Monday, December 27, 2010

Living Conservative in a Liberal World (Part 6): A "recovered" liberal ...

NOTE: This is the final pre-written post on this string of posts. As I mentioned before, I will, from time to time revisit this topic thread. Hopefully, 2011 is a year of productive and happy blogging.

I sometimes describe myself as a recovered liberal. I first became politically aware back in the seventh grade. I remember the election of 1980 quite well. I remember going to the library on the bus after school and hearing people talking about the election. I said to one of the gentlemen, a Reagan supporter, something to the effect of 'Ronnie ray-gun will only get us into a war.'. The gentleman, an older gent by my recollection (of course when you are 12 anyone above their teens is "old"), said to me, "we have had four years of the clown, it is time for the cowboy."

I started attending church and going to youth group a few years later, and I remember listening to talk shows on the Christian radio station. As I listened, I heard a show featuring an interview with a guy by the name of Lindsey Williams who was exposing what he called "the energy non-crisis". He talked at length about "one world governments" and "the illuminati". He also referenced the then-current president of the United States, Ronald Reagan as being swayed by these secret groups. I made the assumption that Republicans were bad, and democrats were good. After all, people were starving around the world, and Republicans were in charge, didn't that make the fame in Ethiopia Reagan's fault? Working off of partial information and wild assumptions, I became a liberal. This lasted until my senior year in high school and that is when things began to change.

My senior year in high school, I had an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to go on a trip with a group of students to Washington DC as part of a program put on by the Close Up foundation. While we were there, we saw all of the sites and had educational programs. During our evening group discussion sessions, there were two liberals in the room, myself, and a young lady from Iowa. We argued our convictions with courage and passion, but by the end of the week, I was starting to question my beliefs.

Because I believed I lacked opportunities, I left to join the Navy right after high school ended. No one in my family had ever gone to college, and because we were barely making ends meet and couldn't afford the fees, I never took the SAT or ACT test. We couldn't afford college anyways, so why even try?

While I was in the Navy, I discovered many things. They say that boot camp makes or breaks you, well in my case it made me. I came out of boot camp far more confident than I went in. After boot camp, I went to Naval Air Station Memphis to attend my training school. While I was there, I spent a lot of time in a place called the Armed Forces Center, which was run by missionaries who were reaching out to military personnel on the base. In my time spent there, I came under the tutelage of two older military members who volunteered at the center. They taught me many things about constitutional government, patriotism and the founding of the United States. The more I learned, the more I realized that my previous beliefs were wrong, and by the end of my time in Memphis, I had abandoned them, but I didn't quite embrace conservatism yet.

As I had opportunity to travel the world and learn about the world and our own nation, I grew more and more conservative in my ideas. I came to realize that freedom from oppression and tyranny made all the difference in people's lives and lifestyles. I also learned that freedom from oppression and tyranny is more than being free from outside nations, but it encompasses being free within the borders of your own nation from excessive government intervention and interference in your life.

By the time I left the navy, I was a rock sold conservative. I based my convictions on my Christian beliefs, my observations of the world, and the writings of philosophers who believed in freedom and basic human rights. In the end, isn't that all you need?

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