Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Changing boxes-

We need categories in order to think about things. Things need names, and they need a "box" to show their association with other things. I say "things" even though ideas are also objects of thought. It is a simpler way to think about thinking, and ideas as objects is not an unreasonable concept.

So we put things (and ideas) into boxes. A particular thing might fit into quite a number of boxes, each box lending an element of understanding regarding that particular thing.

Political and economic ideas fit into boxes. Sometimes we confuse the box for the thing, and I think our understanding becomes muddled as a result.

As a Christian I adopted some ways of thinking that were different from my native thoughts. I adjusted my old ways based on the authority of the Christian teachings to which I had chosen to submit myself. Sometimes I adopted the American Christian cultural biases along with the more objective Christian truths. I rarely did so intentionally.

It was by virtue of this that I became a Republican for quite a number of years. Many conservative Christians with which I associated tied the Republican agenda closely to the fundamental truths of the Christian faith. I early on found flaws in this thinking, and never was fully able to embrace the Republican Party as a result.

Strangely enough, I was associated with the Christian Left at one time. I have always had sympathy for the idea of an ideal communism. It is efficient and fair, and I like that. However, any examples of Communism I have ever seen have been far from efficient or fair, and often were worse in their corrupt forms than other models being acted out throughout the world.

The association was never official, nor was it really mine. Others made the association based on my expression of the belief that the hungry should be fed, and that all people should be clothed and sheltered. I think that these are good things, and right. However, I am not Left enough to adopt the belief that government is the proper medium to provide them.

Indeed, I have never had a strong trust in government. I recognize the need of regulatory bodies to keep people from injuring each other and taking unfair advantage of those who are somehow weak. I do not necessarily believe that the government is the medium through which all people should receive all good things.

Governments tend to become corrupt, either from self-seeking people taking control of them or from age and ossification. They are not really the ideal medium for compassion. They serve well in regulating and enforcing, but generosity is not an inherent characteristic of such bureaucracies. It seems that those bodies that seek to be all to their people demand much in the way of reduced rights and freedoms in exchange.

Over time I have come to the conclusion that a minimal government is best. Let it be charged with whatever regulations and enforcements are necessary to keep people from injuring one another and some means to protect the weak from oppression. A nominal regulation in guiding people in settling conflicts seems necessary, but it should be quite carefully managed.

I believe that optimal freedom for individuals is best for all. It allows even the Christian freedom to live as they chose, and to share their beliefs freely. The Christian beliefs would have to compete in an unregulated marketplace of ideas, of course. I don't see that as problematic. In a truly open marketplace ideas that are strong would thrive.

The compassionate would be free to exercise compassion, unhindered by needless regulation or the compulsion to support some inefficient bureaucracy. Those who are less compassionate would not have their resources stolen by a system engineered to enforce compassion.

So I believe. Unfortunately, my former associates the Republicans (not without compromised assistance from the Democrats) have embroiled my country in a fruitless war. This election I will be supporting the Democrats in choice of leaders, though I do so with trepidation. I am convinced that the war must end and have a slightly greater hope in the Democrats doing so than the Republicans.

That being said, I am not jumping into their box for more than the act of voting. I see the Democrats as inclined toward creating that benevolent and intrusive government I despise. Republicans have proved intrusive without the benevolence, except for a soft heart for the wealthy. I would cast them all aside for greater freedom and less government.

Though I think in boxes, like everyone else, I recognize that life is not so neatly packaged. I am open to changing boxes, either to gain a new perspective or to bring about some desirable result.

The boxes are a tool for thinking, and should liberate thought. When they serve to confine and control, it is time to change boxes.

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