Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Breaking Your Rules

Most people have rules for how you must relate to them. There are the Primary Rules such as don’t lie, cheat, steal, etc. Then there are the Secondary Rules: for example, Don’t ever raise your voice at me; Tell me I am good looking, at least once a day; When I ask you a question, you must answer me instantly; Faithful is the friend who never wounds me with the truth; Laugh at all my jokes.

One of the problems with our Secondary Rules is treating them as if they were Primary Rules, so that failure to obey them will get the rule-breaking sinners excommunicated from our presence, or at least sent to their room for a time-out. But do we really want to treat “raising your voice at me” as if it were the same as “stealing from me”? Maybe they’re just passionate communicators, for crying out loud. Sorry. For crying out sooooooftly. Don’t want you to go all Darth Vader on me.

Another problem with Secondary Rules is that we are often not conscious of them. To us they are presuppositions that are so unquestionably true that we do not even think of them. Never have. Well, not until someone crosses us and then our anger is screaming: “Look! Why it’s one of my rules being broken!!” (I have a theory here that the more Secondary Rules you have, the fewer the friends, but that’s a topic for another day.)

The next time you choose to erupt in anger at someone who has broken your rules and banish them until they show an appropriate degree of repentance, STOP! Take a breath. Now. Ask yourself:

Is this a Primary or Secondary Rule and am I responding accordingly?
Did this person know about these rules?
Did she/he/they agree to abide by your rules?

I wonder if it would help here, if, once you become aware of a Secondary Rule, you would place it in a category titled, Preferences. And it would definitely be useful if you would have conversations with your loved ones about these Preferences. After you’ve calmed down, of course.

My experience is that more relationships are busted up by conflicts over Secondary Rules than by Primary ones. Worse, the offenders were quite often clueless about the rule, until they had broken it.

“But they should have known. After all, everyone knows this is a rule. Come on, Wilson, if Moses were alive today, he would have chiseled this one onto the stone tablets.”


Edited Reposting - Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

Monday, October 3, 2016

Off-Loading Love in Honduras!

This small nation is the 2nd poorest nation, after El Salvador, in Central America, and the 6th poorest nation in all of Latin America.  Over 60% of the population lives in the depths of poverty, eking out an existence on $2.50 per day.

It is also ranked 9th in the world (WHO) for “violent death,” aka murder. When a nation is so impoverished that it hasn’t the resources to provide sufficient protection to its citizens, especially from those trafficking in drugs, we know that the average citizen is living with dread every time they or the children leave home.

As you would expect, however, it isn’t just crime and poverty that is racking this nation: they are also suffering with diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart problems.

Poverty, violent crime, and disease, all scream, Please, Come. Help. Us. 

On this particular trip, we brought in millions of dollars worth of medicines to distribute to doctors from across the nation. The need is great, as pharmacies and even the hospitals have little or no drugs to dispense to their patients. As one doctor told me, “I can write prescriptions all day, but no one can fill them.”

Dr Raul presiding over distribution. Every case, every pill, is accounted for, as is exactly what each doctor received.

The faces of physicians receiving medicines were awesome. They looked like children on Christmas morning! 

Dr Raul told me that we have touched the lives of 35,000 people with the medicines we have been sending in.

The military here forms brigades that go out into villages and distributes medical supplies. 

It was an incredible opportunity to serve some amazing doctors and their patients. 

One of the things that can be challenging to communicate regarding distributing aid is that, for the recipients (as well as for us the donors), this is far more than a material transaction. For them, the medicine communicates that people see their plight and care. So. We are not merely off-loading items from container ships: we are off-loading love. And because of support from people like you, we will continue doing so!


Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Demanding Truth

Write the truest sentence that you know.

Whether it is in conversation with yourself, your family, a friend, or a co-worker, let your next sentence be true. In other words, demand the truth of yourself. This presupposes, of course, that you know the truth of yourself.

What am I truly feeling or thinking? What do I actually believe, and why? Not what am I supposed to be feeling, thinking or believing but what is the truth of me, what is the truth to me? Yes, yes, when we speak our truth we want to be appropriate and wise.  However, how often do we use these sentiments to actually bleed the substance of our truth from our sentences and, consequently, from our souls?

