We have spoken in the past about how many shallow thinkers are knee jerk, and that liberals take advantage of that. I suppose it is only fair to allow that there are knee jerks across the political and philosophic spectrum. Of course there are; but the more conservative, more traditional thinking ones, however shallow their reactions may be, are safer than the rest.
Those who react to stimuli rather than act on principle, the ones who respond in selfish ways to the conditions in their lives instead of really thinking about what they might truly need or what may be best for society in general, pose a threat to everyone’s well being. This includes, yes, right wing reactionaries. But they at least have principle on their side, however tenuously the connection may be. They are, dare I say it, on the right side. We must keep them in our camp for two reasons.
First, if someone is starting from the correct point of view there is a greater chance of leading them into holding the right attitudes for the right reasons. If the foundation is there, a sturdy building may be built. Second, in holding to the best principles they are themselves more likely to lead others into the fold. Perhaps their obstinacy may demonstrate to others that they might actually be on to something, especially considering that truth is its own best calling card, one which can be read even in the dimmest light.
Liberal knee jerks, however, on their own level teach selfishness. They may occasionally lead someone onto the path of righteousness, but that would be incidental in the way that a bad example is good as a lesson in error. Poor thinking by and large only leads to poorer thinking.
We see that in the sexual permissiveness of our society. One of the reasons, for example, that gay marriage is wrong is that acceptance of one type of error easily leads to acceptance of other errors. Once a taboo is broken, and that could be any taboo mind you, it is easier to break more even in seemingly unrelated areas. For we are creatures of habit, and poor habits in one aspect of our lives may lead to poor habits in others. If sexual morality is off the table as liberals wish, then it really is a short hop to wondering whether stealing is wrong. For the moral imperative, the Tao of C.S. Lewis if you will, is a whole. Disease in one part of society is bad for the entire community just as a cancerous lung threatens the whole body.
True, conservative knee jerks may drive people away by their callousness, and shame on them for that when and as it may happen. Yet even then, if we are to believe that we are actually responsible for ourselves, the person driven off is no less responsible for seeking the just and true. For we are still obliged to seek the true and the just and act accordingly. It is how we become better people.
So cut the right wing curmudgeon a little slack. He at least has tradition on his side. The left have only the shallow pool of selfishness. It can dry out in the sun. A pool of good thought is more readily able to become an ocean of justice. It will withstand the heat of the moment.