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Enlightened Conservatism
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Enlightened Conservatism

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Understanding the Thought Process of Enlightened Conservatism

The first is the perspective, the second the goals, the third the arenas of power, and the fourth the approaches to understanding. The top triangles have sections that match exactly with them that help further divide out each of these different areas of concept. At the top of the pyramid is a perspective of character, conscience-dominating convenience implemented by individual personal responsibility. The choice of personal responsibility comes from the fact that each man must have some relationship with other men individually and collectively. How men work with each other depends on the relationship they create between them. When Christ gave the Lord’s Prayer, it started with Our Father, not Judge or Our Enforcer. It thus set the relationship. Similarly, a society sets relationships or expectations between its members. Those societies of strength have character as a base because each member can then depend on the others. If people do not accept individual responsibility, then they look not to themselves but to others to solve problems. It is someone else’s fault, and they are but victims. Collectively, the government is asked to solve problems and as government absorbs powers, in the vacuum individual rights deteriorate naturally because rights are directly tied to responsibilities for support. Economics relates to politics in the cycle as does the media / cultural values. They move in concert because they are related. The point is that also once you begin a decline in individual responsibility – it feeds upon itself because everyone is affected, like greed, it is contagious. A middle class needs to exist for Democracy; it is the basis of the market economics and the fairness of discipline in society. Individual responsibility, and the opportunity it demands, create that balance. It is weakened by concepts of victimization or a loss of civility. There is an old Texas saying that “if you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn that lesson.” If we are sued unjustly, we feel it fair to sue others. If people are rude to us, we feel obligated to stand up even more aggressively. Victimization or lack of civility are not total concepts. There are certainly times that people are victims or a hard response is needed, but judgment is required.

Similarly, courtesy is said to be contagious. To me, the Golden Rule with a dash of toleration, restraint and the habit of courtesy help fill the difference. Is the issue personal or is it principle? There is always a big difference. The point is, culture and values are constantly changing. Politics, economics, and media revert to them for they are the powerful “way” of historical movement. All enlightened conservatism tries to do is point out the relationship and the importance of the family teaching of the values of individual responsibility, integrity, and courtesy so that momentum in its direction is contagious. The importance of nonprofit organizations is immense in that they are the catalysts that pull this culture of service together, they are the caldrons of conscience that replace government and build a culture of responsibility. They help victims because it is right and needed, they look to the future (although from different perspectives) to enlighten us. In the end character determines the destiny of society.

Tieman H. Dippel, Jr.
August 2002
 
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