Sunday, August 04, 2013
The Dance Goes On
Today our national legislature, or at least one part of it, is paralyzed because of its inability to find compromises between two very different ideologies. An ancient model occurs to me: the conflict between Athens and Sparta in Greece. The Athenians believed in democracy - well, sort of, even though their slaved didn't take part in it. The Spartans believed in the disciplined life, in which military type obedience was expected of every citizen.
The Athenians practiced and enjoyed literature, art, philosophy, and other amenities of the comfortable life. The Spartans practice stoicism, bearing the burdens and pains of life without complaint. The Spartans had no time for such "bleeding heart" sentiments as caring for the disables. If a woman gave birth to a crippled or otherwise disabled child, that child was killed. One story I recall is that crippled babies were thrown down from a high hill.
This reminds me of the two dominant ideologies in our Congress: liberalism and conservatism. Modern liberals advocate measures to support the less fortunate citizens, care for those who are sick or disabled, and tolerance of diverse viewpoints about anything and everything. Modern conservatives advocate a society in which each person pulls his own weight and the unfortunate, sick, injured, and disables are left to fend for themselves as well as they can. The conservative belief is that providing any form of government (i.e., social) assistance for the unfortunate simply discourages hard work, looking for and taking jobs that don't pay well or involve strenuous effort or dangerous working conditions, and living a healthy life style. In other words, the conservative believes that each person gets what he or she deserves. If you're poor you didn't work hard or save enough money. If you're fat, you ate too much of the wrong kind of food. Forgiveness and generosity is absent in the strictly conservative viewpoint.
Anyway, that's my rant for the day. Comments, please!