Progressives and Conservatives – A Reluctant Interdependency
From protest to counter protest, to counter counter protest, we’re going nowhere. Nothing will come out of any of them except intensifying hatred to the point of breakdown. We can keep blaming one another for all our troubles and feel good about ourselves, but righteous indignation never got anyone anywhere good. Unless we acknowledge the simple fact that hatred leads to more hatred, which eventually leads to death, we will end up in bloodshed.
We’ve built a society that doesn’t intend to achieve unity, where each one must sympathize with a certain viewpoint, party, ideology, school, etc., and part of that sympathy is expressed in refuting the other side’s merit at growing intensity. Today, that repudiation has come to a level where each side thinks that the other side is a danger to the nation, a peril to the country, to democracy, to the rule of law, to freedom of speech, and must therefore cease to exist.
When you build a society where merit is on the side with the most strength, the side that’s currently on top, you sentence yourself to live by the sword and die by the sword, or the bullet. The reason for the downfall of every great nation since the dawn of history has been just that: Its rulers deemed only their own perspectives worthy, and denied the merit of any other viewpoint. But contrary to common belief, when you extinguish your rival, you don’t rest on your laurels, you sentence yourself to extinction.
Each of us thinks that he or she is right. This is our nature: I think so, therefore I am right, to paraphrase Descartes’ words. But we forget that we’re all made of the same stuff. The same program that designed, molded, and generated me, designed, molded and generated everyone else. The program, known as “nature,” designed us all slightly different not so we would fight each other to death, but so we would complete the picture together. Nature needs all its facets, and especially the most extreme opposites, in order to define and express all its subtleties. You wouldn’t be able to define “day” in the absence of “night,” “cold” in the absence of “hot,” “love” in the absence of “hate,” and “life” in the absence of “death.”
Likewise, you wouldn’t be able to define “progressive” in the absence of “conservative,” or “faithful” in the absence of “agnostic.” Our opposites are vital to us because without them, we cannot know who we are or even articulate our thoughts about ourselves.
It turns out that we are dependent on all the ones that we detest, despise, and demonize because without them, we ourselves would not exist as human beings. We’re living in a dual system through and through.
But there is a good reason for the perpetual dissent: It forces us to turn our attention to the common program that created us—to nature.
Nature is completeness that’s made of united opposites. When we think of unity, we think of the closeness of hearts and minds. But this is not unity; it is sameness. And just as you don’t unite with your own reflection in the mirror, you don’t unite with someone who resembles you in every way. You feel close to that person, but it’s not because you are united, it’s because you are similar. This may feel good, but it leads to stagnation and eventual decadence. To achieve growth, there must be two opposites that challenge one another.
Therefore, unity is the joint effort of two opposites to bond with one another despite their initial animosity. Their oppositeness cannot, and must not be erased, or it will become sameness. To unite, the two sides must value each other’s existence since without the other party, neither would exist. And that appreciation creates a new kind of closeness that exists alongside the animosity.
Also, the two parties must appreciate their unity more than their inherent animosity or they will revert back to mutual destruction. King Solomon put it succinctly in his immortal words, “Hate stirs strife, and love will cover all crimes” (Prov. 10:12).
It is very easy to fall prey to hate. Hating feels great; there aren’t many emotions more satisfying than self-righteousness. But we must always remember that it is a bait we must not bite into. If we do, we will fall into decadence and disintegrate. If we resist the temptation to hate, and acknowledge that the other side exists so as to turn our attention to the nature that created both of us, we will connect to that nature and realize our full potential as human beings.