Values, Isms and our Human Spirit

When I hear the word “communism”, I think “community”. I like living in a community, among other people. I do not need to become a communist to like community.

When I hear the word “socialism”, I think “society”. I live in one. How about you? America has built a pretty wonderful, imperfect, evolving society. Canada too, plus I’m sure there many others that I have not visited yet. I do not need to become a socialist to like society.

When I hear The word “conservatism”, I remember the wisdom of my grandfather, who encouraged me to act with thoughtful intention, to save and spend wisely – in short, to conserve. I remember my high-school track coach, who reminded me to pace myself as I rounded the oval for the second or third time. I think of all the wonderful places that caring people have preserved for future generations – a pristine mountain lake, unspoiled forest or ancient native dwelling.

When I hear the word “progressivism”, I think “progress”. I like making progress, especially in those goals I’ve set for myself. Regressing – going backwards – is not an option for me, but sometimes standing still is fine while I catch my breath.

Regarding politics, our current American debate boils down to whether we live in a Republic or a Democracy. Exploring the roots of these ‘isms’, the answer clearly is both.

The Latin root for “republic” is “res publica” – a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter” and not the private concern or property of the ruling entities. Similarly, the Greek / Latin root for “democracy” is “demos kratos”, literally government “powered by the people”. In this light, our national differences are really in the ‘isms’ that our major parties have created, and not the underlying values of either system.

I’ve committed to always seek the truth behind the ‘isms’, or as we used to say, to respectfully question authority. The ultimate truths are innate, and constraining them under the weight of one group’s ‘ism’ is akin to giving one’s soul away. Thankfully, we cannot actually do this, although too often we try.

That’s the beauty of the human spirit; it is always right there waiting for us whenever we come up for air.


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