I just finished reading a post on a blog I hadn't seen before, and which I rather like. It's titled 'Cranmer' and tends to lean towards the 'conservative' side of things. Among other items, it has a scroll of British Conservative 'greatests', with a defining criterion of combining a 'disposition to preserve' with an 'ability to improve'.
Now, for myself, whether or not I, or anyone you'd care to name, has an ability to improve is always open to question and debate, even if the debate goes no further than between one's ears. And so it should be. Each of us needs to check ourselves to see if we are improving ourselves and/or the world around us. But the first one, the disposition to preserve, that I have in some abundance!
What do I wish to preserve? Let's start with some things we all require and for which there are no substitutes, shall we? Uncontaminated land to till, graze animals and to build on. Clean air to breathe. Clean water to drink and to wash with. Wild, untouched places to get away to at times and restore our flagging hearts, minds and spirits. Food fit for human & pet consumption. Energy that isn't overly costly in one way or another. A level playing-field for all of us, especially where elections are concerned. Transparent elections where as many people as possible have their say. Elected representatives accountable to the people as a whole and not to those who currently buy legislators as slaves were once bought. The separation of religion and state. A healthy (in every way) and expanding middle class, the common cornerstone of democracy in every country legitimately calling itself one. Services available to and supported by ALL of us, from the Post Office to Medicaid to the FDA, EPA and FHA, to name but a few. And I suppose I can legitimately say, this makes me a conservative!
But that's not the whole story either: in accepting 'Cranmer's' definition of conservative for myself, I think of what 'liberal' means as well. For one thing, it connotes generosity. I hope I am as generous as my circumstances permit--not only monetarily, but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually as well. That sort of generosity usually requires 1)some degree of open-heartedness and 2) A willingness to at least hear new ideas, and then to consider them carefully. It certainly does not mean blind acceptance of new ideas, nor should it! All it means is a readiness to at least hear and mull over new ideas before deciding either they have a point or two or are simply dressed-up rubbish. Maybe in order to preserve what's best, and most essential, in our country we need to be conservative in our treatment of the essentials--and liberal as we consider how best to preserve these things for those that come after us.