Or, We have learned something from the history of the past thirty years, haven't we?
Posted by olvlzl
Do you think that your political positions are morally superior to positions you've rejected? Sounds strange when you put it that way, doesn't it. Why would you hold a position you weren't convinced was morally superior? Only two possibilities come to mind, unthinkingly following tradition and practicing self-interest divorced from morals. There are some positions that seem to be adopted by reason alone but since just about everything government does has an effect on the well being of someone, those certainly have a moral dimension, thought about or not.
The first post on my blog claimed our right to believe the moral superiority of our political positions and their firm base in reason. We have to stop cowering in conditional statements and apologetic poses of false modesty. Those are ineffective and weak and are not honest. It's not our personal virtue that is at question, it doesn't all come down to us. It's that our political positions are firmly grounded in the common good, reason over superstition, generosity over greed and facing that large parts of our law favor the wealthy few over the rest with no basis other than that they have the power to bend the law to their liking. If anyone doesn't agree that our positions are superior we should require better arguments than "that's the way it is" and "you're self-righteous" because that's about all there is to most of it.
The fear of asserting the moral superiority of liberalism is that we'll be as obnoxious as William Bennett, that moral exemplar of the right, and the rest of those modern pillars of morality who lecture us continually while enjoying lives so self-indulgent they would make ancient Roman aristocrats blanche. Now that Ann Coulter has joined the ranks of spokesmen of conservative "values" there is no doubt that morality or even sanity are not requirements to join in that number. There are people who like to lord their own superiority over other people but they are mighty few on the left as compared to those on the right. Conservatives certainly haven't suffered any ill effects from their being moral nags.
Of course, if we stand behind our convictions they will accuse us of self-righteousness. They do now even when there is a total absence of any assertion of righteousness on our part. As mentioned, this is in the face of the tidal wave of finger waving everyone but the wealthy gets from the right wing axis of drivel. They'll do it anyway but why should we listen to them? Are you afraid of annoying conservatives? If one of us gets too full of themselves that 's the time to tell the person to cut it out but it's no reason to stop believing in our positions.
Conservatives, as always, make the mistake of thinking that morality is all about them, an adornment of their sacred selves. That's how they see it and they think that's the way everyone does. But that's their problem, not ours.
People on the left have some great examples to follow. There is no doubt that Martin Luther King had a deep knowledge of his moral failings. There isn't a great moral leader who isn't aware of their flaws. And there were people like J. Edgar Hoover to remind him if he ever forgot. But can you doubt that he had absolute faith in the rightness of his beliefs? He put his life, the lives of his family and friends, the bodies and lives of countless people on the line for those beliefs over and over again. And no one knew more about what that really risked than he did. He knew from experience that some day the attacks he and his family had survived would likely end in one that would kill them. He knew what that looked like, he had seen it with his own eyes. Keeping on with that knowledge doesn't come without complete conviction.
If we don't have the courage to believe in the morality of our positions, we won't ever have the courage to change anything.
First posted on olvlzl Monday, June 26, 2006