Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moral choices

Lot's of people embrace grand ideals or all explaining ideologies. But satisfied with that, they become morally infantile. They refuse to compromise, insult their opponents and isolate themselves on the perch of their own solipsism.
David Brooks is as close to conservative as the New York Times allows on their staff. He isn't standard issue conservative -- not no tax or die, not libertarian -- but some free third way that will not accept the tropes of the left or the right. He is pro-science and pro-community with an emphasis on not throwing out tradition -- but allowing tradition to thicken, branch and change when it needs to.

I loved this quote about politics that I took from a column he wrote about the new Lincoln movie. The way he uses the word "moral" here is striking. As he presents it morality is a grown-up concept that can survive complications and power. Rather the moral politician draws into him or her self what is needed to alchemize a solution -- and morality looks complex and adult-- without absolutes. In fact often the next problem gets set up, and you have Johnson, signing a bill for voting rights and knowing he is losing the South for Democrats.

In thinking about the moral strands that come together at such times, it seems natural that such people would attract assassination. They attain a status where they become religious figures. Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi did great things but died by assassins after them for "morally infantile" reasons.

These are important ideas to keep in mind as we, Unitarian Universalists, often on the religious left's far margins, often being advocates and staking out territory that isn't mainstream, move in the world. We need to remember that compromises are needed.We need to sometimes stop and pray for our leaders and opponents, even when they do not do what we want. We need to avoid small 'm' morality that insults the opposition and isolates us.

We need to keep our balance in this complex world.

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