So why, as a Liberal, do I choose my conscience over money, power, and being on board? Why do YOU think we choose to follow our conscience? I'd like to hear what you think.NEXT: AMAZON.COM CHEERS UP "THE DIVA"?!
An active, vital conscience is all about the mind, and the "life of the mind" is something that liberals have always been belittled for living. "You think too much," or "You think everything to death," are constant refrains from our conservative opponents. We nominate Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, to run for President, and they jeer him, and call him a "wonk." Then we nominate Al Gore, and they belittle him during the debates for seeming to know too much. An anchor on CNN (and I am paraphrasing here) even said, "Al Gore comes across like the smartest kid in class, the one who knew all the answers, and nobody liked that kid." God forbid we should have a SMART and INFORMED President (Luckily, we sure as hell don't have one NOW.)
(I think I might have been that kind of kid, so I take this smack personally.)
Liberals have been called "bleeding hearts" (which only means our imaginations are expansive enough to create in us an empathy for the suffering of others), "eggheads" and "permanent students" (which only means our desire for knowledge is expansive enough to make it a lifelong pursuit), and "elitists" (which only means that we appreciate and celebrate the life of the mind when lived by others, and not just by ourselves).
This constant monitoring of our internal life makes us, I think, more sensitive to our moral transgressions. Our "still small voice" is neither still, nor small. It is, in fact, chattier than Joan Rivers on a Turbo-Espresso IV.
But it is more than just this constant awareness of our consciousness and conscience that distinguishes us from our conservative counterparts.
I have given this question a great deal of thought, especially recently, and I think another major factor is that liberals see their life's achievements in a wider social context. Rather than crediting ourselves alone for the gains we make in life, we think of all those people and institutions and programs that helped us along the way, and we acknowledge the determinative role that played in our progress. We feel, as shackled by a conscience as we are, a moral imperative to "pay it forward" -- to return the energy others gave to us, to others. Conservatives, on the other hand, go in for the "rugged individualism" myth, the idea that success is personal, that we are captains of our own fates, and that our personal actions alone create our outcomes.
It is, of course, the height of arrogance and egotism for them to see the wider social contributions to their lives as incidental or coincidental, rather than meaningful. It makes not only for an overly inflated sense of themselves in comparison to others, but it also provides an easy moral "out" for denying these "incidental" or "coincidental" helps to others. (After all, this stuff made no difference in THEIR lives, did it?) Their denial of the determinative nature of these factors is so deep, so ingrained, so necessary for their self-image, that their conscience atrophies from lack of use in this area. Since they give themselves all the credit, they cannot see that they are denying anyone anything that matters. In their own grandiose way, they believe that they have nothing to repay; nothing to pay forward.
(An old joke goes like this: "He was born on third base, but he thinks he hit a home run!")
There are many examples of conservatives whose successful lives are based on the serendipity of a privileged birth (George W. Bush), on government programs they now seek to dismantle (Clarence Thomas), and government largesse that they took for their businesses (Ross Perot) or for their person (Rush Limbaugh), but would now deny to others.
Though the influence these factors had on the life success of the players is beyond all rational argument, the players stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that their successes owe anything to these factors. That makes it very easy for the players to remain willfully blind to the effects on the lives of others when these same factors are missing, or worse, REVERSED.
It gets still crazier. This is the same dynamic that is at work in their "culture wars" over "traditional American values." No matter how many high-profile conservatives wiggled their way out of military service in Vietnam, cheated on or left their wives and children, declared bankruptcy for themselves or their businesses, or abused alcohol or drugs in their past, they never seem to think that THEIR behavior has ANYTHING in common with the behavior of others. You see, THEY had good reasons for everything THEY did. THEY had an education and a career to think about (or a cyst on their butt), so they COULDN'T serve in the military. THEY were trapped in unhappy marriages with wives that didn't understand them. THEY (or their businesses) fell on hard times through no fault of THEIRS. THEY were just "experimenting" with substances, and by no means were they ADDICTS. THEY are nothing like LIBERALS who did these things -- THEY'RE "different."
On my planet, we refer to this phenomenon as "hypocrisy."
And it never ceases to amaze me that the space aliens posing as the mainstream media still haven't picked up on this earth concept yet...