How can we insist upon “the truest sentence” from others, if we ourselves prefer comforting lies that shelter us from disturbing facts, unsetting realities, and soul-rattling truths? “This is what I believe (not), how I feel (nope), what is true for me (hope they bought that),” is a sentence that gives others permission to lie to you and robs you of the authority of integrity while questioning their sentences.

Thinking With Your Own Mind
It seems to me that many people choose to allow others to think through their brains and speak through their mouths. They are talking heads with talking points and muted souls, not individuals with their own thoughts and feelings. When asked a question the default position is to repeat the beliefs of the tribes to which they belong: political tribes, religious tribes, social tribes, ideological tribes, etc.

Before you speak, ask yourself: do my words have any correlation to the truth of things as I view them? Have I dug deeply enough into my mind and heart to know what is actually there? When it comes to my beliefs, am I merely parroting others, repeating the thoughts of those I respect or fear, or am I expressing the results of my own studies and deliberations?

I would rather discover I was wrong about the “truth” of my beliefs and ideas than mindlessly echoing what turned out to be true. I would rather be an honest heretic than mindlessly orthodox. (And religions are not the only institutions with orthodoxies!) I would rather say, “I don’t know,” before trafficking in stolen goods—pretending my words and thoughts were actually mine, while knowing I had pilfered them from someone else.

We need to stop being robots, giving the controls over our brains, hearts, and mouths to others. Stand up to the “intellectual terrorism of institutions” (Voegelin) and tribes that demand we fall in line and repeat the company line, “or else.” 

Demand the truth of yourself.

Come to your own conclusions. 

Have your own voice.

Now. Speak the truest sentence that you know.

Reprint: Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Life and Kicking Nazgûl Butt

For around 20 years, each winter I reread Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I am not sure why I initially started doing this, other than every time I read these volumes I saw more and more of the truths contained in his mythology: truths that helped shape my life. That’s the thing about “classics,” as they can be read over and over again, and you always come away with more.

As a young man, I loved the stories of the great battles against Sauron and his minions, the 9 Nazgûl against the 9 companions. “This is what life is all about. Gather your band of brothers and go kick some Nazgûl butt!” After I grew older, however, it was the Hobbits that held my deepest interest. They led simple lives, ate simple meals, loved simple stories, and always had a song or a riddle on their lips—even when facing the enemy. And when they did get caught up in an adventure their hearts and minds were always drawn back to the Shire, a good beer, a long smoke and laughing with friends.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about these Hobbits, as I see so many people whom appear to be defining their lives solely by The Cause, The Battle. Certainly there are battles that must be waged, but I wonder if fighting as a way of life, fighting as the reason for my existence, is healthy.

Think about this: When Abraham heard that Lot and his family had been taken captive, he gathered his family and servants and went off to wage war. He and his family were not roaming the countryside looking for a fight. They were living life, went to war, and then went back to living life. “Family” is who they were: war is what they did, when necessary.

The thing about waging war is one feels so important while fighting. The cause defines me and imbues me with feelings of significance and meaningfulness. But when the cause has been won or lost, what do I feel then? Empty? Alone? Defeated? Martyred? – Really? Your life is now meaningless because the battle, for good or ill, is over? Maybe this is why so many people hallucinate a minute-by-minute personal battle with Satan. Not being able to simply live life, enjoy life, and be grateful for the gift of life, I must create a larger panorama within which I can feel alive and significant. “Sorry Edith, no time for the kids: Satan has chosen ME!”

No one loves the smell of napalm in the morning more than I do (Lt Kilgore- Robert Duval, Apocolpypse Now) but come on: You’re a mechanic for Honda.  Don’t you think Satan has a few more priority targets than you?

When my life was centered upon causes and wars, I found that the measure with which I evaluated everyone and everything was in terms of the cause, as I defined it. “What? You’re not engaging in the battle of the century? What are you doing, drinking a good beer, having a long smoke and laughing with friends? Don’t you know that Armageddon is upon us? You treacherous invertebrate, get out there and man the picket lines, post 25 gotchya bon mots on Facebook every day, and pick some fights with the brain-dead Orcs in your office. If you’re not kicking Nazgûl butt then your life is worthless.”

