I’ve always been amused by liberals’ belief in ‘rights’ of various sorts. No one has a right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. The only thing they have a right to is the money they earned that day, and that only in a limited sense; the liberty purchased at the cost of lives in the last war, and that only for a brief period; the right to fair treatment, but only if they earn it; the right to medical care, only if society can afford it.
Does a bird have the right to fly? Do trees have a right to sunshine? Does an infant have a right to good parents? Squirrels a right to cross the road in safety?
Liberals get all exercised that people’s rights get violated. This presumes they have rights. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights say so. But what are they? What does the Universe care? They are statements of wishes and hopes. They have power, like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, only so long as everyone believes in them.
The problem is, many Americans no longer believe in them, or understand them, or even know what we are talking about. Our school system, our teachers, our ‘educators’ who create the basic social and civic glues that hold our society together, have failed in their most important task - which is to teach our future citizens about these things and their importance to our way of life, and to reinforce that belief so that we may all participate in its benefits.
Many conservatives, or probably more properly the Taliban wing of the Republican party, no longer hold such beliefs, or even know what they are or what they mean and why they are important. They have regressed to a Machiavellian state of political philosophy where might makes right. Their belief system reminds me of a passage in Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card:
"There is no teacher but the enemy. No one but the enemy will ever tell you what the enemy is going to do. No one but the enemy will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy shows you where you are weak. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the only rules of the game are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you. I am your enemy from now on. From now on I am your teacher."
-- Mazer Rackham to Ender Wiggin.
Many members of organized religion in the Middle East and in the U.S. no longer hold the Enlightenment beliefs of our Founding Brotherhood, or of the old Islamic empire, either. They believe that God’s ‘laws’ are more important than Man’s laws. The gods of the Christians and Muslims have gained power, because they have gained believers. The gods of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution have lost power, because they have lost believers.
Democrats worry too much about equality, Republicans worry too much about money. Liberals need to learn to live with the distinction James Fenimore Cooper makes when he said that “Equality, in a social sense, may be divided into that of condition, and that of rights. Equality of condition is incompatible with civilization, and is found only to exist in those communities that are but slightly removed from the savage state. In practice, it can only mean a common misery.
Ultimately, Truth and Reality are the most powerful gods. Unfortunately, the god of Reason has been replaced in both the Middle East and in the U.S. by the god of Faith. Today Truth, Reality and Reason are wounded and weakened by ignorance and faith, by loyalty to persons, instead of loyalty to Truth.
The Democrats’ behavior recently reminds me of a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat, in Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
"Chesire Puss," she began, rather timidly, ... "Would you tell me, Please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where -" said Alice
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"- so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
Republicans and Democrats both need desperately, for their own ultimate salvation, to understand Jesus and Gandhi, and to decide whether they are of the Brotherhood of the Dark, or of the Brotherhood of the Light, described by John Crowley in Daemonomania:
“There are the dark brotherhoods, the unknown ones, who go down into those lands that are not under the earth's skin of soil but are nevertheless deep down; who give chase, who follow after those whom they are bound to pursue, to whom they are joined through time in an enmity that is not different from love. And there are also the light brotherhoods, who go the upward ways, and they are also unknown. Over their lifetimes - over many lifetimes, it might be - these have built for themselves, by thought and by works, a body of light; a body that beyond death can arise through all the spheres like an ark, and escape the jealous rulers. They know the right words to say, they don't drink at the silver river and forget whence they have come and whither they go, and so they don't need to turn back and do it all again.
“And yet among them are a few who, knowing all this, nevertheless do return here below, for our sakes. How many? Only one in any age, whose name is known to all though not his nature? Or numbers of them, enough so that every one of us will one day be touched by one? Anyway they return, not once but many times, and they will go on returning - not recycled out of hylic ignorance and forgetfulness but turning back by choice from that shore, each time more reluctantly, with deeper pangs, and only because so many of us still remain behind.”
The leadership of the Republican Party are making the wrong choice out of profound ignorance. The leadership of the Democratic party haven’t made a choice, out of moral cowardice. Their choices are leaving behind more and more people.