us v them

by Andrea Elizabeth

There seems to be two very different points of views among modern liberals and conservatives, not necessarily Trump’s pov.

MLK Jr. day was also Robert E. Lee’s birthday, and a very few friends were posting quotes from Robert E. Lee like these. I would characterize these quotes pretty much like Boy Scout rules. Quotes like, “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.” and “Teach him he must deny himself.” 

They very much believe in strict and energetic adherence to rules as the only way to achieve law, order, health, and wealth.

One problem is when these longstanding white rules come across other social structures, such as African and Native American.

There is a quote that most people probably cringe at from Lee, “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.”

This was from an age where corporal punishment was not questioned. Indeed, I don’t think it was questioned that much in general until the ’70’s. Dr. Spock comes to mind.

“Spock advocated ideas about parenting that were, at the time, considered out of the mainstream. Over time, his books helped to bring about major change. Previously, experts[citation needed] had told parents that babies needed to learn to sleep on a regular schedule, and that picking them up and holding them whenever they cried would only teach them to cry more and not to sleep through the night (a notion that borrows from behaviorism). They were told[citation needed] to feed their children on a regular schedule, and that they should not pick them up, kiss them, or hug them, because that would not prepare them to be strong and independent individuals in a harsh world. In contrast Spock encouraged parents to see their children as individuals, and not to apply a one-size-fits all philosophy to them.”

It could be that Dr. Spock created Millennials.

There is currently a war between these two points of view, laws enabling or punishing people who have perhaps taken advantage of these extremes notwithstanding. Balancing between the two takes extreme wisdom. One could argue that they provide balance for each other, but to me it is mainly providing conflict with only the prevailing side feeling like a winner and the other a defensive loser. It’s important to respect the pros and cons of both sides. If Trump isn’t an idealogue but a pragmatist, maybe he can achieve some balance.

Perhaps these two have clashed the most in the United States with our horrible history of slavery and pushing out of Native Americans. But Canada and Russian Alaska seem to have been able to forge a more amicable, kind path. But not to vilify America too much, perhaps our austere days and rules were vital to the Allied victory in WWII. I’ll also point out that black and Indian regiments also served very important roles fighting on the same side, albeit sadly segregated. Baby steps?

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