Let’s allow St Paul to weigh in here: “Mind your own business, lead a quiet life, and work with your hands so as to not stand in need of charity.” Sounds like a Hobbit-like life, to me. If more of us focused on such matters, I wonder how much time we would have for all of our activism, which, all too often, is merely frenetic activity to mask the terrible boredom we experience because we have failed to grasp the joy and peace that is to be found in family, friends, work, the beauty of creation … and a good beer, of course.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Poking the Pompous

There goes, but for the grace of God, God.
- Winston Churchill

Poking fun at the pompous and self-important has a long and auspicious history.  There’s just something that is so deliciously tempting about a preening, self-congratulatory blowhard that is almost impossible to resist.

Be honest: when you are in the presence of a guy who is behaving as if he were Atlas holding the weight of his family, business, spiritual community or nation on his shoulders, don’t you feel an overwhelming urge to point out his spindly legs? When you are speaking with a woman who’s every word and constant behavior screams, “I am better than you all,” with solemn demeanor and funeral-like voice, of course, how hard is it to not point out that she needs a few more stitches to hold up her wings?  

Why is it that we are attracted to people who easily laugh at themselves and who take no offense when people poke fun at their eccentricities and foibles, usually joining in with the laughter? Among other reasons, I think it is because we intuit that this man doesn’t see himself as God’s answer to every question or believes that she is superior to the hoi polloi. They know they are human, just like the rest of us and so never pretend to be other than human.

The reality is that the reason the pompous wrap themselves in robes of solemnity is to nip in the bud any notion of humor at their expense, because their fragile egos can’t handle hearing, “Look, the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!” As they see it, they are above criticism, their arguments are unassailable, and their self-righteous passions are proof-positive of their altruistic motives. Really? All most of us see is an ego with a bulls-eye just screaming to be pierced with the arrow of some well-timed humor.

The ability to laugh at our selves is evidence of humility and mental health. The inability to do so is a sure sign of arrogance and a fragile ego: the remedy for this is to have a good laugh at yourself, at least once a day, or to have others sling arrows of ego-deflating humor at you. Your choice!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016  

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Chapel Perilous and Moral Imagination

Men tend to mistake their private experiences for certain knowledge; thus they stumble into a prison of spirit, shut off from the painfully acquired wisdom of the species.

- Russell Kirk

In Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, as the knights of the Round Table are about to eat their supper, they all hear a crackling noise so loud that that they each think the building is about to fly-apart.  Before any of them can say a word, a sunbeam appears, “more clearer by seven times than they ever saw day, and all alighted of the grace of the Holy Ghost.”  As this light shines throughout the room, each of them then sees the others as they had never seen their fellow knights, “fairer than ever they saw afore.”  Sitting there dumbfounded, the Holy Grail appears.

“Then there entered into the Hall the Holy Grail covered with white samite, but there was none might see it, nor who bare it.”  As the Grail begins to hover around the King’s Hall, there appears before each of the knights his favorite foods and drinks.  And then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the Grail leaves the room. *

Thus begins the knight’s quest for the Holy Grail – which leads to the Chapel Perilous.

Within the Chapel, at various times, there is a sword, a healing remnant of clothing, holy water, shields, a dead knight, candlesticks, and, most always, the Holy Grail. Surrounding the Chapel is a ring of tombs. If the knight could gain entrance – and many could not – there he would discover the meaning and wisdom of the symbols within the Chapel, and, drinking from the cup, find redemption and healing.

The Chapel is perilous, however, for within its walls are also thundering voices and fiendish powers seeking to deceive and to lead the questers astray or to kill them, outright: just as there had been along the paths each knight had taken in search of the Grail.  Here, the way to victory, the way to understanding the items/symbols within the Chapel and gaining wisdom, depends upon faith, endurance, and virtue.

Moral Imagination
In reading legends, myths–here, that of King Arthur and his knights—we are introduced to representations of reality, of Truth. While these representations are symbolic, they are, nonetheless, depictions of, for example, the realities of the human condition, of the virtues required for a rightly ordered soul and community, and wisdom regarding how to make our way through the common trials and tribulations of life.  What it takes to see the meaning of these symbols is moral imagination: “the power of ethical perception.” (Russell Kirk)

But what do we all too often do when we read, if we read, such stories?

