A Conservative approach to the modern world

Conservative stuck in the modern world

A conservative is someone that is old school and lately, the world has been rough on him.

With the ridiculous pace of technological growth and progress that humans have seen in the last century, society has seen a drastic change as well. Much of this change is welcome, as humans have learned from the mistakes of the past.

We now know that dictatorships do not work and never will, just one of the many lessons humans have learned as a civilization. However, the social change in society isn’t accepted equally.

conservative in the modern world

This is where the conservatives and the progressives come in. The conservatives resist change whereas the progressives relish it.

Being the old schools that conservatives are, they try to hold on to their values and morals. However, that becomes more and more difficult as they do have to participate in society too.

Meanwhile, the moderates are smugly looking towards both ends of the spectrum preaching neutrality.

Who are conservatives?

One does not need to be old, to be old school. People of any age can be conservative in their approach.

Conservatives are people that feel a sense of pride in upholding traditional values. They know what works and are skeptical of change.

According to Michael Oakeshott,

“To be conservative … is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.”

Michael Oakeshott,

A conservative mindset says – “It is better to stick with the devil you know”. However, change is inevitable, it is the only thing that is constant in the entire universe.

Resistance to change among conservatives

When this change eventually comes, conservatives struggle with the new reality. They try their hardest to take society back to what it was, but it isn’t always easy. The harder choice then is to be a part of society that keeps moving away from the conservative roots.

How can conservatives participate in a society that keeps evolving and what is more, how can they be true to themselves, if they do?

Well, an easy and superficial answer would be to just band together with other conservatives. “We don’t need to participate in a society that is away from our values if we can just isolate ourselves among other conservatives.“- One might think.

Well, that is a Band-Aid solution to the problem. It does not address the root cause.

conservative vs progressive

Understanding the resistance

Even though the society keeps changing rapidly, there is still a way to participate in it while staying true to yourself.

So many people that are old school, feel frustrated because they expect that old school treatment from others. The resistance that conservatives feel comes from (among other things) two major perspectives –

  1. Judgment- You start associating labels or judgment to new ideas- feeling like you know better.
  2. Force- a feeling that others should do what you feel is right. – Others should be forced to do this.

Either of those usually end in disappointment.

Conservative Judgment-

We can judge others, however, that takes away from our empathy. If we judge them, we will never be able to understand them.

The other thing that happens while we judge others is that we end up constricting ourselves up too. Since those who judge others, judge themselves too.

Conservative Force-

When we try to force our beliefs onto others, it starts creating friction. The people that are forced might have to give in and follow what is imposed on them but it is only temporary.

The resistance to that force keeps building up until the breaking point, which leads those people to go to extreme positions. Now the people that were forced are even further from the conservative values than they were before.

True conservative position

Therefore, what can we really conclude from this? Are conservatives just destined to be disappointed and is there no way for an old-fashioned person to be a part of modern society?

Not at all, the answer is opposite in fact. Old-fashioned people feel so much resistance to the modern world because it is moving away from the values they hold.

However, the real reason conservatives love the traditional way is not those values, it is because of their principles. Values and principles are quite different from one another.

A conservative might think that he loves traditional values more than anything but values by themselves aren’t enough.

What conservatives really admire deep down are the principles that were the foundation of character, much more than traditional values.

Where values are individualistic and surface level, principles are universal and timeless. Social values have changed so far throughout history and will continue to change as long as humans exist.

Principles however have withstood the test of time and conservatives, in particular, understand this better than ever. They know that it is only through solid foundations of principles that institutions can stay strong for decades.

Entire countries exist due to the principles written in their constitutions that their citizens pledge to abide by.

In Conclusion

The entire struggle of a conservative stems from his attachment to traditional values. While holding on to those values is not bad per se, trying to expect others to follow them is a lost cause.

However, if a conservative aligns his life to the truly timeless conservative ideals, he will never find himself disappointed. Ideals that rely on principles of Integrity, fairness, patience, growth, liberty, and treating every human with dignity.

To thrive in the modern world a conservative should let go of his attachment to traditional values and instead live a life based on principles.

A principled life will not only enable him to live in harmony with the constantly evolving world but also serve as an inspiration to others as he leads by example.

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