The Tension Between: Religion and Politics; Values, Faith, Character; Heart and Head.
– Mark Twain, Eruption
There are few things that create tension among mixed company like politics and religion. Both are deeply personal and are shaped over years of experience and observation. Every individual will at some point in their life make judgements regarding what is true and correct. While there are specific tenets in faith and politics that create divisions by faction or creed, there are intersections of laws both made by man and that of the eternities that will by necessity require the formation of relationships based on trust and ecumenical loyalties.
The stage for Economy is when two or more people are gathered to exchange values.
The stage for Politics is when two or more people are gathered to work out their differences by policy.
The stage for Security is when two or more opposing forces cannot work things out by politics.
The stage for Religion is when two or more are gathered to worship.
If any of these things were purely of an individual matter, we would not need discuss them, let alone spend an undue amount of time trying to prove the errors of ignorance, arrogance, envy, enmity, and all other antithetical behaviors to the supposed “virtuous path”. Our intuitive desire for higher understanding, the very desire that espouses the virtues of knowledge, humility, empathy, brotherly kindness, and love, is synthesized in social interaction. Without this desire, without curiosity, the world would we be an awful boring space for matter to occupy.
Exemplars, Heroes, Mentors, are sought after because it’s easier to subscribe to a set of principles and values than it is to come up with, and etch them on your own set of tablets. Subscribing does not require the follower to sacrifice as much in reputation and capital, until they become an active participant to the effect of leading in their own spheres of influence. The stakes for integrity, pure intent, and follow through are not nearly as demanding on the follower as they are for the leader. I suspect that each of us at some point in our lives will be challenged to take up our cause and become the leader where we stand at that time. Each of us will weigh the balance of what “is” and what “ought”, and what we can effect to “become”. Much of those experiences repeating in different circumstances will make up not just what we believe, but who we become. And thus we develop Character.
Those of us that know and understand the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, have a testimony that not only has a perfect exemplar lived and died, but that he lived again. That one life in presumably billions was able to rise above all things, and descend below all things, and then rise again, that He might judge with perfect judgement given to him by his Father.
Testimony is a thing that is difficult to debate with those that do not have that testimony. Again it is something that is acquired through desire, faith, action, and experience. Doctrinal differences aside, all arguments for and against must be weighed by the experience of synthesizing what has been written and analyzed. This is where faith begins, it begins when a truth exists with or without a hypothesis. By curiosity, by desire, or faith, without any evidence that our action will be rewarded with a better understanding, we move forward with what we do know finding the path ahead lighted just enough for us to know we should continue forward. Now when this is so done, and the truth is uncovered, that which was learned has now become experience, and truth becomes not just faith, but knowledge by faith. Without faith, there could be nothing known, for without having knowledge of truth by our own experience, we are just borrowing information from others. Such an existence would be wholly dependent, and yet be isolated in ignorance. Which is why most of us take the truth to be hard when we’re unwilling to interact with others.
There are folks out there that may have good intent, but they’re just wrongheaded. Sometimes they draw their experience from foreign sources to illustrate the correctness of their anecdotal assumptions. These are not enemies to that which is true, but their ignorance is indeed the enmity between truth and the path to hell paved with good intentions. When Reagan quipped about the “trouble with our liberal friends” it was tongue in cheek, but the observation holds true to those that become frustrated when attempting to articulate the hypothesis, analysis, and the synthesis of the “trouble” that we share concomitantly, along with the proposed solution, to another that simply ‘doesn’t get it’.
Humility provides us the opportunity to re-evaluate what we know, and what we do with that knowledge. So much of what Conservatism is, as an ideology, requires personal study, personal experience, and personal sacrifice to stand up to populist movements that are driven by group-think. One mustn’t assume that Conservatism is wholly on the side of tradition when pitted against progress. Conservatism is more about starting with personal effectiveness.
Rather than dealing with outliers by moving the goal posts and skewing production in the name of equality and fairness. The more limited the government is in manipulating the outcome, or redistributing the harvest of producers, the more individuals are required to prosper on their own merits, or depend on the charity of others for their substance. When government provides a safety net for that gap, they promote dependency rather than self-sufficiency, and government grows. When government provides a safety net for that gap, they deprive the opportunity for producers to work by charity, and then government grows.
Not all will value all in parity. So how is it that we can claim that equality is promoted by redistributing the fruits of productivity? All men are created equal, but going forward it is their life and their liberty that allows them to determine their own path in the pursuit of happiness. Liberty without independence is dead being alone. The less dependent we are on others (including Government), the more we can create, innovate, illustrate, and educate. (i.e. contribute/produce). Contribution is always more effective in production than Confiscation and Re-Distribution of talents, and when we are speaking about the conditions of mankind at the individual level, progress will be found in personal effectiveness, not dependence on others for substance.
There is indeed a tension between our head and heart. But when peaceful emotions seem to harmonize both, we are given the rare gift of clarity in that very moment. It is when we have these moments that we can be confident in the desire, the action, the faith, and the knowledge obtained. I have a suspicion that the absence of this clarity isn’t a judgement upon our ability to reconcile the tension between head and heart, but rather a clue that quite possibly we’re being distracted from that which is most important and urgent in the pursuit of happiness from the eternal perspective.
Each of us “ought” to evaluate where we stand. We “ought” to lift and contribute in that place to the greatest execution of our capacity. However liberty dictates that we are free to choose our own personal effectiveness to our own purposes. And herein lies the confidence that can not be stripped by detractors, defamers, and distractions. When we do what is right, we remain free. Neither can we do wrong, and feel good about it. As long as we all remain free to choose for ourselves what we produce, and what we contribute, the more there will be of necessity, ideologies that compete. Therefore we must recognize that the expansion and contraction of these tensions during the expected lifetime of an individual are conditions of the perpetuity of social interaction. Some conditions may require compromise, some conditions may require absolutes. Thus the need to set goals with the direction and purpose in mind, as much as the consideration of the destination and achievement. I suppose that on the ladder of knowledge and experience that there is not any one of us that can jump too many rungs at a time, and hope to understand something where we have not tread foot.