You see, when Martin Luther King Jr. began to march and protest for a race of people to be treated equally, fair minded Americans agreed. His premise was rooted in truth. A great injustice had been inflicted for too long. Even though the man himself certainly battled his own sins, as we all do, his message of truth shinned like a beacon of light. Since our founders original premise for government was grounded in natural law, most people could no longer accept the lie that an entire race of people were in some way inferior based on the color of their skin. And so the words and actions of King like, being judged by the content of their character, exposing the fraud of separate but equal, and standing up for something as simple, yet powerful, as a seat on a bus; became a prime example of using truth to battle over a hundred years of struggle.
The same has happened in my life. I have discovered some truths. I titled this blog weeks ago when I had an entirely different angle in mind. I kept it because it serves a purpose, and I didn't think, Confessions from a Conservative Leaning Guy, had the same title worthy impact.
Since deciding on the title, Confessions from a Conservative, I have learned a thing or two about how we view ourselves in this volatile time in American history. You see, I am not a Conservative. That statement does not define who I am. I am not a liberal, nor have I ever been. These type of identity politics statements allow us to get offended when another does not think as we do. If I am something, and you disagree, you have made it personal and now I am hurt, or claim you to be a hater. It also doesn't define me since there was no point in my past that I had some type of transplant that turned me from a liberal to a conservative. Certainly it wasn't as if I had to have some or all of my brain removed or replaced when I thought I had discovered some truths in socialism only to settle on becoming a libertarian for a spell in my late twenties. It was a journey in truth.That being said, although my mind has closed on certain truths, some of what I believe could still change if presented with evidence to the contrary.
Let me give you some examples. On the issue of healthcare, I would have stood up and said I was wrong if the Affordable Healthcare Act had accomplished cheaper rates, better care, and coverage for everyone. I am still open to ideas from both sides of the aisle to bring the costs down, help the helpless, and hold the clueless accountable. Although I am a conservative, oops, I mean I have conservative leaning ideals, I have an altruistic outlook on our society. My beef is where that help comes from, not that we don't help people.
On the issue of school choice, I have yet to read anything from the other side that convinces me that this is a bad idea. I am grateful that the dialogue has stopped being about Betty DeVos and I now can read articles from the other side of the issue on why they disagree with school choice. I want to have that conversation, not listen to a bunch of hyperbole about what a horrible person our new Secretary of Education is, and how she somehow is going to bring the entire system down. News flash! We have some serious issues in getting our kids a high school diploma. I want to listen, but hateful rhetoric will not solve our problem with failing schools. Just remember, I may not change my mind, yet we can still walk away friends.
I have seen many posts about the school choice issue from my former professor. She is concerned that her entire life's work is being questioned. That what she has done will be for nothing. I disagree. Her passion and drive made me and others she taught push ourselves as educators beyond our own expectations. I am the teacher I am today because of her. And we couldn't disagree more on political issues. However, we found common ground on our love for educating young people. Our conflicting philosophy on where education is best served only shows that we both want what is best for the students. There's a confession for you, this conservative leaning guy does want public education to work, but finds nothing wrong with "a parent's right to choose" is this arena.
Now on to truth. Jesus Christ is divine. He was not just a human that walked the earth and shared a philosophy of living that works for some. He is the true God. Now, I certainly don't feel the need to round up those that think differently and force them to accept this or die. It is through love and my actions that I will try and convince others of this truth. "Always be preaching the gospel," Saint Francis said, "and sometimes you might have to use words." That also does not mean I cannot be friends with someone who is Jewish. If I really got down to what they truly believe, a Jew would call Jesus a fraud, but that is where true tolerance comes in. The word itself means I'm not going to like what is being said or believed, and that I need to still love the person as Christ taught me. His teachings are quite clear on this point. Certainly I fall short of this principle to love others as myself; however, I have a loving God in my life that has given me enough grace to allow for progress, not perfection.
Another truth is that abortion is evil. I can state that truth and still sympathize with those that struggle with what to do in all kinds of difficult situations. Each time this subject comes up with a person with liberal leaning views always wants to know if I plan on throwing the woman in jail. This has never even crossed my mind, nor has it been any type of discussion that I've had with my conservative leaning friends. Of course, after reading that some liberal thinkers felt we needed to punish climate change deniers, I see why this is always the first question. And since we are on the topic of science, I will state that it has only strengthened my position that a life is being ended. I do not write this to offend, although many will feel that way, but because it is true. This is a case of speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves. This is where God will judge the human race even more harshly than those that supported slavery. I can't find a way around this one.
Pope Benedict said that moral relativism is the biggest problem facing the world today. Considering how screwed up so many things are in some many areas, that is a rather bold statement. If we all have our own truth than really truth doesn't exist at all. In fact, it robs us of meaning in life. I have fallen prey to this kind of thinking. By telling you that you can do whatever you want in life, I am saying your life has no purpose. Really, it doesn't matter what you do because there is nothing you can contribute to this world. It is the devil at work. Convince us that anything goes so that we never make any difference in another persons life. It's a greater trick than the one where we think he doesn't even exist. It wasn't until I became a teacher and found that I no longer yearned to be something else, that I saw God's work in action. I followed some crazy ideas on faith that it was what the Holy Spirit was calling me to do, and found that true happiness is not what I want to do, but what I was created to do.
The beauty of having Jesus in my life is that I now have a purpose. When I thought I had to be good because it was some sort of cosmic law, I discovered I struggled not to sin. I couldn't keep myself from sinning. But when I developed a relationship with God I found it easier not to sin. In some cases I didn't even think about it. I didn't want to be a disappointment to my creator. It was important that I not break our relationship because it was based on love. He was my rock and sin would keep me separated from Him. It wasn't Jesus shutting me out, but instead it was me, through sin, separating myself from Him. The joy and happiness I experienced in life was evidence enough of how much better my life went when I was close to God.
What I have experienced is not that I no longer commit any sin, but that I long to become more holy because I am becoming more and more convinced that trusting what God has planned for me is infinitely more than I could ever want for myself. The real confession here is not that I am a conservative, or that I have conservative leaning ideas, but that there is something bigger than political ideology or more than where I stand on a certain issue. Much of what I believe has changed or might change in the future. We can all still stand and discuss our differences in a way that leads to listening first, so that we might find common ground. But what really shapes me is more than an I am statement, unless, of course, that I am statement is that I am a child of God.
God Bless... oh, and God Bless America