Heartless Folly

by Zachary A. Horn

 “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

-Winston Churchill

I often wonder whether the partisan warfare in America is mere post-modern tribalism, or the result of a deeper metaphysical divide. For the most part, Conservatives respect tradition and are guided primarily by reason, while Liberals hold more respect for ideas and are primarily guided by passion. I will be the first to admit this line is often blurred, but at its core this seems to be the primary difference between the factions, and the divide is as old as civilization itself. 

Since childhood I have tended more towards reason than passion. My earliest proclivities were towards dispassionate analysis of problems and events, with an equal tendency towards ruthlessly oppressing emotional considerations. I don’t know whether these early tendencies were the result of genetics, environment, or karma; but with age I have come to realize wisdom without passion is as cruel and destructive as passion run amok. 

The divide between passion and wisdom seems to have reached a polarized crescendo in American politics, with both sides becoming foolish and callous in turn. We must recognize that true wisdom requires compassion, because only when we see the inherent connectivity of all things do we see a clear picture of reality. Wisdom without compassion is reason based on a faulty premise. It assumes we are disparate atomized beings with clear winners and losers, and the losers be damned. Similarly, compassion without wisdom forgets that we are at once connected and separate beings. If there is any point to our individuated experience of the universe it is to learn and grow, and our instructor is often pain and suffering. Passion uninformed by wisdom tends towards trying to eliminate pain and suffering, often at the cost of individual liberty and the freedom to make bad decisions and bear the consequences.

The partisans in America must recall that we need both wisdom and compassion, and that when one prevails over the other only dysfunction can ensue. As individuals and a civilization we must strive towards being wise and loving, balancing the passion and wisdom in ourselves; learning, growing, and evolving towards more perfect and integrated beings.

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