Conservatives, Can We Talk?

Really, we need to talk, because your world view is so distorted that I am beginning to have serious doubts about your sanity.

First there was the Republican debate in which you actually cheered execution.  Then, earlier this week, you actually cheered the notion of allowing someone to die because they didn’t have health insurance.  Oh, yes, and Ron Paul – are you listening?  You, sir, are a douche bag.  In fact, I think we need to make it clear right at the start that anyone who would cheer the suffering of death of another sentient being is a douche bag.  And, while we’re at it, let’s be clear that any human being – and, while it is debatable, for the purposes of our discussion here we’ll assume that politicians are human beings – who would be in a place where people cheered executions or suffering and death and not speak out is just as big a douche bag as the people doing the cheering.

By now some will say that I shouldn’t have used the term “douche bag.”  You’re probably right.  It’s unfair to disparage douche bags, which – unlike the people cheering and those who remain silent – actually have a purpose for their existence.  Others will say by using such language I am overstepping the limits of genteel discussion.  I would agree.  My problem is that when human beings actually cheer the demise of other human beings I think it’s a pretty fair assumption that the people doing the cheering are outside the bounds of genteel discussion already.  In fact, they are barely clinging to their humanity.

At the most basic level, those who cheer the suffering of another are absolutely devoid of empathy or compassion.  They lack the ability to walk in another’s shoes, even for a moment.  The really frightening thing about that lack is that it reflects an astonishing inability or unwillingness to engage in abstract thought.  In more direct terms, it means that such people are either dumb or deluded – or both.  Perhaps most distressing of all, these people vote and the people running for office are such whores that they are willing to compromise whatever moral principles they have to get those votes.  That would mean that the people running for office are either dumb or deluded – or both.  It’s not a pretty picture.

I can forgive people in their twenties and early thirties for being deluded about the commonality of human suffering.  There is something about that particular phase of human development that really needs to believe that human beings are invincible.  After all, if people starting out in their careers and/or raising a family had any idea of what was ahead in their lives no sane person would do either.  There comes a time, however, when we start to realize that maybe we aren’t indestructible after all.

For me, that time started when I was about thirty-five.  While it’s hard to believe it by looking at me now, I was a really active weekend warrior athlete.   When I was thirty-five I was playing softball two nights a week and umpiring it three nights a week.  I was playing golf at least once a week, often more.  I worked full-time and went to school full-time.  I was an animal.  Then everything started hurting more the day after – not enough to slow me down, but enough for me to notice.  Then it started to hurt on the second day.  By the time I was forty-five I had to have my shoulder surgically repaired and ankle reconstructed.  At fifty I had spinal fusion.  During that time I also saw my significantly younger wife have two major surgeries, and I saw her “sister-from-another-mister” transition at fifty-one.  It was a brutal education in both suffering and the reality that our bodies will all breakdown and eventually die – very often much sooner than we expected.

I’m not suggesting that my experience is unique at all – which is precisely why I find it absolutely inconceivable that conservatives seem to lack the ability to empathize or feel compassion.  They can’t possibly be so obtuse, or so socially isolated, that they don’t have friends or family members who are beginning to confront their own mortality.  Surely by age forty or so we all know someone who has passed away.  The only conclusion I can come to is that they just don’t give a damn, and that scares me.

Electing leaders who either lack compassion themselves or are so morally bankrupt that they are willing to sell out to those who do will mean that the decisions made by the legislative and executive branches of our government will also lack anything even remotely resembling a moral code.  How ironic is it that the religious vision that is the foundation of conservative politics is conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity?

Actually, it’s not ironic at all because conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity is a profoundly selfish expression of religion that lacks any coherent spiritual foundation. The emphases of that particular religious perspective is entirely on the individual – my salvation, my “personal relationship with Jesus,” and, perhaps most frightening and morally bankrupt of all, my personal and political power.  The blinders worn by these pseudo-Christians could easily be the stuff mental health journals.  They use Jesus for their salvation and then steadfastly ignore everything else hat Jesus taught, did, or said.  They read their scriptures though such feces-colored lenses that they fail to see that Jesus was profoundly critical of the religious leaders of his day precisely because they colluded with the political authorities to oppress the people.  If hypocrisy were an art form, these people would all be Picasso.

Now more than ever, those of us who actually are able to function on an abstract level must speak out.  We cannot remain silent.  For as much as moderate to progressive people are reluctant to appear to be evangelizing, we can no longer remain silent.  We much shout from the roof tops that there are no sentient beings who can be allowed to suffer and die while others stand by and not only fail to act but also actually cheer their demise.  One simply cannot claim to be a spiritual or religious person and cheer suffering – there is no spiritual system short of Satanism that would support such a position.

