Getting Older

There’s an old adage in American politics that we tend to be progressive when we’re young and conservative when we get older. Of course American politics is as much about economics as government, particularly given the confusion by which most Americans think that Capitalism is a governing system rather than an economic model. So looked at through those glasses, the adage can roughly be equated to the notion that most people don’t feel much need to protect their stuff until they actually have some stuff.

Viewed that way, it does kind of manage to explain Young Republicans in a more progressive light. They may not have much now but they’re sure they will when they get older, so best to start protecting it now. Of course most of them are delusional about how much stuff they’ll actually have that’s worth protecting.

Now it struck me the other day that God, as portrayed in the Bible, doesn’t follow this rule. God in the Old Testament is a mean old bastard doing the equivalent of yelling at us to get off his lawn, but in the New Testament, in the form of Jesus, he’s all about “love your neighbor” and “loaves and fishes for everybody!”

So I asked him about this. He told me that maybe I wasn’t extending my model far enough. He told me to go back not just to when we get our political awareness but all the way back to when we get awareness at all. Kids, when they start out, tend to have an “everything I see is mine” attitude. Their natural tendency is to keep all their toys to themselves and we slowly teach them to share, to be kind to others, and to have a little empathy, maybe even a lot of empathy. It is these traits that lead them to their initial liberal political attitudes.

So we start out kind of mean and self-centered, then we learn to love and share with everyone, then we start to hoard and expect everyone to be “looking out for number one” justifying doing the same ourselves. In this light, maybe God is just in that middle phase, maybe in God terms he’s really much younger than we think.

Now that’s a scary thought.

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