In a speech that I gave on Saturday I spoke about the Left and the Right, politically speaking.
It's easier to write about a subject than speak about it because I have a backspace button when I write and I don't have to send it to my blog unless I am happy with what's inside it, which is also a fleeting feeling of accomplishment. When I read it again tomorrow I most likely hit stuff that I cannot believe I wrote and have to fix it and resubmit my blog.
Those who have read my blogs before know that I have a distinct definition for conservatives, which I have never heard others articulate before. I am not saying it's not out there, I just haven't heard it before.
Having given a definition of a conservative, I took that reasoning further in this speech, trying to find a definition of someone on the Left and someone on the Right of the political spectrum. It was well received by my audience, but it seemed to me as if it was something some of them had to swallow hard before they could digest it, if they ever did. Those who got it, expressed their enthusiastic appreciation afterwards. I wasn't alone in the dark.
My pursuit to find definitions of those on the Left and Right first took me to the Left, and I asked around. What's the definition of someone on the Left, I asked.
I received hums and ahs but no definition. Characteristics and descriptions of what they believe in, yes, plenty of them, such as collectivist, bigger government, more taxes, for the workers, liberals, progressives, socialists, and, depending on who you ask, even communists and anarchists.
So, I set off to the land of the Right and asked around for a definition.
Again, I received hums and ahs and characteristics and descriptions of what they believe in, such as individualism, lower taxes, smaller government, conservative, capitalist, and, depending on who you ask, even fascist.
Perhaps if I ask a Centrist to give me a definition of a Centrist, I could use it and figure out what the definition of someone on the Left is and similarly, figure out what the definition of someone on the Right is. So, I asked a Centrist.
That's easy, he said. We are slap-bang in the middle between Left and Right.
What are we to make of all this confusion? How will we know if someone is right or wrong? How and against what will we measure misleading leaders and distinguish them from those who are trying to keep us on track? How will we even know we are going off the track if we don't know by what to measure the track? It's like trying to fly a particular heading without a compass.
There is, however, a particular actor in this play I haven't asked. The conservative. Perhaps if I ask conservatives what it is that defines them, I could deduce the definitions of the Left, Centrist, and the Right.
A conservative is someone who is voluntarily subject or obedient to a well-defined, well publicized, universally accessible set of principles and precepts.
What? Like a doctrine?
Exactly, came the reply. A doctrine like the U.S. Constitution.
From this doctrine all the laws of the land are spawned. Our obedience to the Constitution is immediately inherited by all the laws that flow from it. That means we are equally obedient to the state and city laws as we are to the Constitution; even our local municipality's ordinances enjoy our obedience as a consequence.
This is not new, we practice the same thing with our social clubs and other associations we voluntarily belong to. We subscribe to their constitutions in which their principles and precepts are embodied, and as long as we are obedient to those principles and precepts, we remain in good standing.
If I violate the constitution of my local tennis or golf club, and I refuse to change to be more in conformance with the principles and precepts that are embodied in those clubs' constitutions, I get expelled. Or, if I insist on not bearing the image of that to which I chose to be obedient, I lose the opportunity to be an image bearer of that organization.
Expulsion for violators and rewards for those who make good on their word, keep the image bearers honest and the organization honorable, protecting its integrity, if you will.
It means I, as an individual, disappears and I become an image bearer of that in which I believe and to which I am obedient. It seems as if I surrender my individualism, but the opposite is true. My individualism is recast into the image of an American that is defined within the four corners of the image of the U.S. Constitution. If someone sees me violating the Constitution or acting against its image, I must change to conform to the image, to become a more honest bearer.
It is evident that this definition doesn't say whether one is Left or Right in the political spectrum, or whether one believes in God or a tree or Allah, or in nothing at all. It requires only that a conservative should be able to point to a well-defined, well publicized, universally accessible set of principles and precepts to which he or she is obedient. This means one can be a conservative Jew, or conservative Christian, or a conservative American because there are doctrines for all three that anyone can read and determine whether a Jew is an image bearer or not; whether a Christian is an image bearer or not. One can also judge the actions of someone who claims to be an American and determine whether he is an image bearer of the Constitution or not.
With this information I sat down and tried to see if I can formulate definitions for Left and Right wing people. I couldn't do it. There is nothing I could find by which the images that they bear could be defined. It was definitely not that of an American.
Being left or right supposes movement away from that which is clearly defined and universally accessible, which means bearing an image other than that of an American. No wonder I couldn't get a Leftist to give me a definition. No wonder I couldn't get a Right-winger to give me a definition. No wonder the Centrists were happy that they were slap-bang in the middle of these two non-entities.
There is nothing more noble to a conservative's left or right that it would be worthy of compromise for the sake of accommodating those who tug the true image bearers away from that which defines them.
It dawned on me that this definition of a conservative is not restricted to the confines of the geographical North America. Mexicans bear the image of their constitution; Englishmen do the same for Britain and so on. People bear the images of their respective countries.
What if the Constitution of the United States of America is adopted by others in the world, in other countries? Wouldn't they, too, become image bearers of America? Wouldn't they be more likely to be recognized as Americans than those who have been born here but bear images that are portrayed by foreign doctrines such as those of the old Soviet Union or Tsarist Russia, or England, or France, or even Zimbabwe?
From personal experience I know that image bearers of the United States of America can be found all over the world, yearning to be openly image bearers of this country; yearning to come here and totally immerse themselves in bearing that image which conservatives hold so dear that they would suffer and even die for the privilege and honor.
Let's be that shining light on the hilltop, that beacon that guides all who follow it to truth, liberty and prosperity.
May God Bless the United States of America.