Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My one simple rule of politics

I have a simple rule for choosing the right view on any particular political issue. Whatever position makes you feel better about yourself--more patriotic, more compassionate, more socially conscious, more "American" (or whatever nationality you like)--is probably wrong. The right position is the one that makes you feel deflated--that you are just one small individual in a very large world, of no greater or lesser value than any of the other 7 billion people who walk the earth, wise enough to take care of perhaps your own affairs but not others', and that if there is hope for human progress, it comes from the unpredictable changes that occur when all these billions of people stumble onto solutions to their various problems.

To be sure, if you want to feel more compassionate, you can be more compassionate--by giving your money, your time, your work, and yourself to others. If you want to be more patriotic, you can do that, too--for instance, by joining the military (or perhaps better yet by actually reading what the Founding Fathers thought about government). But if believing in a particular public policy makes you feel any of these things without you actually doing anything, then it's wrong. Don't believe it. And definitely stop listening to anyone who tells you that you must believe in a particularly policy or else you won't be considered compassionate, patriotic, socially conscious, and so on.

In a word, the rule I'm talking about is humility.

That pretty much sums up my Christian pseudo-libertarianism. I say "pseudo" because it's not a philosophy primarily based on a love of liberty or a hatred of coercion. It's primarily based on a steadfast opposition to pride. And I suppose that makes it even less popular than actual libertarianism. In a world in which humans try so savagely to find a chieftain to rule their tribe, it's unlikely that humility will ever be considered a political virtue. I know of a man who once tried to declare himself a humble king. Well, they crucified him.

There is good news that comes after, or so I've been told. And I hope it's true, because if it isn't then I guess we'll just have to accept that the powerful get their way after all.

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