The World is a bit different today than it was when I first began to blog here in 2009, and my world is also different. When I started writing here I named the site Padre Steve’s World: Musings of a Passionate Moderate. After the 2012 elections I decided that the title needed a change to reflect my still moderate, but ever growing liberal and progressive philosophy. Over the past year as I have watched friends as well as the country as a whole drift towards more ideological polarity, I realized that even as a progressive, and a passionate one at that that I was not an ideologue, nor have I ever been.
A few weeks ago I was reading B.H. Liddell-Hart’s biography of General William Tecumseh Sherman and I was struck by the title of the chapter describing Sherman’s warnings to people in the South and the North of what secession and civil war would bring to the country. His predictions turned out to be more correct than almost anyone of his time, others such as Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant would within the year begin to come to Sherman’s point of view, but many people and leaders in both the North and South were much too slow to comprehend his warning. The chapter was titled “A Realist in Wonderland.” As I reflected in it, and then looked back to the articles I have been writing about the rapidly changing political climate and polarization in the country that my views are much like Sherman, I am much more pragmatic than many people in the country. I do have my passionate beliefs, and yes though I am a liberal and progressive, I am still moderate. But my moderatation is better described as realism. I have a hard time being arguments from either side of the political and ideological spectrum that are not grounded in political, economic, social, technological, diplomatic, cultural, or military reality, as well as human nature. Likewise, I do not jump on the bandwagon of any movement without looking at it in context of what it will mean for all of us.
Since I am a historian, a theologian with a fair amount of training in psychology and sociology, coupled with the fact and I am a man who has spent over 90% of my adult life in the military and 86% of that time as an officer I am a consummate realist.
Sadly, in today’s world, realism is not often practiced. Ideologues on all sides of the political spectrum fan passionate hatred of all that oppose them, even in minor details. Politicians of all stripes promise things that cannot be delivered because they are not based in political or economic realities, compromise and cooperation is shunned in favor of extreme positions than when examined seldom pass the muster of reality and their proponents seldom thing of the second, third, and fourth order effects of their policies if enacted. I think the recent Brexit is an example of that and what happens now will change the world. In some cases those changes may be good, in other realms bad, and some potentially disastrous. How those changes unfold, and what the consequences will be, is dependent on all of us and who the political leaders that we elect deal with the issues, as well as the leaders of commerce and industry.
In fact I would dare say that the United States today is as divided as it was in the mid to late 1850s and that our political parties are undergoing the same kind of disintegration as occurred to the Whigs and Democrats of that era, with new movements; some based on economics, some on the idea of emancipation and freedom, and some based on anti-immigrant racial and religious xenophobia arising. But I digress…
We can look to history to try to understand the nature of our situation, but what we become will be based on our human nature, and how we rise to the occasion. It will be a challenging time, and to get back to what I started with, I think that the change in the blog title is better descriptive of me and my views.
Have a great day and I hope that you continue to enjoy what I post, learn from it, be challenged, and spread the word that there is a realist in wonderland.