Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Progressive Conservationism

In light of Markos's post today on conservation as a better way for us to frame environmental issues, and as a means for Democrats to chip away at the Republican voting bloc, I would like to offer something I wrote sometime last year. Although if asked, I would probably say I am a progressive democrat, at the time, I contemplated how progressive and conservative values could be brought into harmony. I think the notion of conservation, which need not only apply to environmental issues, is a wonderful start. Well here it is. Hope you enjoy:

I'm a progressive conservative. At first glance these words--progressive conservative--when viewed in combination, might seem like a contradiction, an oxymoron. That is how we are taught to believe: the great polarization in society, in our minds. "To progress" is the opposite of "to conserve."

I believe in both since both are necessary in life; together they are the dual aspects of growth. To learn something new is to progress. To remember what we have learned is to conserve. There is no contradiction. Inherent in the word "progress" is the drive to become better, to improve the design, to try to create new designs, to outdo ourselves--always moving beyond what we were, in the past; not just where we were, but essentially.

Progress implies movement. Conservation alludes to staying in play, inertia, holding on to what was, the good old days, the golden years, when times were good, people were honest, life was beckoning, there was hope and innocence buzzing in the air.

Why not?

Why not preserve the glory of the past? Why not let it mold our view of the future?

Look to the past and discover the best in it, not from one culture, but from many. Discover in the past what is great, what is conducive to life, to community, to humanity, and beyond humanity--what helps humans live in harmony with their surroundings, with each other, and with others. Let us conserve this in the face of our drive to progress, and prosper.

Disgard the rest, the destructiveness of what we were, the prejudice, the animosity, the killing, the lies and dishonesty, the covering up, the slavery and alienation. Become tolerant!

Open yourself to the vast interplay between what once was and what will be, what could be and what never was. Embrace the multiplicity while treasuring the simplicity under your lens. Preserve local knowledge and community, and let that be your link to global exchange. Innovate. Collaborate. Act with integrity.

This is my attempt to de-polarize.


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