What would happen if we stopped trying to legislate a social agenda in our country? Although this is a very naive notion (and frankly I am not a naive man) it does merit some pondering. The pragmatist in me knows that Man will always try to control his environment—it’s in the nature of the beast. Whether that environment consists of his natural surroundings, or the social tribe he surrounds himself with, his psyche seems to insist on control. The rub is that your control is not my control, and visa versa of course. And the very word control implies, at least in my mind, a restriction of freedom.
Most of us, when pressed, will readily confess to an abhorrence of our personal freedoms being restricted or infringed upon. I know that it’s a real flash point for me. Current events: Syria, Egypt, Ukraine and the like, show how ugly it can get when personal freedoms are trampled on by government. And how resentful people can become. We need government, laws and realistic controls. I wish it wasn’t so, but it would be complete anarchy otherwise. And anarchy can be pretty bloody in and of itself—Darwinian survival of the fittest.
Regardless of your social agenda, and as well-meaning as it might be, rest assured that your opposite will find it offensive, restrictive and unacceptable. I consider myself to be a fiscal conservative and a social libertarian, so I find both extremes (left and right) to be equally repugnant. The cornerstone of any thriving social organization is compromise. And compromise doesn’t fully satisfy anyone—and compromise is hard. It’s not that both extremes aren’t well-intentioned, but as the old adage goes: The road to hell is paved with good intentions [and I might add, unforeseen consequences].
Pro-choice versus pro-life. I grew up in a time and a place where unwed mothers often sought out the services of back-alley abortionists. The original intent of pro-choice legislation was not to kill babies, but to save young women from being butchered in alarmingly high numbers. The intent was noble, but it has since devolved into a sort of quasi-birth control in way too many cases that I find both unsavory and unconscionable. There is need for reform at both ends of the spectrum, but it won’t happen without discussion and compromise. And it won’t happen in a climate of social and legislative gridlock.
Is there room for ‘Exclusion’ in our society? I personally think the answer is yes, and maybe even a resounding yes. We are led to believe, by the extreme left, that all exclusion is bad, and that only inclusion is good. I don’t subscribe to that notion, and I am often labeled by the right as being extreme left in my thinking (which I’m not). The prime example of acceptable exclusion is in our churches and spiritual practice. Government has no authority to impose its will upon our houses of worship. If a religious body wishes to exclude a segment of our society from its membership it has every right to do so. Period. However, if that same religious body accepts government funding, abuses its non-profit tax exemption status, or partakes in political activism under the guise of religious freedom, then it should be held to the same inclusive standard current legislation demands. This is separation of Church and State, and you can’t have it both ways.
On a less serious note: I mourn the loss of private men’s clubs and cigar clubs. I am not talking about strip clubs. These men’s clubs were established by groups of individuals (not companies) for the social interaction of men, exclusive of women. They were fraternal in nature, and provided both social and business networking opportunities. They were exclusive. Meaning they could exclude membership to anyone for any reason. They were membership driven, and you had to be sponsored and voted in. You paid membership dues to belong, and you abided by the agreed upon bylaws. No government funding, no special tax status. Were they discriminatory? Certainly. But they were private clubs and had every right to be discriminatory (they paid for the privilege). However, those excluded groups felt compelled to challenge that exclusivity in the courts, and I believe they won—my lawyer friends could probably shed more light on that. You don’t see those clubs around anymore in the United States, so I am assuming there is a reason for that. Because you don’t necessarily agree with the premise doesn’t automatically make it evil or destructive. Where [in the private domain] does it say that just because you are excluded you are automatically entitled to be included?
There are so many instances in our current society where it has to be all or nothing. Compromise is now a pejorative term. Executive power in Washington is running unchecked, the legislature is gridlocked and the judiciary appears to be more focused on social engineering than on the law per se. It is a sad state of affairs. I feel that there is a difference between public and private, and that our governmental efforts should be focused like a laser on the public good and not on those things that are intrinsically private. Bring balance back to the three co-equal branches of government, get our fiscal house in order, legislate laws that are beneficial to all (accepting compromise) and enforce those laws that our framers thought were constitutionally important.
Spend more time holding your government accountable, and less time worrying about your neighbor’s foibles and differences. Be a good public citizen, and have respect for the private domain. Private is private for a reason. We have enough to do just to get our governmental house back in order without exerting additional energy on a social agenda—left or right. I like the label: Fiscal conservative, social libertarian.
Author’s note: My poor brain bounces around like a ping pong ball most of the time; I suppose one could say this is the associative thought process in action (or free association). One thought leads to another and to another … for instance the pro-choice/pro-life argument really has nothing to do with men’s clubs. But I wanted to point out that if you look deeply enough into an argument or point of view that the original intent may sometimes surprise you. I certainly don’t have all the answers (I’ve admitted to that on many occasions), and what often appears to be simple is, in point of fact, very complex. I use blog posts to provoke (encourage) mindful thought and discussion, not to piss people off. Okay, sometimes I try to piss people off. SFD