Hay una nota en español por abajo.
To my conservative Friends and Family,
So I grew up in a conservative household, both politically and theologically, in a conservative part of Canada. It was good – I have no significant complaints. And while I would say that I’m probably not as conservative as I once was, I definitely still lean that direction. In fact, when I’m back in Canada (and not living in Mexico), I still live in very conservative country and feel fairly at home there. I bring this up because when it comes to addressing all of you, I feel like I do so from the position of an insider – one who is conservative by heritage and still by association.
With that in mind, to all my conservative friends and family, I have to say that I have some pretty big concerns about what I regularly see and experience as I interact with many in this ideological camp. My concerns fall into two main categories:
- The crippling mistrust of the liberal media, science and government; and,
- The deep fear that I see many conservatives living in
If I had to guess, I would suspect that most of my family and friends would not be thrilled about this characterization. They may agree that they mistrust the media (with good reason, they argue), but that word “crippling” feels pretty strong. And I suspect most would disagree with the characterization of themselves as fearful – even strongly proclaiming that they don’t fear anything man can throw at them, and that it is the left who lives in fear! But that’s not what I see and hear, so allow me to explain.
There is no doubt that there is ample reason to distrust the liberal media, science and governments. Those of us who grew up conservative have for years felt that popular media (movies, music, TV) was leading a stampede against “traditional” (Christian) values through the promotion of sexual liberty of all sorts, the pursuit of pleasure, the belittling of the family and the devaluing of traditional morals in general. The primary news networks all skew left (or did, for a long time), and the presentation of stories in the mainline media very much promotes certain agendas. Because most of our scientific information comes through the media, it is commonly spun to favour certain narratives. Of course scientific corporations, regardless of the media, make their own problems, as there are countless stories of corruption, unethical practices to make profit, skipping or skirting regulations, etc. There’s a reason many people don’t trust “Big Pharma”. And with the Liberal/NDP party (Canada) and the Democrats (USA) pushing many of the same “progressive” values and ideas as the mainstream media (the two seem to work in tandem), it is no wonder that conservatives mistrust the governments as well.
But there is a reason that I have used the particular phrase “crippling mistrust”. You see, although there are many reasons to be skeptical of the liberal media and government, as well as science, many seem to have thrown out the baby with the bathwater, as it were. The good and the relevant is thrown out along with the things that are incorrect or misleading. It is as if many conservatives have taken the Biblical doctrine of the sinfulness of man, looked at the liberal media/government/scientific community, and applied that label entirely to them, stating that “You are the sinful part of humanity, and everything you do and say is evil and corrupt”. What I hear from many conservatives is the idea that “all evil resides there (the liberals)”, and thus anything and everything stated by any liberal source is of no value. We have taken healthy mistrust and skepticism and turned it into a crippling mistrust.
The reality (and hear me out on this!) is that there is a lot in the liberal ideology that is good and important. There is an empathy there that often feels absent in conservative policy (although not necessarily in individuals). There is a deep concern for injustice and a desire to see change in society to address these issues. And make no mistake – there are no lack of issues. There are legitimate climate and environmental concerns. Racism does exist. There are deep economic problems within capitalism that need to be addressed. For all our concern about “big government”, there is a need for regulation and guidance – it’s true that governments are a bureaucratic mess and seek too much control, but leaving businesses and society to their own devices is just as prone to abuse and problems. In short, while skepticism is valuable and pushback on liberal ideas/government/media is important, we need liberals. They view the world differently and bring a perspective that we as conservatives need. We have forgotten the Biblical doctrine that these, too, are made in God’s image, and reflect Him in many ways – whether they acknowledge Him or not!
Hand in hand with this crippling mistrust of all things liberal is a dangerous faith in all things conservative. And yes, it is dangerous. Conservatives, the same as liberals, are both made in the image of God and corrupted by sin. Both conservative governments and conservative media (including the science promoted by conservative and independent sites) are guilty of just as much sin as liberal sources. There is the same ignoring of inconvenient facts, the same tendency to slant things ideologically, the same fear-mongering, the same dismissiveness and arrogance, the same proclivity to greed and corruption. Just because a government, scientist or media source lines up with our ideology doesn’t mean that we turn off our skepticism and blindly accept everything that they have to say, or excuse or ignore their failings. The world needs the conservative voice as much as it needs the liberal voice – but it needs an honest conservative voice, not a blindly ideological one. And to my friends and family, I would say that we have failed far too often to be discerning and skeptical of our own motives, ideas and representatives.
