What Would Happen If …



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


More compromise?


8 responses to “What Would Happen If …

  1. I’m supposed to be retired Stephen and your thoughts make so much sense that it is in my brain for most of the day. Used to be I could drive 6 blocks and see you and say, come on now, and chat for an hour at your desk. Kinda miss that!
    Keep it up though, I am so glad that you are enjoying not being anywhere that you don’t want to be and enjoying some fairly good scotch and a cigar!

  2. Steve the phrase I use is “Fiscally Conservative and Socially Liberal” which is what I believe is the center of Libertarian philosophy.

    • Harold, your phrase is probably more correct than mine. I am not a Libertarian (I’m now a registered Independent after 40+ years as a Democrat). And I haven’t really studied Libertarianism per se, but from what little I have read and heard I think I’m pretty much in their camp philosophically. Thank you for your comment. Steve

  3. Hi Steve. I liked your analysis on compromise. I believe the reason for all the “them verses us” mentality in our government is money driven. Most people who support political candidates are those who are on the far side of issues and have agendas that are not willing to compromise. That is why I do not give to political elections and I have disappointed some people. Usually the peace makers are the ones who get arrows in their backs and are kicked to the curb for even suggesting a compromise on any issue. I grew up with exclusion as a way of life and I was OK with it as long as it was level ground for all people and not based on color, religion, or social standing. My twin brother when we where going out for a position on the football team received the words “you made the team”. I got the thumb down and watched him play from under the shade tree. However after two practices he came walking over to me and I asked him what he was doing. He said, “If you cann’t play I don’t want to play either.” For our system to change we have to start looking at people who do not agree with us as friends in relationship willing to play together and live life together in compromise where the sane people live. This takes courage to admit that we don’t have all the answers. Again I believe money is the wedge that drives political machines and money is the hammer that drives the wedge into the heart of compromise. I love you man. Have a great day.

    • Ron,

      I’ve been meaning to tell you, for a long time now, how much I admire the way you live your life. You are a man of strong faith, and yet you don’t preach. You are a man of strong ethical and moral character, and yet you don’t judge. You are a man of great wisdom and understanding, and yet you don’t place yourself above others. Bottom line you walk the talk, and I don’t sense a hypocritical bone in your body. You inspire me to want to be a better person. I guess if I ever grow up (doubtful at this point) you wouldn’t be a bad person to be like. I value your friendship amigo.


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