There’s a myth that’s circulating in the Church. It is old yet ever-new. I’m sure you’ve heard it. It goes something like this:
“Conservatives and liberals in the Church need to respect each other, because they each get something right. Conservatives are more focused on abortion and protecting the sanctity of marriage and sexuality, which is good, but liberals are more focused on helping the poor and protecting the environment, which is also good. Everyone brings something to the table, and if they would just stop building walls and start building bridges, they could come together and recognize what the other side offers. That way they’ll help a lot more people.”
That’s the gentler way of putting it. There’s a more sarcastic way of putting it from the people who don’t even pretend not to be liberals, which essentially goes like this:
“Conservatives have a two-track mind. The only issues they ever talk about are abortion and gay marriage. They don’t care about starving children and the environment. How ironic that they claim to be pro-life! We’re the ones who really care about people (plus we get brownie points for being green).”
The very first thing that needs to be said here is that abortion should not even be considered an “issue.” Murder isn’t considered to be an “issue,” and abortion is nothing less than murder, so Christians have no right to treat it like some kind of separate, knotty debate that deserves its own little category. The world thinks it’s complex and controversial. It’s not. End of subject.
Secondly, I avoid the phrase “gay marriage,” since it’s an intrinsically nonsensical phrase, like a square circle. Moreover, conservatives didn’t go out and pick a fight with the homosexuals. The homosexuals came to us and demanded that we normalize and bless their relationships. All that we have done is push back.
Add to that that the statement is just false. Conservatives don’t have a “two-track mind,” because there are lots of other human life issues we talk about, like euthanasia, assisted suicide, and embryonic stem cell research. So the “you’re so narrow” argument falls flat on its face to begin with.
Now, with all that out of the way, let’s talk about this “poverty and the environment” business. I want you, my fellow conservatives, to take all the leftist claptrap you’ve ever read on those issues… and promptly flush it down the nearest eco-friendly toilet. Which is really a normal toilet, the kind liberals don’t want you to use because it’s supposedly bad for the environment.
See, here’s what naive Christians need to realize: All that stuff about how liberals care about the poor and the environment and conservatives don’t? Hogwash. Have you ever wondered exactly why people in impoverished third-world countries are still starving and dying? I’ll give you a hint: It has nothing to do with the apathy of rich capitalists or the religious right. And it has everything to do with the left.
In order to have food, you need to grow it. And in order to grow it, you need land. Seems reasonable, right? Not if the liberals have their way. In South America, farmers are unable to clear away the jungle, because according to the environmentalists, trees are more important than humans. In Africa, wild animals roam around on land specially reserved for them, and humans are unable to move where the beasties are, because according to the animal rights activists, animals are more important than humans. In Indonesia, people are literally forbidden to defend themselves against predatory komodo dragons, because komodo dragons are more important than humans. And the outlawing of DDT has caused impoverished people around the world to die of malaria.
Does that sound like liberal policy-makers care about the poor? I’ll let you decide.
But, but… the greedy capitalists are stuffing themselves with fast food while little children are on the streets of Pakistan begging for bread! We waste enough food to feed the world!It’s true, we are the richest nation in the world. We also happen to be, BY FAR, the most generous. Do you have any idea just how much aid we have pumped into those starving third-world nations over the years? Hint: a lot. But has it made any observable difference? No. And I’ll tell you why. It’s very simple: government. Third-world countries suffer because they are ruled by despotic governments who keep everything for themselves. We send boat-loads of aid, and where does it go? Into the hands of the guys with the guns. Because they’re in charge. I’ll make a bet with you that the next ten activists you see rambling about the plight of the poor won’t even mention the enormous causal role of dictatorial, kleptocratic governments.
See, the world economy is not a zero-sum game. Americans have more wealth than third-world countries because our economic system is dramatically more robust. There is no sense in which we are “stealing resources” from anybody. And the fact that we have more means that we give more—more than any other country in the world by a wide margin.
On the home front, the liberals’ idea of helping the poor is giving them welfare and making everything free (i.e., “free,” because nothing is truly free in this world). The damage these ideas have done cannot be over-emphasized. Welfare encourages people to remain in a state of poverty so they can receive free hand-outs. That does not show compassion for the poor. It hurts them, badly. It also discourages marriage because single mothers receive money for every child they have. One girl having multiple children out of wedlock was documented as saying, matter-of-factly, “My mom tells me I’m the breadwinner.” And making anything free means that you will run out of that thing, given enough time. It’s true for orange juice, it’s true for health care. And where will the poor be when that time comes?
As far as the rich are concerned, liberals’ main goal seems to be to make them less rich. It’s all about the gap between the classes, and if they can narrow that gap by taxing the daylights out of the people at the top, it doesn’t matter if the poor are no better off than they were before. The fact is that without people with capital who can create businesses and jobs, Joe the Oppressed Lower-Class Worker is out of luck. As Rush Limbaugh says, the cause of poverty is the unequal distribution of capital… ism.
Back to the environment, let’s think about a few leftist policies that are supposed to help in that area: Recycling? Well, what do you think all those trucks run on, Coca-Cola? Some liberals even admit that recycling is completely impractical as far as helping the environment is concerned, but it’s all about the psychological feeling of satisfaction it gives to people. It’s a sacrament. Low-flow toilets? Oh yes, did I mention that there are some third-world countries where the liberals won’t allow first-world sewage systems to be installed? Real hygienic and eco-friendly, that. Low-energy light bulbs? Perfect, now we can put mercury into the air. Oh, here’s a good one: We can’t drain the swamps (or, excuse me, wetlands), because it’ll destroy the mosquitoes’ habitat, and mosquitoes are more important than humans (of course). Isn’t that a stroke of genius? Let’s leave the wetlands so that the mosquitoes can breed and breed. If that doesn’t give us a healthy atmosphere, nothing will. And don’t even get me started on the global warming farce (which is just about the nicest word I can come up with to describe it).
The problem is that nobody thinks practically and logically anymore. It’s all about shallow sound-bites and shallow emotional reactions. I’m not saying that there are no well-intentioned liberals among the masses. Yes, some liberals are evil, but some are just confused people who mean well but have regrettably drunk the kool-aid on these issues. The problem is that the group who talks the loudest about poverty and the environment isn’t necessarily the group with the best ideas about how to actually help the poor and the environment. Because they’re just wrong—about everything. They have a stunted conception of human sin and evil. Their thinking is fuzzified by moral equivalency. Their priorities are skewed (notice that in this plug urging people to get involved with an organization called Project 7 and “pick their favorite cause,” not a single cause is related to protesting/fighting the murder of innocent children, disabled and elderly). They don’t understand basic economics. They don’t even understand basic science.
“I’m sure we could solve all the world’s problems if we only cared enough.” That’s their mantra. They think there is a solution for everything: their solution. And if you’re not on board with their solution, you don’t care. (Which is a lie. How many conservatives can you think of who have adopted children, given generously to charities, or become involved with organizations like Compassion International? More than a few.) But the truth has harder edges, because there are no solutions. There are only tradeoffs and compromises.
Unfortunately, some conservatives still want to earn the approval of at least some people on the left. So they feel obligated to say that the left gets something right that the right doesn’t so that they can solemnly lecture both sides about how they need to shake hands and work together. That makes them feel balanced, wise and reasonable. The reality is much less balanced than they think.
So my message to Christian conservatives is this: Stop worrying about pleasing the left. Stop feeling guilty for being a conservative. Stop assuming that everyone has to be right about something. Because some people really are just wrong about everything.