Saturday, November 20, 2010

If you don't like Cranky Leila, then skip this post.

For the context of why I am writing this post, please go to the previous post and read the exchange of comments which follow it.

Sometimes I assume that people just get what I am talking about. I make every effort to write with almost absurd clarity.

And yet I guess I am not clear or precise enough. I've noticed, on multiple occasions, that certain liberals object when I call them liberals. Apparently, it doesn't do justice to the nuance of who they are. It is not 100% representative of what they believe on every single subject and subset of subjects that might be broached even tangentially. I am ignorant for using such a broad term. I am unjustly smearing them with a generalization. How could I not understand the complexity of human thought and the subtle layers of human experience?

Oh, my.

Where do I begin?

Since no two people on earth share identical views, then I guess we -- all of us -- defy description. I myself identify as a conservative, yet I have two or three liberal views. Can we continue talking? Can I still call myself a conservative? Or is that too simplistic? Maybe, since we all defy any pat definition, we should simply remain silent.

I've been informed that there are political distinctions (liberal vs. conservative) as well as religious distinctions (fundamentalist vs. atheist). And, that within those distinctions, there are more distinctions. Did the informer believe that I was unaware of these myriad distinctions? Is it possible that I already understand things that are... obvious? Isn't it sort of a given, and don't most people understand, that someone could be fiscally conservative and socially liberal? I don't usually state things that are a given; perhaps I need to start?

For the sake of extra-super-triple-dee-duper-bionic clarity, let me categorize a bit more, just to prove that I can see distinctions (wait, I am the girl who likes distinctions, remember?). Here is my little breakdown....

If you are fiscally liberal and socially liberal, I will call you a liberal or a leftist. Basically, these are the folks who are the "true believers." They are the movers and shakers of the Democratic Party in America, and they comprise its base.

If you are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, I will call you a libertarian. Are you for small government, fewer taxes and regulations? For abortion rights and gay marriage? This is you, baby.

If you are fiscally liberal and socially conservative, I will call you a populist. Why? I don't know, it's the best I can come up with. Catholics traditionally fell into this category, before the Democratic Party abandoned these blue collar principles.

If you are fiscally conservative and socially conservative, I will call you a conservative. I will call myself a conservative, too.

Now, I could keep on breaking down categories until this post fell off the page, just to prove that I actually do understand that people are not one-dimensional. You know, cuz most conservatives think people are one-dimensional, or so I've been told.

(As for religious categories? I haven't touched on that. That is for another post.)

And by the way, I lied. I am not going to use those terms after all. Unless you truly insist. But generally speaking (and I love to speak generally), if you are part of the Democratic base, then I think it's safe to call you a liberal or a leftist.

If you need every nuance of your thought process exposed before we can even begin a conversation, then this may not be the blog for you. Although I hope you will stay anyway, and realize that we can dialogue without all the complexity and complication you seem to require.

Now, before you instruct me in the ways of the world, please know that I understand the following:

Life experiences are complex.
Human emotions are complex.
Individual ideology and integration are complex.

But ideas?

Ideas are not complex.

This blog is about ideas.

Before the liberals (I said it!!) get all upset with my simple-minded approach to the vast complexity of....everything, just stay tuned. Because as soon as I get through Thanksgiving, I plan another post that will carefully, probingly address the simple idea that ideas are simple.

Whew. I feel better now. :)

I'll try to leave Cranky Leila home next time.

*Update: Chesterton's got my back on this!


  1. I've noticed that many "liberals" (yes I used the word, but notice I said "many" so as not to OVER-generalize :P) don't like themselves to be put into a generalized category, but they have no problem doing it to the more public conservatives.
    As a good friend of mine always says (and she also attended a small Top 5 liberal arts college), "liberals are much more close-minded than they proclaim to be."

  2. Ditto TCIE. I kind of like cranky Leila (since you aren't cranky at me :))

  3. Go, Leila! :) I agree with TCIE as well, and I think the problem of categorization also has to do with the fact that so many liberal are of the opinion that truth varies from situation to situation depending on the circumstances. So to categorize someone just doesn't feel right when there is almost always an exception to the rule...

    I personally find this world view exhausting...objective truth is liberating in its own right!

