THE PRINCIPLED IMPULSE
There is a difference between the pique of emotion and the ardent feeling that comes with a principled impulse to act.
David Mamet, whether in his lauded Drama or his new book, The Secret Knowledge, has a gift for engaging the brain and the heart all at once. He has beautifully articulated the differences in the modern-vs. classical-liberal impulse to force a type of justice through government intervention because of a sentimental feeling for the supposed victim of injustice. This is different than the modern conservative impulse to adhere to agreed-upon rules-such as the Constitution-in order to dispassionately adjudicate purported wrongs through a process of justice. It occurred to me that it is essential that conservatives understand this key aspect of our ideology, so we may frame it rhetorically, and so we may teach it to our children whom, we hope, will grow up to be Patriots: Emotion and sentiment; the visceral sensations that arise in response to any number of stimulations, whether they be physical or psychological, are not the same as the principled impulse to act, which may be called fervor or passion for a cause. One is fleeting and based upon the passing conditions that move rhythmically and seasonally through our conscious and somatic states.
Much has been made of “feelings” over the last few decades. Some of this pop-culture/counseling dogma comes from a sincere desire to be more thoughtful and less inclined to inflict permanent harm to the tender psyches of others, especially children. But so much of this intentional softening of the West is an effort to establish emotion as a superior reference point for action to that of thought. It is the proverbial “dumbing down” of culture. Many still buy into the drivel. But a class of individuals, more (self) educated in the founding documents and principles of the United States of America, is drawing away from the psychobabble and toward those self-evident truths which actually work to strengthen individuals and the civilized society.
When we teach our children about the History of America-or about the wonderful human accounts in the Standard Works of scripture, for that matter-it is important to teach them that the people in the stories are just like us; they feel, they fear, they hurt, and they die, sometimes painfully. And when we teach of courage, we must talk about the principled impulse that comes, not as a passing fancy or a thoughtless urge, but as a consummate devotion to an idea. An example of such an idea would be that men have unalienable rights given to them by their Creator. This is an idea based upon truth-perhaps not an immediately provable, temporal truth-but upon eternal and God given principles which have been framed from the foundations of the Earth as the irrevocable conditions which pertain to the creation and plan of God, which was made for the exaltation of His children.
My admonition to my friends-and we call ourselves Conservatives and Patriots-is to understand and nurture the principled impulse, and share your knowledge with all you know and love. We are, and will be, under personal and national assault by evils within and without our communities and our government for many years. We have to stand firm in principle, discerning the rush of blazing emotions from the impulse to act when it is a principled thing to do so. We may feel alone, we may be frustrated, and we will surely be exhausted. But we cannot act frantically or in gut response to wrongs and hurts and slanderous torments from our adversaries. We have no choice but to be the “adults in the room.” We must be in control. Acting with self-mastery and principle is the emblem of a truly liberated generation.
by Marjorie Haun 7/20/2011