Here's an example: I feel very strongly that we all should be solving international hunger crises immediately, but I feel equally strongly that increased taxation is the exact opposite way to do it. Better, I think, for people to feel the moral compulsion to help their fellow humans but have the fiscal freedom to do so on their own volition. Forced charity is not charity at all.
But it has dawned on me that (unfortunately for some) I am not liberal at all. The idea of social change is not alien to conservatives, and the idea of national (and international) prosperity is as much a part of the conservative agenda as it is the liberal. What I had been doing was trying to characterize my own beliefs and policies based on the liberal definition of conservatives: "conservatives are greedy, selfish bastards." I was forced to pin myself as a greedy jerk when it came to economic freedoms and lower taxes, but I couldn't think of myself as heartless when it came to the poor and under-represented.
But really, conservatives (and by conservatives I mean mostly the ones you don't hear loudmouthing on the EIB radio network or FoxNews television channel) are deeply committed to improving the human condition, they just prefer a hands-off attitude from government while they do it.
Anyway, I got a lot of flak from my posts about vaccinations and circumcision. Weirdly, the flak has been from both sides of the aisle. Some of my conservative relatives send me regular links from anti-vax websites and news stories. Many of these stories come from sites that don't hide their conservative agendas. Similarly, some of my liberal relatives and friends have "opted out" of vaccines for their kids, based on their own judgement.
As for circumcision, I got a weirdly opposite response. I got tons of anti-circ linklists from liberals with lots of liberal sites and the conservatives I know that have chosen to skip circ for their boys simply claimed they were opting out for personal reasons.
So I have to wonder why my proposal for mandatory vaccinations for kids and possibly the same for circumcision (sans religious belief, remember I'm a conservative) have fallen on such deaf ears. No one wants to hear it. Is this because it is nonsense? Or are the people against vaccines and circ being nonsensical themselves?
Out of pure egotism I have to suggest the latter is the truth. Vaccines, though possibly containing tiny inherent risks, also can lay claim to saving countless lives. Since the advent of modern vaccinations, the human population has exploded, and the average life expectancy in developed countries (where vaccinations are available and use is widespread) has gone through the roof. There are few other explanations for this, as health conditions otherwise have not improved. Countries that have decreased vaccination use have seen a marked rise in disease outbreaks. Humans in developed countries are not living healthier lives than they were a hundred years ago, nay, now we live on fast food, alcohol, and cigarettes. The obesity rate has risen as fast if not faster than the life expectancy rate. Cultural traits, wars, and technology have enabled us to be fatter and less healthy and die more easily than ever before. But we live on, thanks mostly in part to modern medicine and the vaccines we get as kids. But a couple kids somewhere may have gotten autism so now we're all conveniently ignoring the millions of children who survived becuase they never got polio or smallpox or the flu.
And in case I didn't make it clear above, spare me your linkspam for or against vaccines and circumcision. I know what both sides of the argument are.
The point is that vaccinations and other optional health procedures that you can have performed on your children should not be scary. Nobody is "out to get you" and no sane person really, truly wants your child to have nerve damage in their penis.
No one bats an eyelash when the doctor wants to put tubes in a kid who gets lots of ear infections, or to have the tonsils taken out of a kid who has tonsilitis. Nobody seems upset that babies get a shot of vitamin K when they are born, or that silver nitrate is often put into their eyes to protect them from gonorrhea.
The acceptability of some forms of voluntary treatment with castigation of others is entirely societal driven. These treatments have been around for decades or longer, only recently have fears arisen against them.
But the problem I have with people that opt out is that they are not doing so for the sake of the human species. Many acknowledge that vaccines have made the world a better place. Many admit that circumcision prevents or helps prevent or probably helps prevent many terrible diseases. But they exclude themselves from the group of people who actually practice those acts. They seem to think that what is good for everyone else is good for everyone else...but they have their own way. They choose to make a free choice, as is their right, and go against the grain, to go against the time-tested regimens of science and medicine.
That is their choice, or so they think. But isn't, through herd immunity, as I have written before, the whole of the world stronger for each vaccinated child in it? Doesn't my daughters vaccination prevent her not only from getting the flu, but from passing it to another weaker child?
Don't we have a societal obligation to have our kids vaccinated in every way possible, for the sake of society? People will tell you yes until your ears fall off. Or until they have kids of their own and they decide not to have their kid vaccinated, because it might cause autism.
But if I said "the United States is stronger because we all pay taxes, but I choose not to. I find that occasionally taxes don't benefit the taxpayer, and so I choose not to pay them." I would be quickly fined or imprisoned by the IRS (or not). Because taxpaying is a law, you might say, while vaccinating your child is not.
I disagree. While paying your taxes is in fact required by the IRS, the act of giving up your own earnings or time or labor for the betterment of society is not law, it is Hobbesian' natural law. It is the moralistic fiber that Darwin argued in Chapter 5 of "The Descent of Man" that makes one tribe conquer another. He wrote:
"... When two tribes of primeval man, living in the same country, came into competition, if (other circumstances being equal) the one tribe included a great number of courageous, sympathetic and faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger, to aid and defend each other, this tribe would succeed better and conquer the other."
It is, Darwin and Hobbes both argued, our natural purpose and law to perform acts that benefit our species as a superceding obligation to our own personal inhibitions against those acts. To behave as an individual in ways that best allow our species to succeed and to thrive and to evolve.
So we come to this conclusion that we are bound by natural law to fight for the survival of our species, and to do so we must get our kids vaccinated. I'm not going to pretend like I believe even a tiny fraction of children get autism directly from vaccinations. But even if they do, though my heart goes out to their parents, the rest of us must continue to vaccinate our kids. Even though a few doctors argue that circumcision is unnecessary, the overwhelming majority of scientists and doctors for the last thousand odd years argue that it is not only a good idea in terms of societal pressures to fit in, but a good idea for the health of the human species.
I look to my own hypocrisies every day. Do you look for your own?