  4. Mr. Rogers once said, "I feel strongly that deep and simple is far more essential thank shallow and complex."

  5. Hi Leila!!!!
    It took me one hour to read the previous and present post. Phew.
    Megan made a very good point. For the reader who stands in direct oposition to your world view (do you like that definition approach rather than the categorical label approach?), and if truth varies from situation to situation, then every conversation with someone outside of your world view will always potentially produce frustration. It's a matter of different definitions applying to the same words and the same language. Then, mix the admitted crankiness or any emotion into the interplay.

    I've read many of the other threads here. By comnparison, crankiness does jade our perspective by throwing emotion into the pot! Or maybe not. I am wondering if a lot of emotion might possibly affect our ability to think clearly at that moment. For me it does. I wonder if PZ was also a bit cranky?
    Best of all, Lelia, you were not uncharitable, just honest. And best of all, you stated you would pray about it.

  6. I do think liberals love to be "special." They love to have special circumstances, with special ideas and thus deserve special treatment. One of my favorite things to tell my children is: "You're special...just like everyone else." A little humility goes a long way...

  7. I totally agree with Megan! And Danya! And Complicated Life! lol

    SO pretty much, I have nothing to add to the conversation, I just wanted to agree with everyone. :)

  8. Hey there cranky! :)

    "If you are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, I will call you a libertarian. Are you for small government, fewer taxes and regulations? For abortion rights and gay marriage? This is you, baby."


    Libertarians are a broad group. They're typically divided about half and half on life issues. I voted for two pro-life, pro-marriage libertarians this year. Yes, we're pretty "hands off" on other social issues- such as the failing war on drugs- but that does not imply an automatic stance on abortion and marriage. In fact, John Stossel has a show on Fox Business Channel that teaches about Libertarian issues and he recently had an entire episode just on this life issue. Conclusion? There is none! Libertarians are split! Check out Judge Andrew Napolitano, Lew Rockwell, Thomas E. Woods...They're all (very) Catholic Libertarians!

    Just a note to clarify. :) You know I love you! Even and especially cranky you!!! :)

  9. Liberals love conferring and attaining victim status. It is a nauseating spectacle and it is destroying our country. The whole definition thing is 'head of a pin...." to me - irrelevant and nebulous - the stuff of cable television. But, what do I know - I try to focus on that wonderful day the Father calls me home.

  10. Thanks, guys. And, thanks, Lauren. I won't even be using the term, but I appreciate the clarification.

    Mai, if you're reading, I hope you know that at this point, this post is not aimed at you.

    I will be back when I can, but I am off to a funeral for the husband of a close friend. Dr. Steier was an agnostic Jewish neurologist, who happened to be a staunch Reagan Republican who kept FoxNews on his waiting room television. Imagine that... a human being with many facets. And in my circles. Who would have thunk it?

    May God rest his soul.

  11. Oh, yeah, "lib" is bad, but "reich-winger", "wingnut", "Jesusfreak", "Christianist", "teabagger" --- all acceptable, even in the mainstream press half the time.

    Libs don't like lib because it's a dirty word nowadays. It means something Americans by and large disagree with more and more as the days roll by.

  12. Haha... I think we can all relate to cranky Leila. :-D

  13. Cathy, you forgot "brown shirt" by Pelossi - an analogy I find nearly unforgivable. Keep the tantrums coming libs - YOUR true colors are showing!

  14. As said Mr. Chesterton (Suicide of Thought): "Then there is the opposite attack on thought: That urged by Mr. H.G. Wells when he insists that every separate thing is "unique," and there are no categories at all. This also is merely destructive. Thinking means connecting things, and stops if they cannot be connected. It need hardly be said that this skepticism forbidding thought necessarily forbids speech: a man cannot open his mouth without contradicting it. Thus when Mr. Wells says (as he did somewhere), "All chairs are quite different," he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them "all chairs". "

    Good luck Leila. When I read the comments sometimes, I feel like banging my head into a wall. lol.

  15. Monica, that is the greatest quote!!! I adore Chesterton.

  16. I glad you finally got pissed off about something, Leila. :)

  17. It's ok to be cranky sometimes. You did so very charitably. :)

  18. Ok, I'm going to try to jump into this conversation. I know Leila continued it over on the next post with Chesterton's quote, but the statement here on this one gets me worried: "Ideas are not complex."

