"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.... Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."- François Marie Arouet (Voltaire)
Those two quotes pretty much sum up why this raging liberal makes a habit of actively seeking the writings and opinions of raging conservatives. Stressing the latter quote also explains why I bother to read a blog I discovered called "girl on the right". It is an act of respect for the clarity and drive with which she demonstrates her dedicated convictions. I disagree with nearly every opinion evidenced on her page and yet I loved reading it for the simple reason that it provoked thought.
I remember the more radical liberal friends of my salad days being aghast that I would deliberately struggle forth early on a Sunday morning through the fog of a hangover and wake all the living room campers by tuning-in to the local PBS station to watch arch-conservative William F. Buckley's snake-like darting tongue punctuate his elegantly fascist rhetoric.
Most of my groggy and rumpled friends would lumber forth from the place they fell the night before and stand glaring at the screen with puffy eyes for a few seconds and then stumble away toward the coffee smell, usually with a parting complaint such as, "Why do you watch that fascist pig?" or something equally astute and considered. I would respond with something facile such as, "Because he's a great speaker"...which of course he was.
I was (and am) that rara avis of mankind...someone capable of admiring the beauty of ideas completely at odds with my own. This ability I think stems from not being threatened by those ideas because I have an internal confidence in my own. Put simply, I am not an "ideo-phobe".
I do not believe in absolutes nor objective realities per se. All realities are subjective because they are perceived, and consensual because the human mind is an artifact of a collective animal we call humanity, not that of independent human individuals.
Truth and bullshit are always co-extant in every reality; bullshit being that aspect of reality which we can not find a positive utility for at the moment. For example, as one matures one discovers that what was complete bullshit in youth somehow has become self-evident truth in middle age.
Nothing is quite so scary or fascist as the harshly clean black and white opinions of the 18 year old proselyte of whatever stripe. Everyone hates being stopped by a rookie cop for good reason; namely, robotic inflexibility. Though I am ardently what I call a "pragmatic socialist", nothing turns me off more than listening to some enthused young communist party worker at my door sophomorically spouting 1930's party rhetoric on behalf of the world's workers. Slam.
On the other hand, I am more than willing to entertain propositions from folk who are capable of delivering their convictions from a reasoned platform based on "faith". I am not using the term faith here to necessarily indicate religiosity, but rather in the sense an "allegiance" to a principle or idea. The most important ingredient that will make someone else's faith palatable (and for which I have the highest respect) is integrity.
Finally, the title of this post is meant to assert that conservatives and liberals need one another to produce "living truths"; truths which transcend mere static axioms. Nothing produces new ideas so readily as argument.
Liberals and conservatives balance one another and serve to keep the extremes of each in check. The greater the potential of difference between the poles of a battery, the more energetic the battery can be said to be. The trick is to recognize that our polar opposites are a necessary part of the same battery.
"No man is an island...he's a peninsula." - Jefferson Airplane