Read an article in an old Buddhist magazine where the author poses the
question, "Isn't environmental conservation just another form of
attachment?" You don't necessarily have to be a Buddhist to understand the
significance of the statement, as sometimes even liberals can degenerate
into dogmatic, close-minded zealots…
The article suggests that maybe we should stop using inflammatory words in
an effort to better communicate. Perhaps we need to take a step back and
analyze and re-evaluate our own political view-points in order to better
understand our positions so that we can better figure out the best
compromises to improve our world.
You may label me as a social liberal or a fiscal conservative, but more
than either of those labels, I'm a political pragmatist. Let me tread some
oily water with the following example…
Take abortion. I have an old friend who was raped while in college. She was
obviously upset and needed the support of her family. Her father told her
not to come home pregnant, and her mother found a location for a
black-market abortion… The procedure (if you dare call it that) went
wrong, and she drove thousands of miles from Colorado to Vermont with a
chop stick embedded inside her. When she arrived home, she was immediately
placed in the hospital, and barely survived the infection and the ordeal.
I'm not sure if we overturn Roe vs. Wade whether we would return to such
dark ages, so to make sure, I believe in the legality of abortion, However,
I also don't believe in abortion. That's right, I think it is wrong to
kill a fetus, but I believe in practical politics, and accept that it is
fine to choose the lesser of two evils. Hell, that is how I feel every four
years at the presidential election.
I suppose that if I was much of an idealist, I would want all teenagers to
be as much of a social misfit as I was, so that they wouldn't have a chance
of passing a nasty disease or virulent seed, but that just isn't practical.
I think it is better to get every teenager on birth control even if it
sends the "wrong message" than to end up with either an abortion or a high
Sure I'll concede that there are many babies born outside of standard
marriages that grow up to be wonderful people. But given how difficult it
is to just grow up good, I'd like to see them given the best card deal
So much for lengthy examples. Back to my original, albeit shorter, subject.
I think it is important to taint our ideals and realize that the only way
to improve the world is through compromise. Sure I don't want every forest
in the Northwest cut down, but I also don't want starving families. Surely
there is a compromise… a middle ground. The answer is usually the balance
in the middle, and the sooner you can see it, the better.
In an interview with Tony Kushner ("Why Politics and Purity Don't Mix" in
the July/August 2004 issue of the Utne Reader), he sums it up very nicely:
The principle of realpolitik is that politics isn't an expression of
your personal purity. Politics is about compromise. People need to
understand that politics is very much a matter of the lesser of two evils,
It is this sort of compromise that prompted me to become a Democrat
(at least for this election). Of course I wish principles, morals, and
other fuzzy, feel-good characteristics could be held by our politicians,
but I don't think it is possible to maintain any idealistic purity and get
very far in politics.
So compromise yourself and make the world a better place to live.
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