Being a conservative is good for your brain
"Iron sharpening iron" still applies just as much now as it did when Proverbs was written
Sometimes I wish life were as easy for me as a conservative as it seems to be for liberals. Here are some of the reasons why:
I wouldn’t need to really defend my arguments, and no one would put me on blast for being unable to do so. I’ve been in places where no one challenges what I think, and I don’t like it. How will I expose myself to new thoughts if no one’s asking me challenging questions? What new ideas will I have to ponder if I don’t have a good-faith conversation with someone who doesn’t agree with me? This was why I loved doing policy debate in high school: Everyone was on the same larger team, but everyone’s goal was, at the end of the day, to score points and to win by proving their own arguments in front of a neutral party.
I could easily think of the world in terms of good/evil, us/them, black/white. As it is, I see the evil (usually more clearly than the left does) and the good and the nuance in almost all views — I understand why some people are pro-choice (usually, I assume it’s because good-faith, pro-choice people are not in possession of all the facts). Eric Swalwell recently sat in front of his political opponents and told them to go to the funeral of the Uvalde killer so they could celebrate him there. Imagine sitting as your political opponent derided you in the most unfair, inaccurate terms, quietly taking the mockery, saying nothing to defend yourself as they painted you and your colleagues as actively supporting a young man who murdered nearly 20 children. (The man upbraiding you, to add insult to injury, was himself very personally compromised for a hostile foreign national.)
I would rest well every night, knowing that I was on the right side of history, but still aware that EVERYTHING is racist/sexist/homophobic and I always need to point it all out, because my ontologically evil political opposition is to stupid to see the light. I would feel well-justified as a ‘social justice warrior’, and very smug.
As it is, I am but a humble conservative, and I always have been, although my reasons for my conservatism parted ways with my religious parents’ reasons after I left home. I have to say, at the end of the day, I’m grateful to live in an antagonistic world. It sharpens my mind and keeps me empathetic as I am forced to view the world through other peoples’ lenses. I would not, as they say, have it any other way.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
This is the first in a series of pieces about how to change the world by (checks notes) being nice. Stay tuned!
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I couldn’t agree more, Lyds. I’ve always maintained, hell is a place where everyone thinks just like me. Without sparks and challenges thoughts are like a circular firing squad.
You've got this dead to rights. I'm not naturally contrarian, but I am conservative and that's become a form of contrarianism in today's society. The waters were turning slowly against conservatism back in 90's when I was a teenager, but now most if not all conservative positions are fully against the current of society. I feel like I got the benefit of getting to sharpen slowly. My kids are having to swim upstream from moment one. I work to sharpen them and learn to think critically.