Well… I think I have kind-of-sort-of fleshed this out. That is not to say this is an all-encompassing, all-inclusive list of everything I believe; rather it should provide a general understanding of the prism through which I view the world and its going-ons.
First off, as a Christian I have accepted the fact that I am first and foremost one of my Creator’s most prized creations. Having said as much, I must also acknowledge that I am a sinner, a deeply broken person: I swear too much, drink too much sometimes, and too often do things that break my Father’s heart. But He is a forgiving God, so full of grace and compassion, that even while I continue to disappoint Him He knows I’m trying (sometimes harder than others unfortunately). Something I hope is evident to my neighbours, but I fear too often is not… It’s a life journey though, and with His help I’ll get where I need to be – because He lives.
Because of my faith, I know there are two things I must do: love the Lord – and by doing so follow His commandment as best I can, and show His love to my fellow man (note: this is especially hard to do during my commute).
Now, how this applies to my views of governance and the nature of man’s relationship with earthly powers and such may differ a great deal from many of those who would naturally assume I agree with them, while at the same time reinforcing other beliefs that others may find stereotypical.
I believe that humankind is the pinnacle of Creation here on Earth; we hold a special place in God’s heart and His plan. I believe we have been given dominion over the earth and all it contains, and we should be wise stewards of what we have been given. More on this later…
Secondly: I was born a citizen of these United States and I embrace my identity as an American whole-heartedly. This nation is possibly the best experiment in governing theory that man has ever conceived, and more good has been done for mankind through the auspices of the US than any other man-lead endeavour in my not so humble opinion (my opinions are often anything but humble, just ask around).
And lastly… Actually – before we get to the lastly – a slight disagreement I have with a lot of people on my side!
While many would argue that the US was founded on Christian principles, I assert that is to ignore the Revolution was in direct conflict with the precepts laid out in Romans 13 and ignored the teachings of Christ. Despite that, once Revolution succeeded, the United States was indeed founded on principles that are deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. And based on its founding, I find myself to be a Federalist: I believe in the American system of Federal government as proscribed in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights; I am convinced we are stronger together than as separate States and that the Federal Government has duties that are best left to its purview – common defense, interstate commerce, post office (though today maybe not really?), infrastructure, etc. And as such, I understand the powers of (the Federal) government are, and of right, ought to be limited in scope and in size (something both parties of governance have forgotten).
Also if Chicago has a sports team, I’m probably a fan – except for the White Sox. This will probably pop up from time-to-time, like if the Cubs are on a playoff run I’ll probably spout off. And if the Bears by some miracle make it anywhere near the playoffs… well, you probably don’t have to worry about that too much. Another also! GO COUGS!
Now! …lastly we get to my defining what it means to me to be conservative.
Just as I believe humankind is the pinnacle of Creation here, I believe the individual is the sacrosanct expression – taking that into account I also hold that individuals are not complete without community and relationship.
That being said, here is where I deviate from what most conservatives would declaratively state: while I believe the individual is of paramount importance in God’s eyes, of all the Rights that mankind supposedly has – I can only find a singular God-given one, possibly two: in all my studies, the only Right I find guaranteed by my Creator is the right to choose to do what is right or what is wrong… to do what my God calls me to do, or to do what man says I can do… That’s the only definitive Right I believe is God-given… There could be an argument made that the right to be born is God-given as well, but since the Fall – I’m not so sure: with that caveat – it is still a right I will fight for till the day I die.
Since I’ve stated that I don’t presume most Rights are God-given, I should take time to note that despite my misgivings there – I feel the Rights listed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are important, integral parts of a society seeking to protect and foster individuals and civil society. It should also be noted that almost all Rights elaborated on in the original Bill of Rights were negative Rights, and the positive Rights that were included were put in place to prevent the government from abusing its powers. I contend the Rights outlined in the original Bill of Rights and other Rights that have been added are correct and necessary reactions to injustices; whether they be known historical injustices or injustices practiced in this country – wrong was done and corrective actions were taken to right those wrongs and/or to prevent them from happening here/again. To me Rights should almost necessarily be negative ones, and the only positive ones should be implemented to ensure protection from governmental abuse – I have very little stomach or patience for those “rights” people argue should be that would require forcing others to do things they otherwise would not do. President Lincoln once said, “The legitimate object of government is “to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they cannot, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves.”” and I agree… to a point; but a legitimate object of government is not to do that which people do not feel needs to be done, or that people choose not to do – people should be responsible for their own lives and choices, and communities should step in when there is a perceived need to the extent they can.
To be a conservative, one should accept the simple premise that government is ill-suited to doing that which we as people should and could be doing. I accept that for the most broken and needy there should be a safety net (however we have far exceeded this mandate, and our posterity will pay dearly for it), but strongly feel that the government most definitely is not to be in the business of solving the world’s or society’s ailments. The American experiment is one in which the people did not desire a king over them to provide for them as the Israelite’s did, but desired first and foremost freedom – the freedom to do and be and say whatever they wanted to within the confines of the well-understood Judeo-Christian morality the colonies were well steeped in. The government of America’s founding was not meant to be a provider for those in want or need; rather it was meant to be a protector for those who wanted or needed to make a better life for themselves (I fully acknowledge there are disparities and dark spots in America’s history, and that it did not protect all equally for a good portion of time… But we did eventually get it right, I’d like to think). I think a government that de facto protects individual’s Rights while leaving them to their own designs is the best environment for people to become and do what God wants them to (granted it’s even better in a society rooted in Christian mores with strong communities, but you can’t force that on people and still be free…). I maintain that while individuals are that most important creation – that when facts and figures come into conflict with feelings, facts and figures are all that matters; this is an important tenant for public policy that I think passes to the wayside far too often.
And now… with that abrupt and awkward ending, I think I’ve gotten most of it out there. Now, we can move onto… other things… Later on… For now, I’ll leave you with this:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
~ Philippians 4:8 ~