In my most recent post, I admitted to being old, conservative, and educated. Labels! Why do I associate myself with such terms, and what do they mean? What age is old? What does it mean to be a conservative? How can I claim to be educated?
Each of these categories defies definition. Young versus old represents an artificial dichotomy. We could argue all day and all night about the meaning of these terms and who should be pigeon-holed into one or the other of these categories. Accept by mutual agreement, we would never know for sure who is old and who is young because these labels represent rather arbitrary categories along a continuum. In truth, we are conceived, born into this world, live our lives, and then pass on to our great reward. There is no precise milestone that qualifies us to claim old age. It is just a label for the sake of stereotyping. The same could be said for conservative versus moderate versus liberal, or educated versus not educated. We know one when we see one, but we cannot agree on what it is that we know or see. Fascinating!
Consider almost any label ascribed to humans and you will most likely find an arbitrary set of categories. Race, level of affluence, physical attributes, ethnicity, and even gender all require placing humans into groups that actually make little sense, but we do it anyway, all the time, even officially.
Asking people to classify themselves into races or ethnicities is a wonderful example of the futility and the absurdity of this endeavor. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious. Over the past fifty years, the definitions have changed numerous times as have the words that go along with the definitions. To further complicate the matter, nationality gets added to the equation as does religion and you have a bunch of nonsense that serves the convenience of stereotyping, often for nefarious purposes. Every person on the planet descends from 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents or 256 great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents. Which ones determine your race, ethnicity, or nationality? Good luck figuring that out!
Of the three ideological labels in common use today, conservative, moderate, or liberal, the largest number of Americans (U.S.A.) consider themselves conservative (38%) compared to moderate (34%) or liberal (23%) according to a Gallup poll reported this past January. Gallup has been collecting this self-identified information about people for more than 20 years and the results have been interesting. The general trend is toward more liberals (17% to 23%), fewer moderates (36% to 34%), and fewer conservatives (43% to 38%). Why we choose to label ourselves this way is a fascinating question. I wonder how many people even know what the labels mean. For the details of the poll, check out the Gallup Website at www.gallup.com.
I choose to label myself as a conservative, and I have my reasons based upon certain principles that I hold to be critically important. I actually don’t like the term conservative because it has its own dictionary definition that seems semantically distinct from my meaning. I intend to explain this in a future post. I will not attempt to define moderate and liberal, except that they are not conservative.
Thanks for enduring my musings.