Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Motes and beams

Our political discourse is a complete mess. A significant portion of the things people say are obvious fallacies, like appeals to emotion and ad hominem attacks. The remainder revolves around differing philosophies. Generally speaking, liberals believe that societal ills can be resolved by more fiscal regulations and permissive social policies. Conservatives (as typically defined) seek to slow change, believing that although change may be positive, it ought to be accomplished cautiously. Some modern conservatives are simply the mirror image of liberals; they favor laissez-faire economics and conservative social policies. Many of the people we call conservatives today are actually libertarians, who believe in small government; that is, permissive fiscal and social policies.

These philosophies are the result of different assumptions. It's easy to refute any of them, especially in their extreme versions. They argue back and forth, saying that the others are wrong. In so doing, they convince themselves that they've proven their own points. The assumption seems to be that if all other political philosophies are disproved, theirs must be correct. They fail to recognize one crucial bit of information:

They're all wrong. All of them.

Of course, there are many proposed policies that could improve things. We should be involved in politics and make wise decisions about whom we elect and which measures we support. I won't suggest otherwise. But it's all beside the point. We may make incremental improvements. We may temper some of the problems. But if we want to fix our society, we need to fix more than the system. We need to fix ourselves.

This post begins a series about how we can fix our world by fixing ourselves. Although we all have influence over other people, the fundamental principle throughout this series is that we each make our own choices. Each of us can choose to do what is right in every circumstance. It won't guarantee that everything we want to happen in our lives will happen. But we can choose it nonetheless. And maybe, by choosing to do what's right, we'll successfully encourage others to do the same.

Nothing besides fixing ourselves has a hope of fixing the world. We'd better get started.