I spoke of a deep fear that I can see in the conservative camp and it is this – the fear that our society is “falling apart”, and that we are the only ones who can save it, as well as a fear of believing or trusting anything that the liberal camp says. For a people who often claim to trust in God, it’s amazing how often the conversation isn’t about God and trusting in him, but rather about our rights and freedoms, about the destruction of our society, about the need to “get back” to the golden days – except that it wasn’t anywhere near as “golden” as we make it out to be. Not for us, and certainly not for everyone.
It is natural to feel fear, especially when we feel like things are chaotic and not going the way we want them to or in the direction we think is best. But society won’t be “saved” by choosing one group of corrupt people over another group of corrupt people. Societies, countries, and empires all ebb and flow. Some last a long time, some a little. Most have their moments of glory and their strengths, but all end up corrupted and failing, whether sooner or later. Not only is it bound to happen, it will happen through conservatives as well as through liberals. So as Christians (as most of my friends and family are), we participate in our society and strive to be salt and light in whatever way we can, but we certainly don’t put our faith or all our energy into one political party, or one ideology. We live in what some refer to as the “radical middle” – acknowledging both good and bad from both sides, and trusting that whether society thrives or falls apart, whether we have complete rights and freedoms or none, that there is One overseeing all, who will be with us through all. Our antidote to fear is not the policies of conservative groups or rejection of liberal groups, but rather trust in and obedience to Jesus.
Covid, for example
The last two years of Covid have really served to highlight, I believe, the crippling mistrust and the fear of which I speak. Here’s what I have seen over the past two years:
The general Liberal response to Covid – “Covid is coming for us, it will do untold damage to our world, hospitals will be overrun, the government must intervene in every way possible, vaccines will save us or at least vastly protect us, we must completely eradicate Covid, we all need to pull together to protect ourselves and others, we need to trust the scientific consensus.”
The general conservative response to Covid – “It’s not really that bad, it’s just a bad flu, the death rates and infection rates are overstated, governments need to stay out of it and let people deal with it as they see fit, don’t infringe on our rights and freedoms, mandates are evil, vaccines are at best somewhat helpful but are untested and dangerous, people are living in fear of the virus but we don’t fear it, and we need to believe those who oppose the scientific consensus (the little guys bucking the consensus).”
Obviously there are a range of ideas within each group, but that’s what I have personally heard from many people as well as read constantly in the news (liberal and conservative).
Now here’s what I have personally observed:
- I have known a large number of people who have been sick, with quite a number sick for an extended period of time, including time in the hospital (or time when they maybe should have been in the hospital)
- most have recovered and most cases were mild
- I personally know two people who have died from Covid (i.e. they were not sick and in no danger of death until they developed Covid, then they passed away due to Covid)
- All accounts seem to indicate that in a variety of places, the medical system (even with restrictions, vaccines, etc.) was very overwhelmed, with all sorts of non-essential medical cancellations and worrisomely full ICUs. This includes at least one wave in my home provinces of Saskatchewan (where I was born and raised) and Alberta (where I have raised my family). Speaking to a few nurses in these situations gave me a perspective that it was not just “media overreaction”.
- I have only seen or heard personally of two significant reactions to the vaccine (in comparison to the two deaths, various hospitalizations and significant illnesses due to Covid). One was a lady in the pharmacy who showed up with blood clots shortly after she got the vaccine (I overheard the conversation with the pharmacist, who seemed unconcerned as she helped), and one who had physical reactions for about a week that were significant and unpleasant, but far from life-threatening. Obviously I believe there are more out there, but as my own experience shows, they pale in comparison to the number of people affected by Covid.
- Since the vaccine has been rolled out, I have only heard of severe cases of Covid among my contacts who have not had the vaccine. Others who have been vaccinated have had Covid (including in my own family), but I don’t know a single person with the vaccine who has had any severe sickness, while I know a variety who have refused to be vaccinated who have been severely sick. (Fortunately, none have died, but I have known at least one who was hospitalized and others who perhaps should have been.)
In short, my own observations and lived experience lines up much more closely with the liberal view and response than the conservative response. That’s not to say that liberal sources and reactions have been all correct. We could discuss for hours cases of overreaction, poor rollout of support services, ignoring data or putting conflicting/nonsensical restrictions in place, mask and vaccine mandates, etc. But despite various points of disagreement, my observation remains – the liberal perspective captures reality better than that conservative perspective, which heightens my belief that the conservative mistrust of all things liberal has led to reporting and decisions that seem to be based more on a reaction against liberals rather than an actual analysis of the situation. Mistrust has crippled our response. Rather than agreeing with some of the basic trends and concerns and working to correct over-the-top or inaccurate responses, conservatives seem to have been focused on rejecting everything liberals say or try to do, to our own detriment. Our faith has been misplaced.
