What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON
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What exactly are conservatives conserving? This is a great question! Of course, I love the play on the similar root of the words conservative and conserving. Conservatives love talking about freedom. However it seems that if we listen to conservatives we would be free to live in a world that is being consumed by all of its so-called free human beings, and all these human beings would be competing to no end against one another. Sounds like a crappy version of freedom to me. Freedom without understanding and honoring the limits of the natural world seems to me to be simply a license to ignorantly destroy the planet and all of its inhabitants. Of course, the shared reality of the natural world, if it is going to be protected for the benefit of humanity, must put demands and limitations on human freedom. Human beings, though seen as the pinnacle of reality by many, are certainly not exempt from the feedback or karma that the rest of reality causes in response to our actions. Oftentimes, when I hear conservative speaking of freedom, it sounds to me like some immature fantasy of being free from anything and everything (or anyone). However, I believe that true human wisdom lies in discerning what we should do, not simply what we can do (or get away with). Reality gives plenty of good feedback about what we actually can’t do, so the obsession with freedom seems to me to be a sort of moot question. Like the existentialist philosopher John Paul Sartre says, “we are condemned to be free.” Freedom actually isn’t even a choice; we are born free. Certainly, living in community with other human beings is a complicated and difficult thing. However, it strikes me as foolish to ignore or greatly discount all the great things that we get from community as somehow too fuzzy or somehow reducible to some individualistic form of math (the whole equals the sum of the parts, not more) that need rely only on some “invisible hand” to do the difficult and messy work of creating and maintaining a healthy and functional community. In the end, it seems to me that what conservatives are conserving is the right to be selfish – more of an excuse than a human right. Then, to get out of this amoral or evil conundrum, they claim that selfishness is the highest form of selflessness or benefit to the common good. I suppose it’s very difficult to argue against an ideology that creates both its central tenet in its exact opposite. Let them eat cake and keep their cake to. What could be more conserving than that?