Monday, August 07, 2006

Conservatives, Liberals and Hardheads

"A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time."
- Alfred E. Wiggam

"A liberal is a man who believes that misery should be spread equally."
- Mark Maresca

The terms conservative and liberal are labels. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with labels. Especially if they are applied to someone other than ourselves.

We need labels to help to identify others, how they think, whether they might present some risk to us or not. They are descriptives, words that help us to order our thoughts about people.

We usually use such labels about "others," not about ourselves or those who think like us.

Trouble arises when labels don't fit people. These particular labels don't fit any one person. Instead they fit concepts of groups of people. They are stereotypes.

Stereotypes, by their nature, are inevitably wrong when they are applied to individuals. Stereotypes are pejorative, their connotative meanings intended to express disapproval of whomever they are applied to.

To come full circle, the terms conservative and liberal are words of prejudice. Words of prejudice are used by people who are prejudiced.

People who are prejudiced devoutly deny their prejudice. To them, the way they think is perfectly acceptable and usually logical. Prejudiced people have loads of arguments at their disposal, though all their arguments are highly editorialized, one-sided.

Words of prejudice are fighting words, though they may be used like gossip or cheap shots by those who have no intention of stepping into a ring with those to whom they give their labels.

Too bad. While I am a devoted pacifist, I believe that no one deserves to be beaten more than people who are prejudiced. They are bullies who wear the cloak of decency to cover their cowardice.

Watch for the people who use the terms conservative and liberal. They don't justly apply to any one person, but they will tell you something about the people who use these words.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to reveal the bullies to those who are their innocent victims.
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