules once set will comprehensively accommodate all possible outcomes. Hence the expectation of blue skies. But the world is not simple. And simplistic rules of thumb simply do not cover all the complications. As a glaring example, witness the profound mess the Bush administration has made of nearly everything it's set its simple thinking mind to.
The national political debate needs to be reframed. There are many ways to get almost everywhere, some painful, some less so. Nearly all of us want a future of blue skies, a future of good consequences, not bad. But few things are perfect, least of all our predictive skills. We must first set our goals clearly. Then, choose our path prudently and seriously monitor the actual consequences we are achieving. Finally, we must be intellectually prepared to make any and all adjustments needed to achieve our goals.
Are we capable of that? Yes, we are. Promises are only another form of simple-think that set us up for disappointment. But commitment, on the other hand, is money in the bank. People committed to work together to achieve a goal, no matter what adjustment in course proves necessary, will seldom fail. Witness the recent success of the Chinese people staging the Olympics. Simple-think blue sky politics needs to be abandoned. In its stead we need a politics of earnest commitment, commitment to each other in service of achieving our very many not so simple goals.
Wouldn't it be nice to have our grandchildren look back on us with awe and appreciation for the commitment we made to each other and to them?
Sunday, August 10th, 2008
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