Traditional Values

My disagreements with the Party have inspired some to question my conservative “bona fides” in ways that make those who know me chuckle.  Here are a few of the pinko-liberal values that guide my life and annoy my Yankee neighbors.

A man has the primary responsibility to see that his wife and children have their needs met.  Does that mean Mrs. Cleaver has to stay home and cook and keep her mouth shut like a good girl?  No, but it means that night at the drive-in when Mr. Cleaver rocked her world in the back seat of his bright-red Chevy (I LOVED that episode!), he signed up to an obligation that could last a lifetime.  Regardless what anyone else chose to do, or actually did, from that day forward he acquired a duty that wouldn’t go away.

Kids have the best odds of happiness and success growing up in a family with both a mother and a father.  Their odds get even better with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and a healthy, caring church and community around them.

What I want in life to make me feel good is subordinate to a matrix of duties.  Some of those responsibilities I chose, like my marriage and my kids.  Others I was born to like the duty to earn a living, political participation, support for my community, and respect for my parents, my family and my country.  I may change my mind about whether I like those obligations, but that won’t make them go away.  My only real choice is whether I will fulfill them or shirk them onto someone else’s shoulders.

My sense of honor is dependent on my performance against my obligations.  Honor is very important.

People need religion.  I can’t tell you how many atheists I’ve met who are every bit as blindly religious as my Pentecostal friends.  Yea, there are lots of reasons not to like religion.  Almost all of them apply to the way it’s misused.  Those reasons are very similar to list of reasons not to like chainsaws, but my Poulan still has its purpose.

Complain about religion all you want, but it seems to me that all too often the people who proclaim most loudly that they don’t need it have just invented their own.  Like chainsaws, religions are best when they are tried and tested over time.  Building your own can come off badly.

Healthy religion inspires a sense of perspective – a humility and compassion that comes from appreciating one’s genuine scale in the universe.  It also creates ties to the community and the past that are very difficult to manufacture any longer through other means.  The fact that unhealthy religion exists or even predominates says less about our need for religion than it does about the state of our culture.

Healthy religion opens, rather than closes, your eyes.  It does not offer certainty.  Combine religion and certainty and people get hurt.  Healthy religion helps us cope with the ambiguities of life without going insane.  It does not make those ambiguities go away.

I should pay for the things I consume.  The costs of my actions should rest on my own shoulders.  That means I shouldn’t count on government to provide me a living.  It also means I shouldn’t count on government to help me duck the consequences of my choices.  That applies to my economic as well as my moral choices.  I shouldn’t shirk the real costs of using oil to power my life any more than I should ask the government to raise my kids.  I should not be casual about external costs.

Middle class values are a better guide for public policy than the values of the rich or the poor.

Childhood is overrated and has come to last waaayyyy too long.  It’s time we all began to appreciate the importance of growing up.  Peter Pan needs to quit playing with fairies and get a job.

Tattoos last forever, but they don’t look good for long.  That stupid disk in your earlobe makes me nauseous.  It leaves me wanting to buy my fine coffee somewhere else.

Animals deserve our respect and protection because they are delicious.

Kids should play outside as much as possible.  They should ride bikes and catch bugs and swim and fish.  They should show respect to authority figures and elders and should in turn be treated with love and respect.  They should learn about work and money as early as practical.  I’m not raising boys.  I’m raising men.  Men are becoming rare.

America is special.  That’s not a myth or a conceit, just a fact.  We did not make America what it is.  It was given to us by others.  Built by a people who fought to break free from culture, crown, and clerics, America is constructed on the principle of enlightened self interest. But we did not inherit this gift complete.  They gave it to us with problems to solve.  It is up to us in our time to advance the dream as best we can and hand it on, strong and prosperous to those who will follow.

I have been blessed by God with the foresight to recognize these absolute, objectively superior rules for living.  Strangely enough though, these rules seem to not always work as well for other people as they do for me.  Weird.  As a consequence, my politics is guided by the belief that other people should have as much freedom as possible to find their own way in the world.  I resist the powerful urge to use government as a cudgel to beat people into living my by convictions.

Real freedom means letting my neighbor make decisions I don’t like about matters that are none of my business.

But still, that tattoo is gonna look ridiculous when you’re fifty.


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