“We play with the words of the dead that would teach us, and strike them far from us with our bitter, restless will; little thinking that those leaves which the wind scatters had been piled, not only upon a gravestone, but upon the seal of an enchanted vault—nay, the gate of a great city of sleeping kings, who would awake for us, and walk with us, if we knew but how to call them by their names.”**

As we stand in the Chapel Perilous, some will only see the dead leaves and trifles of a superstitious age of credulity. The symbols within are no longer relevant and, believing so, will then remain lifeless. Those of us who are desperately seeking wisdom and healing for our selves and our communities will find, however, that these symbols can come alive, if we only have a bit of moral imagination.  

* Opening two paragraphs are taken from my book, Legendary Leadership.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fighting Darkness With Darkness

The World is trying an experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time; so that the faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us: to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.

- TS Eliot

I empathize with those Christians who see darkness descending upon our nation and, then, take up their political light sabers. The challenge here, however, is our choice of sabers. Do we combat ideologies with opposing ideologies or with faith, love, and transcendent Truth? Let me phrase this question in another way: Are we defined by the Left, or the Right, or by our faith? Before answering these questions, I encourage you to not tell me what you “believe” but, rather, look back on the last years of political activism and tell me what your words and behaviors are communicating.

As Christians, we should be all about the Kingdom of God and against all that is anti-God and anti-human, whether it is found on the Right or the Left. I’m not suggesting we should not be involved in politics or not care about the welfare of our nation and fellow Americans. What I am saying is that we should be involved as Christians. Whatever it is we chose to do, we must reject the horizontal plane of polarization (Right v Left) that is ripping society to pieces, so that we can engage in the vertical relationship of God with human persons. (Russell Kirk. I think.) Only then will people hear caring (and hopefully intelligent) Christians, rather than the carping of political partisans and the screeching of parrots.

The reality is that the major issue confronting society today is neither political nor economic, although it affects both. The issue I am referring to is that of Sin and Redemption. So many Christians who should know this, however, spend the majority of their energies arguing about politics and almost zip about the underlying spiritual and moral causes of and remedies for what ails American society. I am particularly baffled by those Christians who identify as being on the Right who accuse those on the Left of wanting the state to be god and then speaking as if the state ordered by the “right” kind of action by the “right” politician will save us and society. Newsflash: the state is not our savior.

I think it is long past time that we remember that our warfare is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6.12.) No: ours is a spiritual battle for souls. Yes, we should earnestly and zealously do what we can toward seeking a rightly ordered society. However, if souls are not rightly ordered, no matter what actions we take as a nation, we will still keep descending into the darkness.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Time Without The Timeless

Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid* apathy with no concentration /

Men's curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—

-TS Eliot, The Four Quartets

Once a person or culture rejects any belief in the transcendent and the eternal and all that remains is the material, all that’s left is despair or its weakling twin sister, boredom. If there is no eternal Creator and Father of us all, no timeless moments within time, then there is no transcendent purpose or meaning to life and history. All we have, then, as the French philosopher Camus saw, is absurdity and despair. “The only serious question in life,” he said, “is whether to kill yourself or not.” Not having the courage of their convictions to embrace the reality of what it means to be locked within a world without the eternal God, Americans, by-and-large, have opted to embrace the weakling twin sister.

Having made such a choice, however, theirs is not simply a meaningless life of boredom where each person daily seeks to be “Distracted from distraction by distraction.” No: having chosen to reject the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, they are also now subjected to the tyranny of false-gods. After all, as Eliot said in 1939, “If you will not have God, (and He is a jealous God), pay your respects to Hitler and Stalin.”

Civil Government Demanding an anti-God and anti-humane conformity for the sake of an “equality” that never has and never will exist, and justifying its tyranny of centralized powers on the grounds of “efficiency” and “progress,” our Leviathan-like government strangles to death all diversity, variety, and individual freedom. Boredom is now a legislated societal norm.  