If moderate people fail to raise their voices and fight against this nonsense with their feet and their votes and voices now, the day will soon come when we are forced to take up arms and fight.  I don’t think any of us wants to see that happen, but how ironic is it that the very party that in the last election was decrying the alleged “death panels” they universal health care would bring about are now proving themselves only to willing to serve on very real death panels?

I’m ashamed to be an American right now.

5 thoughts on “Conservatives, Can We Talk?

  1. Bishop Craig, both your understanding and your outrage seems sorely selective, Candidates for the Republican nomination are running for President of the United States, an entity to be governed by the rule of law (civil and secular), with the United States Constitution as supreme law of the land.

    That Constitution is predicated on the Declaration of Independence wherein the Founders (brilliantly, methinks) acknowledged and proclaimed that each human being is born with and to unalienable (from the Creator) rights, e.g., life, liberty, and property (from whence derives the pursuit of happiness). The Constitution had two flaws, slavery and tariffs, that because each proscribed liberty.

    We the People — each possessing an unalienable right to self-defense of our life, liberty, and property — granted authority to the federal government to defend our unalienable rights collectively as each of us had right to do individually . . . no more and no less. Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the 18 things the government may do toward that end.

    If executions in Texas are judicially ordered for purpose of providing defense of life and liberty for the innocent, they are legally and Constitutionally proper. If one cannot pay for medical treatment or groceries or a car or a house, the government may not legally and Constitutionally steal by force the life, the liberty, and/or the property of others to pay for said. That is why there were cheers. The “death panels” (hidden in an earlier spending bill, so as to obfuscate) are to prohibit a citizen from paying either directly or via insurance for a medical procedure he or she wishes. That is a violation BY GOVERNMENT of its sole duty.

    It seems to me, Bishop Craig, that your God loves and values charity, but not the robbing of Pete to Pay Paul, whether by individuals or by government acting on their behalf.

    Please write about James Hoffa Jr. and the tacit approval of his statements by President Obama. Please write about the books and films portraying an assassination of President Bush (43). Please write about, “If they bring a knife, we’ll bring a gun.”

    1. Dr. Pete

      It simply should not be necessary to, as you suggest, “rob Pete to pay Paul.” Motivated not by greed or materialism but by the basic human (as opposed to religious) values of compassion and empathy, it should not be necessary to force one human being to help another. That having been said, we “rob Pete to pay Paul” all the time. It’s called the taxation, and it is a necessary part of running a government. It’s used to pay for both good things like infrastructure as well as things that in my mind are evil – the death penalty among them, but also Imperialist first strike wars and the exponential expansion of Government under Bush II. I find it ironic that conservatives tout small government as a virtue when it helps them avoid helping other people, but absolutely love large government when they imagine it will help them preserve their materialistic wealth – Homeland Security, the TSA, the military, and bailing out banks and corporations.

      The Declaration of Independence you bring up – and rather distort by saying the preamble includes property as an inalienable right, equating property to the pursuit of happiness – applies not just to the wealthy but to the economically disadvantaged as well. How, precisely, can one pursue happiness while being executed or watching their children suffer and die because they don’t have equal access to medical care? The Constitution you hold up also, I would hasten to point out, allows for freedom of speech. That includes making films, even about objectionable subjects. Surely you wouldn’t do violence to the Constitution by applying it selectively? Further, it holds to an amount of personal privacy, something we have seen systematically reduced under Bush II and Homeland Security.

      Regarding “death panels,” and assuming you are a physician, you well know we have them already under the guise of managed care health insurance – the plan that most conservative politicians seem to prefer to continue. Managed care decides what treatment a patient will receive and what the physician or other health care profession will receive for reimbursement. That’s hardly free market capitalism, is it?

      The reason we see the world differently is that, to me, there are values that trump even the Constitution and values such as free market capitalism. Do no murder. Love your neighbor. Live with compassion. I find the story of the Good Samaritan to be an apt metaphor for our times. Greed rules the day, and it seems many of us have confused our “independence” with the right to step on whomever we need to as long as we can move ahead financially.


  2. Bishop Craig, both your understanding and your outrage seems sorely selective . . . even in your response to me. Your blogpost seems to come more from progressive ideology than gospel. I’ll now leave you alone and not again intrude.

  3. Dr. Pete,

    I don’t understand how you feel my response to you contained outrage in any way. Your response to me was based not in the Gospel, but on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I offered my perspective on those points. My intent was not to drive you away, and I do not believe I attacked you in any way. I would hasten to point out that the Gospel is not a conservative manifesto, nor is it a progressive manifesto. Rather it is a spiritual and humanistic manifesto of sorts. Jesus profoundly challenged the status quo and the religious and temporal leaders of his day. Though our perspectives differ, I absolutely believe you are entitled to yours. At the same time, my perspective requires that I not remain silent in the face of death, suffering, or callous indifference to either. My hope would be not that we have as our goal conversion of the other, but rather mutual understanding.

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