An interview with writer Chidike Okeem on black conservatism—its heroes, principles, and misrepresentations.
Truth vs. Bleeding Heart Liberals
We’ve all encountered these sorts of people before.
You know, maybe it’s that one guy on campus who won’t admit that the welfare state isn’t working, no matter how many facts are thrown at him. Or maybe it’s that girl who fearfully clings to the mantra of “a woman’s right to choose” whenever her conscience detects the hideous issue of abortion re-surfacing. No matter how much truth is thrown at them, these so-called “bleeding heart liberals” seem incapable of acknowledging reality.
As political conservatives, we might often find ourselves scratching our heads, musing: “why won’t they just be reasonable? Why won’t they just see things how they really are? Why won’t they just concede the truth of the matter?”
But in our individual attempts to redeem mankind, unadulterated and unfiltered truth can actually cause more harm than health. As Plutarch, an ancient Greek historian, astutely observes: “he who administers truth to a patient is like a doctor who administers a dosage; the skillful doctor avoids killing the patient by administering the proper dosage at the proper time.”
Unfortunately, such classical wisdom concerning interpersonal dialogue has fallen on deaf ears among many of the most prominent heads of conservative talk radio, who in turn have influenced how many of us have come to think and talk about our contemporaries.
Listening to such a talk-show hosts, one needn’t wait long to hear things like: “You KNOW I’m right…”
Or, “Do you worship at the altar of Obama, huh, do you?…”
Or even, “get off the phone you big dope!”
Not exactly lofty rhetorical devices. And quite honestly, not helpful either.
Admittedly, I used to be a conservative talk-show junkie. But four reflective years at a liberal arts college, and the insights of John Henry Newman in his Idea of a University, have enabled me to recognize the larger picture, and to respect the deeper forces and higher purposes at play in our lives.
It seems to reveal a deep lack of self-knowledge when, after packaging the truth in wrappings such as these, we scratch our heads and wonder “why won’t they accept what I’m offering?”
If what we genuinely desire is that truth bring about an authentic conversion of mind and heart, perhaps we should look to the timeless wisdom of the Christian tradition, a tradition which incorporated the insights of the ancient pagans such as Plutarch. For in this tradition, the living and breathing Christ truly receives us as a “bleeding heart liberal,” waiting for us to carve out time and silence in which the Holy Spirit can calm our minds, heal our spirits, and enable us to reform our lives.
With Christ, the truth is never used as a weapon. Rather, for him, truth always serves the purpose of that which makes life worthwhile: love.
As Cardinal Ratzinger says, “Blood and water flowed from the pierced heart of Jesus. True to Zechariah’s prophecy, the Church in every century has looked upon this pierced heart and recognized therein the source of the blessings that are symbolized in blood and water.” (Jesus of Nazareth, Part II, pg. 225)
Maybe that’s why the early pagans (the Obama supporters of their day) had an easier time accepting the truth: because it came from a bleeding heart, from a sympathetic heart, from a heart that looked through the eyes of truth and saw “sheep without a shepherd”, instead of targets for intellectual ammunition.
Once we start wrapping our truth in mature Christian love, perhaps then the gift of truth will have a chance to redeem, rather than to destroy, our brethren on the other side of the political aisle.
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