Education Statist education supports this boring conformity with an unrelenting war against excellence. Rejecting books that exalt transcendent Goodness, Beauty and Truth, it replaces them with dull and boring reading material written for the lowest common denominator, as well as with books that covertly or overtly exhort us to conform to the dictates of the State. Augmenting this war against the transcendent and excellent, students are taught that no person or culture is allowed to stand out due to singular achievements: all are to be given awards for merely participating.

Work Businesses, seeking higher and higher degrees of efficiency for the sake of higher and higher profit margins, treat people as cogs in a wheel. Not seeing each person as being created by God in the image of God and for God, there is no such thing as human dignity, only so many objects to be shuffled around the Monopoly game-board for the sake of the almighty dollar. Having accepted the lie of time without the timeless, the cogs embrace their fate and go through their days in dreariness.

Individuals Rejecting their status as being made a little lower than the angels and placed in a world enchanted with God’s presence, the only course left to the unbelieving blind is being subjected to the machinations of the Great Herdsman of our culture and the diversions of the vacuous fads and fashions of the meaningless moment. Of course, anarchy (aka, cultural suicide) is another option, but that’s a post for another day.

Is it any wonder that so many of us seek to be “Distracted from distraction by distraction”? No longer seeking to apprehend “The point of intersection of the timeless with time,” or the eternal guiding and defining the temporal, we become inanimate objects ruled over by the whims of others and a heartless fate. Time without the timeless filled with tyrants who control our times and, as Eliot wrote in his Four Quartets, a pointless “rising and falling. / Eating and drinking. Dung and death.”

*  Tumid: Swollen; distended.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Learning From the Dead

Though he died, he still speaks.
- Hebrews 11.4

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.
- GK Chesterton

Very early in life, we learn to learn from our mistakes. We intuitively know that it is in our best self-interest to pay attention to what brings health, fulfillment, and success, and what doesn’t. However, as life is short and our bank of experiences limited, the wiser among us also realize the importance of learning from the experiences of others, which includes the dead.

When I was around 10 years old, my dad decided to see if he could expand my choice of reading materials from Green Lantern and Superman comic books to something a bit more substantive. Toward this end, he would listen for whomever I seemed to admire and then leave a short biography of the person on my bed. It worked. I loved reading about Albert Einstein, Mickey Mantle, Madam Curie, and George Washington. While unaware of it at the time, this was a crucial aspect of my development, as I was learning about what was required of me to be successful in life, not just regarding the honing of skill-sets, but also the importance of character. I was learning, albeit unconsciously, from the lives of others.

It was during my senior year of high school, in my Honors American Prose and Literature class, that my unconscious learning from others became conscious. (Thank you, Mrs. Cogar!) Now, it wasn’t only biographies on the living and the dead who were teaching and inspiring me, but, also, fictitious characters and stories. The stories of authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorn, Edgar Alan Poe, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Conner didn’t simply entertain me, they were teaching me about human nature, ethics, wisdom, and the quest for redemption.

Wisdom From Across the Ages
Whether it is the right ordering of the soul and our lives, or the right ordering of society, for century after century the wise have always sought out a body of literature that contains ideas and ideals that have been tried and found true regarding First Principles and Permanent Things: classics where “time and timelessness intersect.” (TS Eliot) This body of literature includes fantasy, fiction, poetry, biography, history, classical philosophy and Christian theology. Western Civilization grew out of such a particular bank of wisdom that guided our ancestors in their quest to discover and pass on to future generations the ultimate values and virtues of a prosperous and harmonious society.

(Today, most people in the US are clueless, or worse, uninterested, regarding the books that were seminal in the development of Western Civilization and the founding of our nation. This helps explain much of the loss of faith, humanity, vision, identity, purpose, and the demise of all that made us a civil society that we are presently experiencing.)

