So No Principles at 60?

When speaking on politics and sharing that my conclusions come from a matter of principle, I’ve heard Churchill’s old saw invoked to imply that they are those of some dreamy eyed waif with visions of some utopian paradise. In truth, I’ve tried to take that, frankly lazy, thinking graciously and ask myself, “So at what age is it proper to sacrifice my principles and values?” Because that is exactly what I would be required to do.

If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.
–Winston Churchill

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
–Albert Einstein

When speaking on politics and sharing that my conclusions come from a matter of principle, I’ve heard Churchill’s old saw invoked to imply that they are those of some dreamy eyed waif with visions of some utopian paradise. In truth, I’ve tried to take that, frankly lazy, thinking graciously and ask myself, “So at what age is it proper to sacrifice my principles and values?” Because that is exactly what I would be required to do.
I’m only a few years away from 40 and admittedly, as I have gotten older, I have tempered where and when I pick my battles. But what I have found is that my principles burn that more brightly in my world perspective. A good friend, for whom I have tremendous respect and love, once asked me if with the birth of my son had my perspective on social issues, esp. on homosexuality, took on a more conservative bent. I told him no, if anything, I have less patience with conservatives whose political, theological, and social thinking and activities are at odds with my principles and values. Ironically, he was right that I was taking on a more conservative perspective in the way I view conservative ideas.
As many of my friends on Facebook know, I’ve been very vocal on the issue of healthcare. I take a very dim view of our system because it runs counter to deeply held values that are best expressed by my faith in Jesus Christ, something which I take very, very seriously. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 verses 31 to 46, the author has Jesus talking about his return and the judgment of the nations at the Apocalypse. It’s in this section, that we see the phrase “the least of these.” A phrase often taken out of context to connote the sappy compassion of the liberal bleeding heart. Not so in Matthew, it is the love of the righteous as opposed to the wicked. Jesus makes his often heard list:

  • For I was hungry and you gave me food.
  • Thirsty and you gave me…drink.
  • I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
  • I was naked and you clothed me.
  • I was sick and you took care of me.
  • I was in prison and you visited me.

Note that he was talking about doing these things to the “least of these,” meaning the poor, the downtrodden, the vulnerable. The righteous who do these things get eternal life while the wicked receive perdition for refusing to do the same. Whether you read this story as allegorical or literal, it’s very clear how our healthcare system that rations care precisely on one’s ability to pay would fair on the least-of-these scale. Our system is wrong. It should be changed. That’s the liberal 20 year old speaking. As I get older, my epectations on how much things can and will change has been tempered, but never would I suggest that we slow change or conserve the status quo. Even if the goal is unattainable, which in this case it most certainly is not, it’s incumbent on me as a moral and sane person to be an agent of change. That’s the nearing 40 year old speaking.
So, my question to those who would ask me to have a brain once I reach forty and become a conservative. Do I have to trade in my principles, my values, my eternal soul in order to do so? Harshly said I know, but I want to rebut forcefully that sense of false pragmatism that is really disguised cynicism.

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