This speaks to the issue of fear, as well. The fear of believing anything that liberals say has hampered our ability to assess things accurately. Instead of assessing each issue and conceding where “they” might be right (or disagreeing when wrong), we have reacted against everything, pushing a counter-narrative that opposes virtually everything, even when it flies in the face of observable evidence.
I also believe that this fear can be seen in our response to the vaccine. Why is it, when people are sick all around us and there is a very discernible and clear danger of sickness and even death (although significantly lower the younger and healthier one is), that many conservatives claim that they “are not afraid of the virus – it’s just a minor sickness” and downplay all the dangers, but when it comes to the vaccine, which has extremely low and rarely dangerous side-effects (yes, they exist, but are much more rare than the complications caused by Covid) and quite clearly observable benefits, conservatives suddenly become fearful of what it “might do” someday, and that it hasn’t been fully tested, and that there are reactions that the news isn’t reporting. Why do we as conservatives downplay the clearly documented reality and danger of the virus, but fear the vaccine so much? It seems like both these reactions have little to do with the actual facts and evidence, and a whole lot to do with the fact that it is the liberal media and government who are promoting these narratives. Fear has led us to reject the real danger (the virus) and to fear the much-lesser danger (the vaccine). Does this really make any sense? For me, it was a very simple analysis – the danger of getting significantly sick personally was way higher with Covid than it was with the vaccine. And the benefit to society was way better with the vaccine as well. For me, it was a very simple numbers game, and I am very confused why so many are so fearful of the vaccine. My only solution is what I mentioned – fear of trusting anything liberal.
My point here is not to push you to get the vaccine (obviously, I think the benefits far outweigh the potential negatives), nor is my point even anything to do with Covid specifically. That is nothing more than a handy example of my main points:
- a blanket mistrust of all things liberal actually cripples us, both personally and societally. While I may disagree with many liberal ideas, they are people created in God’s image who have significant ideas that we need to hear and consider.
- related to that, conservatives are just as corrupted by sin as liberals – it just shows up in different issues. We need to be just as skeptical of conservative bias, ideas and reporting as we do of liberal bias, ideas and reporting.
- while we might claim we don’t fear, there is a ton of fear in the conservative camp. Fear of all things liberal, fear of the collapse of our society, fear of change, fear of the vaccine…
The questions that I have for my conservative friends and family are quite simply this: Are you willing to acknowledge that you have been crippled by mistrust, and to step back from crippling skepticism to healthy skepticism (and even recognition of the good in liberal views)? And are you willing to confront the fear that exists so deeply within your (our) beliefs?
As a fellow conservative, let’s change our perspective.
With deep love, but also deep concern,
Por los que leen en español – este artículo tiene más que ver con la situación política en Canadá y los Estados Unidos. No sé si es una reflexión de la situación en países Iberoamericanos, por eso no lo va a traducir. Un resumen rápido: Crecí en una familia y región con una perspectiva muy conservador, y que los que pertenecen a este grupo (conservadores) han rechazado casi cualquier perspectiva “liberal”. El punto de este post es argumentar que no es saludable rechazar por completo los liberales (ya que ellos también son creados en la imagen de Dios) y confiar completamente en fuentes conservadores (ya que ellos también son pecadores que cometen muchos errores). Hablé de las diferentes perspectivas de Covid para mostrar que la perspectiva de los liberales alinea mejor con la realidad vivida que lo que están diciendo muchas fuentes conservadores, que a menudo argumentan que Covid no es un problema tan grave y que la vacuna, de hecho, es peor que Covid. El punto no es empujarlos a vacunarse (aunque creo que sería algo bueno), sino mostrar que el rechazo de cualquier perspectiva liberal no es saludable, y de hecho nos causa a rechazar ideas y perspectivas de valor junto con las cosas que es bueno rechazar. Por fin, argumenté que aunque muchos conservadores confiesan confiar en Dios, muchos de ellos viven en temor – temor de los liberales, temor de la vacuna, temor de la posibilidad de que la sociedad vaya a colapsar, etc. Los que supuestamente confían en el Señor no lo muestran por sus temores.