Being liberal or conservative for reasonable people who are generally well cannot and does not mean constant agitation, enmity, and disputation over gridlocked issues until we lose all reason and collapse as a homeland, culture of excellence, and as a people with a future.
What does it mean then? There are guides to understanding this for each and all.
Unless we know ourselves, how can we heed the Shakespearean wisdom of Hamlet‘s Polonius to his son on how to be true? “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Or unless we heed Sun Tzu’s advice to know ourselves and our enemies if we are to win our battles, how can we keep our civilization, freedom and resources?
If we, being free, forget the “Know Thyself” as inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and by Aristotle saying, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom,” how will our people survive, much less thrive?
The Biblical proverb “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding..” (Proverbs 9:10) implies that the holiness of God shows us our true selves, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Proverbs verse suggests that the best way to heed Polonius’s advice is to place oneself before God’s divine Light. And that is only the beginning. To go from self-understanding toward self-mastery, scriptures bid all who will to walk in the Light, identifying unreserved love of God and others as the path from good life to good afterlife.
In East and West we see the self-knowledge secret to the beginning of wisdom repeated about this life and the next. Religions and philosophies identify varied forms, formulas, personae, and teachings. But most agree on self- understanding as a beginning of a life’s quest for wisdom’s practice.
Knowing Ourselves as Conservatives and Liberals
The ideal of becoming wiser in many things sustains a nation as a home, culture of excellence, and as a people with a future. Wrapped-up in the pursuit of wisdom is knowing the good, the greater good, and our duty to both. Who among conservatives and liberals does not want the good for their loved ones?
In earthly, material terms, both conservatives and liberals would say that they are for maintaining our homeland, a culture of excellence, and having a future. Would any reasonable conservative or liberal say they are against these basic goals for the United States and her people? Likely not.
So when we speak of being conservative and liberal in the plural ‘us,’ the unspoken truth is that all must seek self-knowledge to realize their stated ideals. All must rise from their trance, pick-up their mats, and take their first steps toward greater wisdom.
When our blessings of liberty have developed such complexity that we have become hoarders of knowledge we do not read, recall, and practice we forget wisdom about what to let go of, what to hold onto, and how to sustain good relationships. This causes division, isolation, and eventually, societal breakdown.
Symptoms of Lack of Self Knowledge
Already we have seen and heard dictatorial and mercenary mass communications driving unclarity, misunderstanding, distrust, darkness, division, and discord. The psychological warfare via personal computer is both totalitarian in effect and mercenary where done to dominate our politics, markets, and mindsets.
Yet that was not possible without many, many unwise sellouts by each and every American, top to bottom, of our ideals and principles. When self-seeking replaces wisdom-seeking, a vacuum opens in the soul for evil to take hold.
Curative Paths to Freedom
With our focus on true self-knowledge, including the beginning of wisdom about our own flaws and fatal flaws, it is possible to begin again the journey of wise living and wise self-rule from which we may intelligently identify prospective leaders. Such leaders will eschew extremes, including false-messianic representations. Such leaders will not bask in or savor glory, but favor wisdom, service to others, and good relationships.
On various levels every one of us suffers from lack of self-examination and knowledge, and therefore wisdom. That is why we find democracy works best because the wisdom of the crowd may be accessed, dictatorial pride let go, and collective effort in freedom made possible.
Inability to seek, find, and follow this wisdom has something to do with surrounding ourselves with streams of distractions from daily, even hourly time in stillness and silence inside our own hearts. To breath deeply to attain calm and reflect on the truth about our deeds, words, and state of being is the beginning of wisdom. This, as a preparation for remembering and seeking the goodness we yearn for to become real in our lives, relationships, country, and world.