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Is it difficult to be a conservative? That’s the question I was asking myself this morning. It seemed like an odd question, like some hidden part of me invading my psyche and challenging me to look at the truth.
The question seems strange because it’s like asking myself if it’s hard to breathe, or if it’s hard to exercise regularly — uh, well, no that one really is hard. But then I realized there are, for me, responsibilities, limitations, and even difficulties with my wearing the conservative mantle. (Many of you may choose to substitute “conservative” with “Republican,” because they are similar, but in certain cases, the distinction matters.)
It’s also one thing to hold certain values, but to practice them and own up to them can be something quite different and awkward. Conservative values, after all, don’t include moral relativism, nurtured emotion, distortions, and lies. It calls us to be upright citizens, to honor the Constitution, morality, and truth.
So when is it hard for me to be a conservative? When I’m dealing with people who aren’t conservative, or who don’t know what they are. Or when I’m with a person who defines conservatism differently than I do. You could say that we conservatives are not creating the dissension, but our holding to our beliefs with determination and commitment certainly contributes to the strain in relationships.
It’s hard to be a conservative when I have to limit the ideas I discuss with others: we can’t talk about values, laws, customs, or culture because none of those areas is free of politics anymore. As a person who is curious, eager to learn, and friendly, conservativism requires me to be discerning about whom I share with. That means a relationship with a person I disagree with has built-in roadblocks. I don’t like that fact.
But I’m committed to being a conservative, to honoring and living my values. I also value harmonious relationships with friends and family. So, estrangement, whether I like it or not, is part of the equation.
It’s just hard sometimes to be a conservative.