We live in an age dominated by emoticons, catch phrases, euphemisms, acronyms and outright lies. Sorting through this forest of verbiage to find a single tree of meaning sounds frivolous, but I believe it is an essential task that we all can benefit from. By condensing vast landscapes into single words, or misnomers, we negate reality at every turn. An example of conservation is what I did when I went off to college. My mother gave me a care package in which there were several dozen bars of Ivory soap. She got a great deal on them and wanted me to know that I was loved and cared for each time I used them. I noticed that the bars were very soft and would dissolve quickly when they got wet. I theorized that if they were more dry, they might last longer. I stacked them carefully in the open air for several months. This made the bars last for months rather than weeks, and years later I still had some of that soap left.
Thinking about resources as gifts can transform the way we look at the world. Making the best possible use out of everything makes sense when we understand that each and every thing that we can see, touch, smell, taste or hear is part of and related to every other thing in the Universe. Wasting or diminishing any single thing degrades the matrix of life that supports us and provides for us. Conservation assures that there will be something left when we depart this world, and that future generations will have a chance to experience the same richness and diversity, the same quality of life that we enjoy today. In fact, we have so disturbed the planet, that the very real possibility exists that we could provide a better life for our children and their children than what we are experiencing today. If we were to practice conservation.
Conservatives, on the other hand, at least as they seem to be today, seem bent on using everything as quickly as possible. Some of them, on the technocratic end of the spectrum believe that one day, grain alcohol will cost less than twenty dollars per quart, and that it will be a good idea to run cars on it. Or that, in the future, when the oil runs out, we will have the wherewithal to substantially improve our transport systems quickly enough, even under the crisis conditions of revolutionary change, that we shouldn’t worry about that now. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the technophobes, who distrust banks, computers, the government and their neighbors because they believe that when the shit hits the fan, everyone will be attacking them to secure scant resources. The vast middle seems to be tax-hating, gun-totin’, religious fundamentalists who don’t see the relationship between our current economic woes and the lock that Republicans have had on national politics over the past generation or so. Defenders of these political whims tend to lack historical perspective and/or awareness of economics and sustainability. Granted there are nearly infinite shades within this group and there are virtually no words to express what a typical “conservative” thinks or feels. However, in conversations with self-proclaimed conservatives, they have defended racism and racial profiling, planned obsolescence, screwing the other guy before he has a chance to screw you and business as usual when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthiest among us, corporate welfare, union busting, lack of an energy policy and military expenditures.
Allowing these values to claim the word “conservative” riles me up to the point of wanting to spit.
Conservative, to me means not using it up, saving a bit for others and actually giving back to the cornucopia of life, more than one takes. The soulless need not commandeer our political lives, guide the discourse about what they feel are the most pressing issues, they need not remove our rights, misguide our children or tell us what we can or cannot eat. The time has come to relieve them of the burden of having to do our thinking for us. With freedom comes responsibility. Who can blame our leaders for thinking that we would rather be lead, without freedom as long as we didn’t need to be responsible for anything.