As we seek to order our lives and our culture, wondering where the path of wisdom and truth lies, relying solely on our own wits and intelligence will leave us wandering down corridor after corridor of confusion and dismay. God’s wisdom, which has been providentially revealed over the ages, calls to us offering knowledge and understanding. Only the naive or foolish will ignore the offer.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


If I am not better than other men, at least I am different.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It is the “Age of Me,” where being bizarre and boisterous, uneducated and undisciplined, passes for individuality.  Members of this cult worship at the altar of self where the individual’s feelings and momentary impulses are the measure of all things. Consequently, customs and traditions are thought to be ridiculous and the code of morality upon which western civilization was established is seen as hilariously ludicrous. In the Age of Me all that matters is the individual’s instincts, rendering him more like an animal than a human created in the image of God.

It seems to me that, as a majority of people think only in terms of “being myself,” few then are asking what it means to be a human or, more specifically, to be humane.  Up until around 100 years ago, one of the chief ends of education was to facilitate the shaping of souls by introducing students to the “permanent things” regarding what it means to be genuinely human, via art, history, literature, philosophy, and even theology. However -

Today it is believed that there aren’t any permanent things, no norms of human nature and behavior, only my unique experiences and sentiments. From such uniqueness, the me-ist then develops his own personalized code of morality that, at any moment, can morph into any shape he wishes. Subsequently, yesterday’s decadence can become today’s decency with a single flash of thought or feeling. Of course, to maintain this mindset, he must reject a religious view of life or, at least, a religion that adheres to permanent things: you know, things like The 7 Cardinal Virtues or The 7 Deadly Sins.

Jettisoning a religious view of life, which includes a transcendent moral order, me-ists scurry around doing whatever is right in their own eyes. Feeling that they are expressing and asserting their individuality, they seek no guidance from the cumulative wisdom of the past and sense no obligation regarding the inheritance they are leaving future generations. There is only me and now. Tragically, such anarchical individualism leads to the destruction of souls and the disintegration of society.

Seeking to be different for difference’s sake creates psychological abnormalities, not health and wholeness. Furthermore, seeking to be “me” is not the same thing as seeking to become the individual human God created me to become. The first leads to chaos and emptiness: only the latter leads to becoming genuinely human.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What Sort of Conservative?

What is the good of words if they aren't important enough to quarrel over? Why do we choose one word more than another if there isn't any difference between them? If you called a woman a chimpanzee instead of an angel, wouldn't there be a quarrel about a word? If you're not going to argue about words, what are you going to argue about? Are you going to convey your meaning to me by moving your ears? The Church and the heresies always used to fight about words, because they are the only things worth fighting about.
- GK Chesterton

(As there are many Democrats who read this blog, many whom are dear and respected friends of mine, I am not writing to argue with or persuade you to change your mind. If you choose to read this, think of it as something that may offer some insights as to how to converse or debate with conservatives, as well as how to tell what sort of conservative you are encountering.)

Fear Based Conservatives

Fear of change These people’s fears are not so much a dread of future consequences based on principles, but simply a mindless loyalty to “how things have always worked.” Any change, for these people, is perceived as a threat to the foundations of their way of life.

Fear of Loss These men and women see their earning power dwindling, the cost of onerous regulations forcing them to charge more for their products or services, and the omen of higher taxes, and, “Dammit, this needs to end.” The problem is, however understandable, that this is a fear based gut reaction, not a principled belief in justice.

And why does this matter?

Because each of these fears belies a sense-based or sentimental conservatism that rarely has any intellectual foundation.  While you may applaud their voting for your preferred candidate or cause, such “conservatism” is ephemeral: tomorrow, they will support whoever buys off their fears with impossible promises. Remember: Fearful people vote their fears not their principles. (Note to liberals: these people are low-hanging fruit!)

Politically Ideological Conservatives

These True Believers have turned conservatism into a Political Religion - with dogmas and anathemas thrown in for free! These people are like Roger Williams (the Puritan, not the singer), whose demand for purity led him to refuse to eat the Lord’s Supper with sinners, which, at the end of his life, left him eating alone.

Conservatism is not a religion. This mindset is something that any principled conservative - from Edmund Burk to Russell Kirk – would vehemently oppose. Frankly, properly understood, it is not even an ideology. Conservatism is a mindset, a particular kind of character and approach to life, and the quest to discover and live by and for the “permanent things.” (TS Eliot) While a conservative mindset affects how one engages within the sphere of politics and political economics, it is about far more than politics.  