    Perhaps, just perhaps, this is what I'm complaining about Leila transforming my worldview into the simple statement "rules change from day to day", and that whole argument.

    Since I don't want to talk about abortion, really, I'm going to introduce yet another social issue - illegal immigrants. I was also in Peace Corps in El Salvador, about five years ago (I took a sabbatical of sorts from the job I've been in for 11 years). While there, I met up with a non-Peace Corps Catholic interested in social justice - she was much more liberal than I am, I think she and I both would agree. She worked for an organization whose goal was to find out about people who were killed en route to the US and inform their families - a very humane thing to do. For her job, she was not judging whether or not immigration was right or wrong, but just doing what she could to remove suffering from the families of people who were "lost".

    Personally, she thought that the US policy against migration from Central/Latin America was absolutely wrong. If people wanted a better life in the US, why not just let them in? People are dying in El Salvador and en route, this is inhumane to stop them.

    I thought, and still do, that the real issue was the economic disparity between El Salvador and the US. I was actively working with youth to increase their technological skills in order to prepare them to do work in El Salvador. With a computer and the internet, you can work from anywhere. Plenty of companies were looking to open call centers and the like in El Salvador, and HP actually had - and you needed technology skills to get a job like that.

    So my point was not necessarily that entering the US was illegal -- sure, it is illegal, I won't belabor that point. But it's not the most important point - the more important point to me is that there is an underlying reason why all of these people want or need to go north. If we could spend our energy on making life better where they are, the mass migrations would slow.

    However, I fear that the conservative point of view would be to simplify the idea: it is illegal. They should not attempt to come here.

    That is boiling down a larger issue into an idea that is much too simple in my opinion, and not helpful to the situation.

    In my opinion, this is similar to what Paul said in the previous post, "How do you stop abortion? Simply outlawing it isn't going to work."

  19. Mai, again, maybe we are talking past each other. I would agree with pretty much everything you have to say above.

    But I think you are confusing (or merging) two issues or ideas.

    First, there is the issue of borders. Are they moral? Does a country have the right to have borders in the first place, and may they be secured? That is one issue.

    The other issue is, why are so many people wanting to migrate out of their own countries and come to the US? It's because of the dismal situation they find in their own countries. How to improve conditions for them in their own countries, etc., is a very noble cause.

    But they are two separate issues. Do they overlap? Yes. And that is where policy comes in. But before we get to the more complex issues of policy, we need to be very clear about the ideas we are talking about. Solutions (policy) aren't easy, but the ideas behind them are not complex.

    And quite frankly, a huge part of the complexity of life and problem solving is the reality of sin. Sin makes perfect solutions and utopia impossible. So, we think clearly about ideas and philosophies and truths, and then we try as best we can to work out policy or responses.

    What do you think?

  20. Mai, on the "rules day to day" thing, I will just have to cut and paste this:

    By the way, does anyone else misunderstand my point when I said the "day to day" thing to Mai? Maybe I am not being clear? Here's how I think it went down (relying on my bad memory, admittedly):

    Mai said that morality is not fixed or objective, but changes over time. I asked her what would happen if she raised her kids like that, with changing rules... would they feel happy and secure? Would they want to know that the rules could change from day to day?

    Now, obviously, I was making a point. If society cannot change its morality "day to day" (as a parent could change rules for a child), it surely can change very rapidly in the scheme of things (look at the generational change on the use and meaning of human sexuality, which was a pretty seismic shift!). That was my point. Did anyone else misunderstand that?

    Again, I am just trying to be as clear as possible on this blog, and if I am bungling that, please, please let me know.

    I just thought that was a good, quick analogy (in microcosm). I could be wrong.

    I know that you will not necessarily change your morality from day to day, Mai. But there is nothing in your philosophy which says you can't. Because your truth changes according to your thought process. And your thought process can change. Right? That was my point.

    Now, if you subscribe to Natural Law (which some atheists do), then you are right that your morality will not change from day to day. Because Natural Law is grounded in objective truth. Maybe you should look into Natural Law arguments. You might already be there, but just not realize that it has a name.


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