Nevertheless, I argued with my accuser, saying that, for instance conservation is very important to me. He joked that that just proved that I was a conservative because look... I was in favor of conserving something...
It strikes me as kind of funny that, in fact, environmental conservation is considered a priority for “liberals” more than for “conservatives”. It seems to me that on this score, the major difference between the two archetypal positions is that liberals want to conserve things for the long term. A liberal sees that current practices can’t continue because if they do, we’re going to run out of stuff we’re exploiting. So liberals state that we ought to make changes in order to come as close as we can to continuing what we want to do. A conservative will say that the future is uncertain, and the farther to the future you look, the less certain are your predictions, so... don’t worry about anything more than a year or so down the line. The future will somehow take care of itself, probably through means we can’t yet see. Choosing today’s actions based on predictions of what the earth will be like in twenty years will definitely cause hardship -- potentially unnnecessary hardship -- to some people today. Why choose certain hardship today to prevent possible hardship decades away?
Dr. Seuss saw the error in the conservative viewpoint and published The Lorax in 1971. You can find the text of the story here, but I would encourage everyone to find a copy of the book.
For a more ancient source of inspiration, Aesop’s fable, “The Grasshopper and the Ants” also seems germane. There are different ways the story could be interpreted -- ironically I just found a site where the story is re-told with Democrats playing the part of the bad guys. But one way to interpret it is that you can either prepare for a future that isn’t currently obvious but can still be predictable (what the ants do), or you can fritter away your life in times of plenty, hoping that if things get worse, you’ll find a way to muddle through (as the grasshopper did... at least in versions of the story where the ants gave him food instead of leaving him to die).
I would like to think that we are learning from history. That there are so many grasshoppers and Once-lers around us suggests to me that we’re not learning as quickly as we need to be. But I can hope...
--Mickey P. Rowe (firstname.lastname@example.org)