Instinctual Conservatives

These people’s hearts resonate with conservative principles. However, as they have yet to spend time reading and reflecting, they have no intellectual basis upon which to stand or from which to debate. Quite often this leaves them as “reeds in the wind,” not to mention lousy debaters.  (Note to liberals: higher hanging fruit but ripe with possibility.)

Principled Conservatism

Conservatism is about reverence for the permanent things: those values, precedents, and traditions that have been winnowed and sifted throughout history, where God has revealed His purposes for our existence and how societies can best live and function in harmony.

Conservatives believe in a constitutional limited government, not in populism or in “despotic democracy.” (Tocqueville)

Conservatives see an inexorable link between respect for private property and freedom.

Conservatism has a deep regard for what will make humans truly happy: virtue, not net-worth. Trust me here: if you meet a professing conservative who places no value on virtue, the public’s or his own, his conservatism is dying or already is dead, if it ever existed. (Note to {some} liberals: seize the day!)

Conservatives believe that tragedy will always be a part of human existence. While its effects can be ameliorated by the charitable acts of others, it cannot be eradicated. There are no utopias in our future.

Conservatives believe in the equality of worth of all humans before God, as well as equality before the courts. They do not believe, however, that equality of character and abilities exists, so do not advocate legislating an equality of results from demonstrably unequal people. Such equality has never existed and no matter what is legislated never will.

Conservatives believe in individuality but not individualism. Individuality is about respecting the diversity, variety, and uniqueness of all people. (This is one of the reasons for the Bill of Right’s Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Religion, and etc.) Individualism is about self-glorification (or deification) with no regard for living in community, societal harmony, or of permanent things.

Conservatives are averse to alterations of long standing norms, traditions, customs and institutions. I do not say that they are “against” change, only that they believe it should be organic - the culmination of a long and deliberative national conversation, rather than legislated by the fiat word of the Powers That Be.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016

Friday, May 6, 2016

Patriotism and Nationalism Are Not Synonyms

Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.  - Charles de Gaulle

Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on his own dunghill.  -Richard Aldington

It seems to me a lot of people are using the words “patriotism” and “nationalism,” interchangeably. I beg to differ, as these words are not synonyms. Sure, I get that some people use them as such but, given our present national conversation where so many are touting the glories of nationalism and others are hearing “patriotism” when they shouldn’t be, I think it’s time to clear up our language, as well as to ask others to define their terms.
As I understand these two mindsets:

Patriots are proud of their nation’s culture and accomplishments and, at the same time, are aware of its failures.
Nationalists only tout their nation’s glories (real and imagined) but are willfully blind or indifferent to its failures.

The antisemites who called themselves patriots introduced that new species of national feeling which consists primarily in a complete whitewash of one's own people and a sweeping condemnation of all others. – Hanna Arendt

Patriots generally respect the accomplishments and cultures of other nations.
Nationalists belittle, resent, and are belligerent toward other nations and cultures.

Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind. - Albert Einstein

Patriots are proud of their nation’s achievements, but they never, in dealing with other nations, seek to “achieve” at the expense of morality and justice.
Nationalists give no thought to right or wrong: only to what advances their nation’s interests.

Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. - George Orwell

Patriots admire and appreciate their way of life and, if needed, will fight to defend it.
Nationalists want to force other nations to adopt their nation’s way of life.

Patriots have a sense of “national responsibility.” (Adlai Stevenson)
Nationalists take no responsibility for and give no thought to the effects their nation’s actions have on other nations, as they couldn’t care less.

Nationalism is the last refuge of scoundrels.  - Winston Churchill

Patriots place duty to God, family, personal integrity, morality, and justice, high on the list of their life’s priorities, which, in turn, governs their approbation of or obedience to the state.
Nationalism is a political religion: the worship of a particular state that commands its citizens has no other gods before it.

Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many different forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. The challenge that is already with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery. – John Paul II

Nationalism is idolatry. It is also the hubristic whitewashing of evil, a lust for blood (metaphorically or literally), a justification for injustice, the validation of greed, and the road to destruction. Patriots hear calls for nationalism as a harbinger of evil and will do her or his all to stand against it.

Or so I believe …

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2016