“For The Lord’s sake, respect all human authority: whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.”
That’s from the New Living Translation of 1 Peter 2:14. Those are words of wisdom. I’m not sure how my Democratic friends and neighbors will view this op-ed column of mine, but this bears repeating. I say what I mean – and I mean what I say. And what I’m saying is this: we Americans are far more alike than we think. In yesterday’s column, I made the intellectual argument that all Americans are liberal. Today, I’m reversing course because we’re all conservatives.
Conservatism is defined as a political and social philosophy which promotes the retention of traditional social institutions as they relate to culture and civilization. Conservatives believe that societal order must be preserved, and they typically oppose efforts to bring about profound societal change. Folks, there’s nothing wrong with that concept. In theory, it makes a lot of sense. The methodology is where the flaws reside.
I’m a Democrat, a progressive, and a liberal. Here’s the flip side of that coin: I’m actually conservative in many aspects of my life, and I’m willing to bet that you are, too. Need proof?
Consider me. I’m conservative when it comes to social settings. Don’t look for Reverend Jones at your favorite bar, nightclub, or at certain restaurants (like Hooters). If I cook better than the head chef of an eating establishment, there’s no need for me to patronize said establishment. I’m conservative in how I dress. I’m conservative in how I spend my money. I observe the laws of man in general, and the laws of God in particular. You cannot do or say anything you wish without consequences. Wouldn’t you agree?
Consider American society in the postmodern world. We all like a certain degree of order – or normalcy – in our lives. That’s the case in our finances, our relationships, our hobbies, our workplaces, the state of our mind-body-spirit, and even in our houses of worship. It isn’t that we fear change per se. Many people like change to occur incrementally over time. However, it’s very easy to get comfortable. It’s not hard to find an individual or an institution entrapped in the clash of tradition/history/culture versus changing times.
Consider patriotism. I remember the days immediately following 9/11. I lived in suburban Atlanta at the time. Everywhere I went then, I saw American flags displayed. I saw Americans – friends and strangers, young and old, black and white – being kind to one another. I recall the great sense of community everyone seemed to take part in. We were all in that struggle together. We were all unified firmly behind President George W. Bush. We were all conservatives.
Consider our system of laws. No matter what you hear on the evening news or read in the newspaper, Americans respect law enforcement officers. I don’t even think that’s up for debate. Police lives matter. All lives matter. I would like nothing more than for every cop in every city to go home safely at the end of his/her shift every single day until their retirement. I would love it if every man, woman, and child in every neighborhood of every municipality were always safe in their homes and on their streets. Sadly, neither is the case. As long as human beings are charged to protect and serve, some will not live up to the honor their badge commands. As long as human beings live and work in our cities and towns, some will choose not to obey our laws and statutes. The police are still worthy of our respect and compliance. Citizens still deserve to be treated in a dignified manner by peace officers. Some things change, but other things remain the same. After all, every American is conservative.
Think of our Governors, Senators, Congressmen, and Presidents. I love them all. Where I’m from, these people are admired because they’re our legislators and representatives. They’re who we entrusted to help keep our nation great. The gridlock and partisanship of the past few years has been deeply disappointing. Perhaps our leaders don’t realize how special they truly are. Maybe they’ve forgotten that we’re all conservatives. I wonder if it would make a difference if they remembered.
All of us have red blood flowing warmly through our veins. We shed tears from the whites of our eyes whenever we cry. We love the sight of a clear blue sky on a sunny day. In these ways, we’re all the same.
In closing, I respect all human authority – for The Lord’s sake, your sake, my sake, and for Pete’s sake. It’s the right thing to do. I’m a conservative – just like you.