Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I am a conservative Jew, politically, not religiously, and I see that as being perfectly in-line with justice-pursuing, peace-wanting, humanity-loving values, which I hold.

With me at least, but it seems with many Jews in the past couple of years that political conservativism has become more and more of a sensible political ideology, at least with regards to particular arenas. For me, it could have been the maturity that (supposedly) comes with age, but it could also have been the only proper response to a growingly Israel-hostile university climate, which I saw falling all around me like stink bombs. Yes, that was it, the hypocrisy I saw gleaming like bad rays from the intellegentsia liberalidad universitad which, once I Sherlocked my way into what was going on and had given them ample benefit of the doubt, the nonsense sent me flying from them with tracks of fire. It was unfortunate really, I used to be tight with the views of liberalism and to a large degree I think that I still am, it’s just that I saw that field of people begin to take up arms for causes that were associated with hate. In short, the way I saw it, hate was a dragon that the knights of the liberal round table and its disciples vowed to sleigh, but the more I saw them carrying anti-Israel signs, chanting venom, and planting seeds of hate, I realized that they had efficiently set the borders of that room in a way that just left me out of it. There was no more room for me to be a liberal and to join in that scheme as a Jew; my love for and alliance with Israel was an unacceptable firearm in the military of the liberal, and so I switched units.

Of course, just because the liberals whom I saw on campus, a territory like the West Bank where extremists make the most noise, were fools, it doesn’t mean that liberalism as an holistic ideology is wrong or even inherently flawed, it’s just that those people decided to stash Israel away in the “evil” file. This was liberal dogma, a mirage in the dunes where American was an evil empire and Israel was the bloody jewel in the crown. My views were my views and I would not shift them because some fools had mental issues. If I had liberal views they would remain, but if Israel could be filed and categorized away as an evil entity in the way that it was, knowing what I do about Israel, I cognized that there must be a problem with the functioning method of liberal thought. This caused in me a significant right shift and eventually lead me to rethinking the entire structure of the political spectrum.

One commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself." If we try to understand the significance of this commandment, we get an instruction that tells us to include others in our purview of ourselves. Since we have the tendency to go out of our way (or is it in our way?) to make our lives easier and to care for ourselves, at least theoretically, the Torah is telling us, not asking us, to put others in the same place as we put ourselves. We are not to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, we are to put others in OUR shoes. Contemporary liberal politics has adopted this value as their own.

Another commandment is not to have sex before marriage. Nowadays, this life value is taken to be a more conservative value, indicative of traditional and puritanical views. However, it is from the same set of commandments and the same G-d Whom gives both commandments; it is out of the same Mouth from which we hear both. How do we reconcile the two? Apparently G-d wants us to do both of them, that's how we reconcile them. G-d has created a system in which both social and sexual values are primary, unlike the world view most people have today where either social justice or sexual morality are key, but not both simultaneously. Social justice is about fixing the world around you, sexual morality is about fixing your personal world. The two bleed into each other because how can you begin to nurture the world around you without nurturing your personal world? When you are able to do both you can begin to see how your personal world and the world around are one world, and this explains the unity that is expressed throughout the entire Torah, not to mention the very nature of G-d's existence, which is characterized by complete unity.

Life is too complex to isolate yourself into any one man-made ideological category such as taking a solely liberal or conservative stance on issues. The heart of any matter has to be understood and cognized and only then can a person try to reason how he/she should respond to the issue. If we do this, the result is that we usually get some amalgamation ideology that contains parts of each line of thought. If we take this further, it seems that each line of thought is actually part of a larger "ideology," a comprehensive stance of life, which tends to bend and finally transcend existing political lines of thought. But the key is not to destroy existing political ideologies, it is to understand how the values contained within each camp are actually part of a more coherent world view than each holds on its own. If we try to reach it from a human perspective it begins to look like a fanciful and idealistic illusion of an idea. But if we look at it from the perspective that there is a Being, G-d, Whom has a better understanding of things than we do and rationalize that He is the Source of these commandments, then our limited human understanding becomes less and less of an obstacle because we understand that His wisdom calls for this unity. It then becomes something that we can grasp and understand, not at all far-fetched or enigmatic.

Let us imagine a person who is as devoted to sexual morality as he is to bringing down oppressive regimes, or let us imagine a person who is as devoted to loving his neighbor as himself as he is to running a corporation; neither of these are inherent opposites. Often times people tie a set of values together just because they occur in the same person, but this is a fallacy. Each value has to be understood as an item on its own, for what it is, and then that value can be understood as one value in a larger set. Once this is done, values complement each other and then begin to form a bigger picture. For a Jew, that picture is the Torah and the 613 commandments in it. This is the "ideology of G-d," and can probably only be struck in a theocracy, which is a loaded word for a spiritual, legal, and institutionalized return to that holistic understanding of reality. i.e., Messianic Redemption.

