Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend a hand
For the times they are a-changin'
Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin'
Throughout history, conservatives have constantly fought tooth and nail against equality and justice, but the question remains, why? Could it be a sickness?
What's up with conservatives anyway? Time after time, they have been shown to have been on the wrong side of history, standing strong, tall and proud against justice, equality and progress.
Yet in the present they always seem to stubbornly cling to their bankrupt way of thinking, as they insist on opposing all progressive change, whatever it may be. Of course, today's typical conservative wouldn't defend slavery or deny women the vote, but the conservative mind remains the same, it's just the topics under discussion that change.
Take the environment. As all evidence points to the rapid destruction of our planet due to global warming, conservatives, such as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President George W. Bush, do everything they can to stall any and all progress in the fight to save the planet for future generations. All that matters to them is the economy, the economy, the economy; the future of the Earth be damned.
Or take the Anglican Church. The conservatives there are threatening to break away from the main church due to their revulsion at women being made bishops. You wouldn't want a woman as your spiritual superior now would you?
And then there are the conservatives in the Catholic Church, which, sadly, includes those in control at the Vatican. These conservatives seem to oppose just about any change or modernization: the role of women in the church, doing away with the bizarre tradition of celibate priests, allowing the use of birth control”¦you name it.
Likewise, when it comes to treating all citizens equally, regardless of their sexual orientation, conservatives of all stripes are adamant in their desire to deny gay people equal rights to marriage, adoption, et cetera. But why would anyone oppose the marriage of two people who love one another and want to spend their lives together?
Ironically, religion, which normally insists on institutionalized marriage, would seem to be the main culprit. Especially in America, which, unlike Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, has a lunatic fringe of born-again fundamentalist Christian freaks who, particularly down south in the Bible Belt, are not really all that fringe at all. In fact, they have somehow actually become part of the mainstream down there.
However, the strong opposition to gay marriage can't simply be explained away by the fact that America is so radically religious compared to the rest of the Western World. Instead, it has much more to do with the conservative mindset. Religious conservatives can certainly be the most entrenched in their positions, supposing God to be on their side and all, but conservatives don't, by any means, need to be religious to be stubbornly opposed to a more just world.
And it’s not just Catholic, Anglican and North American conservatives. No, let me be perfectly clear, I'm most definitely also talking about African, Asian and European conservatives, Islamic conservatives, Hindu conservatives, Communist conservatives, Orthodox Jews, Mormons, the Taliban, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, you name it.
The fact of the matter is that throughout history conservatives have supported horrible injustice and have almost always backed it up with a few quotes from the Bible (or the Koran or one set of holy scriptures or another) that have supposedly shown just how right they were and just how much God has always indisputably supported things such as slavery, women as the property of their husbands, or the separation of the races.
No matter how unjust, unfair, cruel or despicable the situation, conservatives have always been there to defend the status quo.Here's a shortlist of the changes conservatives have opposed (and often fought tooth and nail against) over the years, sticking for the moment to the West and, specifically, America.
”¢ The end of slavery
”¢ Women being granted the legal status of equal human beings and no longer being considered the property of their husbands or fathers
”¢ Women being given the vote
”¢ The end of racial segregation
”¢ The introduction of universal health-care and other social programs
”¢ The introduction of the Pill
”¢ The repeal of laws that legally allowed men to beat, and rape, their wives
”¢ The decriminalization of homosexuality; that is, the end of criminalizing 10% of the population for simply being who they are
And, not too many years ago now, the legalization of inter-racial marriage. Yes, let's not forget that inter-racial marriage was illegal in most states in the good ol' U.S. of A. until quite recently.
So, with conservatives coming out on the wrong side of justice and equality time and time again, the only real question is: what exactly is wrong with them? Why can't they see what is so glaringly obvious to the rest of us, that they're always on the side of pathetic small-mindedness, fighting passionately against the creation of a more fair, just and equal society?
It must be a sickness, and these poor conservatives simply can't help themselves when it comes to passionately fighting against any and all measures that would make for a more just world. This condition, let's call it "conservativitus", clearly involves a serious deficiency in both compassion and empathy, a coldness of the heart, if you will... perhaps brought on, at least in America, by an overexposure to Christian rock and/or FOX News.
Whatever the cause, these conservatives, as if inflicted with a bad case of Tourette's Syndrome, seem to be unable to control their impulse to scream out "No fucking way!!" whenever any change is proposed to make the world a better place.
So, whenever you see or hear a conservative, I urge you to try to remember that they are sick and, instead of condemning them, please wish them well. It's the least you can do. They may sneer back at you, but don't take it personally, it's all just part of the disease.
Mike Cowie is a writer currently embarked on a book about his three-year trip across Asia with his wife, Sonoko. Read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.