(by Stephen Michael Murphy)
Who knows where it starts, maybe in the womb, maybe it’s a reaction of tiny lungs to that first mind blowing breath or maybe our first outcry is a political statement. Each and every one of us is born fragile, sensitive and totally dependent. We react to life based on our circuitry, our environment and since we’re spirit made flesh there is a recoil. Little average Joey begins responding in varying degrees of feeling participation or avoidance in his life process. There’s the overlay of mother, father, birth order, siblings, teachers, institutions, the world etc. It’s subtle at first but his responses will soon become tendencies and eventually the emotional avenues he will travel for a lifetime. With endless possible outcomes monikers like liberal and conservative are but broad strokes to express a wide range of differences in our personal development.
With that said conservatism is the most basic posture of human beings. Webster’s defines conservative as preservative, marked by moderation or caution and tending toward maintaining existing conditions, traditional. These are human and family qualities we all share. Who hasn’t sought to preserve his home or doesn’t appreciate the axiom “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”. Since our bodies are 70% water and vulnerable to a host of maladies, moderation in all things is an invaluable life lesson. While fiscal conservatism is plain common sense (a sense we’ve ignored), I myself am a physical conservative; I plan to live forever, so far so good. With the exception of skateboarders attempting 1080’s, skydivers free falling 8 miles into active volcanoes, 13 year old extreme mountaineers scaling Everest, Hezbollah driving NASCAR, day trading at night and subprime mortgage brokers lending to farm animals, I think we all can agree. Caution is a wise thing.
Meanwhile sitting in our perceived comfort zone the universe makes us continuous offers to grow beyond our conservative nature. It’s a quantum Facebook friend request and you have to be very careful, accepting some, ignoring others based on how much inner space travel you’re willing to do. The conventional path has been that over time the sum of our experience solidifies into opinions then beliefs become a world view. We slowly graduate through the lower levels of existence dealing mostly with our fear. A lot like Albert Brooks in “Defending Your Life”. The higher stages of being are the subject for another blog, in a future time after Jerry Springer is finally cancelled.
Progressives usually strive to move beyond their conservative roots and that’s where the bumpy road needs to take us. Since the U.S. economy is an expression of our lower nature i.e. rampant greed, the next deal will form (after the hard lessons) as a hybrid technological and social engine with a more equitable balance than its predecessor. Today’s world is already teeming with mature individuals who have less fear, more empathy and broader vision than any time in human history. They are equally and vehemently opposed by those with resistance as their cornerstone. I think in their heart of hearts social conservatives know we’ve walked in their shoes while they haven’t walked in ours. It’s like trying to tell someone about rock n roll and that’s a problem. Most great minds are open, sensitive and progressive, not conservative. The new innovative ideas we need will come from a fluid space; originality is less available to people with fixed view points. The exception would be intellectual, scientific focus which produces amazing things but can also limit personal growth. Since all the advanced degrees in the world won’t improve your emotional IQ, it’s difficult to explain to someone with years of experience, status and/or education that they aren’t the finished product they presume to be. Having recoiled from the flow of life probably in their earliest years, they defend a soft emotional underbelly with surprising force and a mega church membership. Life isn’t easy for those well armed young souls sporting a black and white mindset in a technicolor world. So since one size never fits all, nature furnishes every human being with an equalizing experience (or two) that frustrates and challenges everything we believe on the road to Damascus. It’s called a personal crisis and that’s when we really need to listen.
The one event that rocks the foundation of our very being, usually death defying, can bring about a rapid conversion. The bonus is the universe gives credit for life experience. The result is the beast inside is shaken not stirred as our threshold for resistance collapses. Untapped compassion and empathy then rises from the subconscious to be acknowledged or you will be given no peace. Quite ingenious really since we all have crises and they work best on those who resist the most. In my 30’s, I ran ultra marathon distance too far, too fast and didn’t listen until I became sick. My illness was system wide and pre clinical or as one health practitioner called it an “astral blowout”. I could either become sensitive and responsible for my negative behaviors or become ill again. I got the point, pain is quite the motivator. I was lucky, for some a cancer diagnosis or another catastrophic illness could be the first real wake up call, unfortunately it can be too much too late.
A born again conversion in the opposite direction happened when the “greatest generation” defected from the Democratic Party electing Ronald Reagan in 1980. These we’re lifelong social democrats who owed their middle class status to the policies of FDR, legislation like the Sherman anti-trust act limiting corporate power and the Wagner act giving workers the right to organize. Their parents had lived through a contentious period of labor unrest and strikes that brought about these hard earned social reforms. As a result their children’s lives improved dramatically in the post war decades, to such a profound degree that they eventually spurned the core values that created the middle class and replaced them with a well oiled “aw-shucks” illusion of privilege. So while gentleman Jimmy Carter rocked on his veranda in Plains, the once meager offspring of the great depression voted against the American worker and fired the first shot in support of a globalist agenda. They were convinced to vote against their own best interest. Today, their red faces are on Fox News raising their blood pressure over immigration, health insurance, etc. like they’re the real Americans instead of recent descendants of the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I have a relative who spins negative yarns about universal healthcare and climate change without a second thought for the millions of Americans with no access to treatment or the human cost of turning proven science into a political joke.
The ultimate question is under what conditions do you want to meet your maker? Trying to show compassion for all beings or just compassion for your own being? As imperfect as it is, the former is the progressive path. Jerry Rubin said “politics isn’t who you vote for its how you live your life”. The spirit way of adapting (not recoiling) to life’s circumstance has always been the offer. It’s never too late (call now operators are standing by) to embrace what’s next with an open, loving heart and maybe balance your karmic budget in the process.