The value of the human is compromised until it has a soul or until one believes that it has a soul – whichever comes first.

It is the soul that allows for the fusion of “liberal” and “conservative” politics, for if the human has a soul, then all human beings are equal; a liberal maxim, but if the human has a soul, then it has to adhere to a number of behaviors that indicate and maintain its endless value, of which sexual morality is just one. If souls exist as the core of the being called the “human being,” then indeed a set of both “liberal” and “conservative” values exist as part of a seamless expression of truth.

But if souls exist then G-d exists, because a soul cannot be the function of anything else other than G-d. It makes sense that G-d created all of this in a chronological manner, perhaps human souls, earth, human body, and then joined the soul with the body, but that Abraham discovered the existence of all this in the opposite order; that he was both soul and body, had a body that was separate from the soul, that the body was part of the earth, and since the soul is self that it had to be made first with the intent of putting it in a vessel. Since the soul exists, it must be that G-d exists.


anonym00kie said...

it really is a dilemma when you feel more connected to liberal views but see how they perceive israel. makes you question the rest of their agenda..but im just not that excited about the alternative..
my solution's been to 'mix and match different opinions on different issues. im not running for office, i dont have to stick to one party line. on some issues i agree with this one and on other issues i agree with the other one - as long as i feel that my views are in sync with my torah views..that to me is the real litmus test

jjew said...

Yah, you're right, but that's basically just chapter one of the story. As I was getting fed up with liberalism and trying to figure out what made it tick, some of my views shifted to the right. I remember it pretty clearly, Israel, either in my mind or truly in the university setting, dominated everything. I basically structured my whole political view on the Israeli situation, so I was right wing. I also paid much more attention to Israel in that time then anything else because I had to be honest to what I believed. But, time passed and things changed. The Iraq war started and Israel, for the first time in a loooong time, fell a bit into the background as the world evil and America became more of the focus. It was a welcome relief at first because I felt like I had some breathing room. Soon enough though, after the proverbial dust had cleared from the Twin Tower destruction, many people started their rants about the wrongs of the war. And when it was shown that war might have been justified, they went at it in the WAY it was carried out. With that at least I found myself agreeing, but only privately; I felt that liberals had become so intellectually dulled that even if they made a TRUE case that their reason for that reasoning was off and therefore their logic couldn't be trusted or followed. I couldn't give them one inch and it seems, for the most part, that the anti-Israel camp evolved into the anti-Iraq war camp being comprised of many of the same people. It did however, win a few "converts," partially because Bush made and is making many mistakes, and because they were eager to jump on the bandwagon. Also, there is a general distrust of our president, something that only began to bother me about two years ago, but now I think is a real problem and don't understand how he, for whom I voted, could be so irrational. But, alas, it could also be that I haven't watched the news much lately and I didn't even know of the attack today in Israel. Nevertheless, I don't think that Bush is doing much to convince the population of the propriety of his actions, he's kinda leaving it for us to piece together, and that's not entirely good. I want to support my president, but he's making it very hard and I can't act as his defender all the time.

At the same time as I was becoming more right wing, I was also becoming more observant, and one thing that I saw occuring was that the more liberal Jews that I knew tended to fall on the secular side (even if so did several conservatives). The association between secular and liberal wasn't a perfect correlation, but there is some truth in saying that the two mish-moshed together to form a secular liberal ideology. Only later, and I'm talking about the last half of a year or so, maybe less, have I become more opened to a more politically liberal viewpoint, as long as it was from a position of Torah, which if I had to give it a label I would say Orthodox. I mean, I can insist on the validity of Orthodoxy as the right way for Judaism (although I don't discriminate), but it stops there, I can't insist on the validity of conservativism when it comes to ideas and peace; that's where the fence goes up.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this long response, I've never actually written out the last four year's summary before, so thanks then. Yaniv...

jjew said...

Ehh, I don't know how to add to a comment. Anyway, I wanted to say that I agree with something you said. My political stance on things is basically a mix of both liberal and conservative, and I wrote a blog on it some while back called "Liberal Conservative G-d." The Torah is full of examples of each; "loving your neighbor as yourself" is "liberal" and "no sex before marriage" is conservative, but the Torah commands them both. It seems that G-d's notion of proper politics and social norms is split into two ideologies and that's how we get conservativism and liberalism.