The Good Life, No. 5: Change

There’s a bright spot of opportunity on the horizon, but how conservatives approach it will determine whether it turns out to be a supernova of social change or merely the mirage of what could have been. The 2012 presidential election draws steadily closer, cutting its way to the front of our minds through a frenzy of scandal, speculation and sensationalism. But while candidates and commentators scramble to keep up, Americans everywhere are still trying to break with  apathy.

The apathy epidemic is likely due to disillusionment with the current administration and ubiquitous bad news. It manifests itself in widespread, self-imposed ignorance of current events (“I never read the news — it’s too depressing”), politics (“I’m above politics,” or ” I just can’t stand those dirty politicians”), and individual responsibilities (“Doesn’t the mayor/pastor/neighbor take care of that? Leave it to him”). Responsibility to a society that exhausts, marginalizes or frustrates its members becomes a burden, and so citizens turn inwards to increasingly private, individualistic lifestyles. From here, the candidate that promises to shoulder this burden becomes increasingly attractive. And, lucky for him, you do not care to know what the negative consequences of his policies could be.

Conservatives, I am talking to you! Do not succumb to the temptation to give up that years-old debate with your left-leaning cousin, to sleep in on election day (especially local ones!), or to let your subscription to the Wall Street Journal expire. We need, as a friend blessedly reminded me, to view these distressing circumstances as motivation for action, rather than an excuse to go do other things. A presidential election provides us with the much-needed opportunity to refresh our dedication to our principles and to vault them to prominence as  the beautiful remedy for rampant radical egalitarianism’s destruction.

Let me encourage you the way my friend encouraged me. Our beliefs are convictions, but, more than that, they are truths. Whether inspired by Scripture, history, or econometric models, lovers of liberty champion freedom knowing that such freedom is the key to sustainable governance, and, moreover, that liberty is the only creed worthy of a human person. Humans have shown ourselves to be great, to be geniuses and heroes and true friends. We have shown ourselves to be capable of the responsibility which accompanies the liberty we surrender so easily today. Now, when the hallmarks of our humanity are dimmed by something that smacks very much of socialism, we cannot afford to turn down the path of least resistance.

You already know what to do: read the news, hold your representatives accountable, accept that government’s operations are enumerated and limited and behave (read: vote) accordingly. Go to church. Reflect on what it means to be a human person, a citizen, a member of a community. Be inspired. Get motivated. Help your neighbor. Help yourself, for that matter — do not give the government another excuse to step in. Then spread the good news! Cultures cannot change before people do, and people are more likely to change for someone they trust and respect. Unless you are completely satisfied with the state of the Union, there is nothing better you could be doing.

Talk to Me: Are you feeling apathetic? Why? What inspires you to snap out of it, and what will you change when you do?


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