Monday, February 05, 2007

Conservatives Against Change

Conservatives just never change.  I just read of Orango Island off the African coast that has remained relatively isolated for a long time.  Apparently, Orango is one of the few places where it is the long established custom that women propose marriage to men by bringing them a special fish dish; and that it is considered improper for a man to propose to a woman.  The story cites an old dude who was courted when he was 14, and even though he didn’t love the girl before he ate the dish, all that changed after he ate it.  He was in love.  As a side note, let me just say that I don’t think I’m ever eating at her restaurant.

Well it seems like modern society is finally catching up with these islanders, and now upstart modernists are turning the island topsy-turvy with their radical ideas and perverse courting rituals.

As the article says:
"Now the world is upside down," complained 90-year-old Cesar Okrane, his eyes obscured by a cloud of cataracts. "Men are running after women, instead of waiting for them to come to them."

For a man to go so far as to openly propose marriage is dangerous, say traditionalists on this island of 2,000 people.

"The choice of a woman is much more stable," explains Okrane. "Rarely were there divorces before. Now, with men choosing, divorce has become common."

Records are not readily available, but islanders agree that there are significantly more divorces now than in the years when men waited patiently for a proposal on a plate.

Sound familiar?  Of course.  Change is bad.  Natural order must prevail.  Tradition trumps all.  But who’s to blame for the divorces now?  Christians.  Christians and their radical ideas of marriage.  What’s next?  That they introduce teh gay to these poor islanders?  All is lost.

Paper Clips of the World

And what it all comes down to is ritual and comfort zones.  People settle down to a convenient way of doing things and it just bothers them when things change.  Once upon a time, a group decides to start doing something new, and before you know it, it becomes a critical practice which must be continued forever, or risk destroying everything.  Perhaps there was once a good reason for the practice, or perhaps it was arbitrary.  But it’s now set in stone and it is the sheerest folly to stop doing it.

And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that kind of thing.  I myself have stupid weird quirks of how I like things to be done.  Like paperclips.  I hate them.  I’ll use them when I don’t want things permanently fastened, but can’t stand it when people paperclip things that should obviously be stapled.  And if the papers aren’t straight enough, I will unstaple them and do it again, just to get them straight.  And I’m a CPA, so you know that’s a lot of paper clips and a lot of staples.  And I hate wasting paper.  It’s like a sin for me.  I could go on and on.

But the point is that these people take things beyond the level of quirks, and want to make a religion out of their personal pet peeves and preferences.  Something bothers them and they don’t even like the idea of having to explain it.  It is as it must be, and no other argument will suffice.

Rationalizing Resistence

And I think that’s what makes someone a conservative.  When you get past the point of organizing your own life, and insist on organizing everyone else’s to match your personal preferences.  Not for the good of society, but for your own personal well-being.  Not because it needs to be that way, but because it feels better.  There’s some part of their brains that makes them want things to be a certain way, and they’re just not very good at dealing with it when things aren’t that way.  

And I think it’s because they just aren’t good at organizing their lives.  Things don’t make sense for them because they just don’t make sense.  And so they insist on organizing the entire planet to their liking, rather than learning to adapt to what the rest of the planet wants.  It’s like they just lack the ability to adapt.  Their brains can’t adjust and it all just freaks them out.  

And so they classify the world into two groups: The people with enough commonsense to agree with them, and the Bad People.  And the Bad People group is always much larger than the group that agrees with them.  But for them, that’s not evidence that they’re doing anything wrong, but rather a clear indication of how crazy the world is.

And so they invent all kinds of stupid-ass justifications of why things shouldn’t change.  Because the Founding Fathers didn’t say we should.  Or skyrocketing divorce rates, which can be attributed to feminists or masculinists, depending on which conservative’s life is changing.  Or God’s punishing us.  Or whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  If they can’t find a good-sounding reason, they’ll settle on a bad one.  They don’t care.  All they care about is making sure that the world works the way they want it.  

And frankly, I think Orango Island’s courting ritual is kind of cute.  But if enough people want a change, the change is going to happen.  And the more conservatives use their institutional power to stop change, the worse things are going to be once that change finally happens.  And too often, the violence and disorder that conservatives use as evidence of the dangers of change, should really be attributed to those same conservatives, for having delayed the change for too long and created a situation in which violence and disorder became the only effective outlet for change.  But I guess that’s yet another facet of conservatives which will never change.

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