Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reconciling Worldviews

I've had a lot of frustration this week (and will undoubtedly still have this frustration for weeks to come) with political perspectives that I see as dangerous and alien. So it's comforting to have psychologists looking at morality and coming up with conclusions. Here's the article, which I recommend in full. Below are my two favorite parts so far.
They want more prayer and spanking in schools, and less sex education and access to abortion? I didn't think those steps would reduce AIDS and teen pregnancy, but I could see why the religious right wanted to "thicken up" the moral climate of schools and discourage the view that children should be as free as possible to act on their desires. Conservatives think that welfare programs and feminism increase rates of single motherhood and weaken the traditional social structures that compel men to support their own children? Hmm, that may be true, even if there are also many good effects of liberating women from dependence on men. I had escaped from my prior partisan mindset (reject first, ask rhetorical questions later), and began to think about liberal and conservative policies as manifestations of deeply conflicting but equally heartfelt visions of the good society.
[M]orality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way. When Republicans say that Democrats "just don't get it," this is the "it" to which they refer. Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. When Democrats try to explain away these positions using pop psychology they err, they alienate, and they earn the label "elitist." But how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb? (Ed - emphasis in bold is mine).
I'm not yet done with the article, but it is challenging in interesting ways, stretching the tolerance of an open mind. If you're ready to considers others views as valid, give it a shot.

Edit: I've finished reading the article, and I'll have commentary up later. Right now the thing worth mentioning is pair of quotes:
"Religion and political leadership are so intertwined across eras and cultures because they are about the same thing: performing the miracle of converting unrelated individuals into a group."
The Democrats would lose their souls if they ever abandoned their commitment to social justice, but social justice is about getting fair relationships among the parts of the nation. This often divisive struggle among the parts must be balanced by a clear and oft-repeated commitment to guarding the precious coherence of the whole.
The key moral underpinning of politics on the left is, I think, reemerging after a several decades of hibernation under utopian secular notions. I think this change (which the author of the article sees as needed) is happening, and I think it's a good thing.

No comments: