Politics and relationships

The left and right wings of politics both have something to say. Photo by Rob Wicks on Unsplash

There are two competing points of view in the world.  One says that close relationships are special, that we should look after family, that life is a matter of supportive clubs and protected spaces.  Another says that everyone is special, and that ultimate enlightenment is realising the universality of love.

In politics, these become caricatured into right wing and left wing thinking.  Right wing thinking tends to point to the family as the primary unit of society, and to support the cordoning off of property for exclusive use.  Left wing thinking tends to point to society in general as a non-discriminatory whole, and to support the transfer of individual property to general use.

A right wing view of relationships is to undertake your nearest and dearest relationships well, to protect your kith and kin.  A left wing view of relationships is to undertake general love well, even if it means sacrificing the one special case for many equally special cases.

There is a strongly pragmatic side to right wing thinking.  A right-winger acknowledges that human nature forms special attachments, with a bias towards selfishness.  The practical thing to do is to accept that side of human nature, and work with it, but give it limitations.

Left wing thinking is arguably more idealist.  A left-winger wants to counteract selfish bias towards the one, with influence that privileges the many.  A left wing thinker may also believe that human nature contains elements of collaboration and cooperation, not just selfishness.

We are always living out the tension between left and right wing thinking.  We understand what family is, what property is, and what looking after your own means.  But we also understand what the wider world is, what sharing is, and what looking after each other means.  We have particular relationships, and we can also aspire to universal compassion.  We meet particular friends for coffee, and yet we can also meet the whole universe in our minds.

Today I will embrace the tension between left wing and right wing thinking. I will try to understand and empathise with those elements of humanity who try to promote close, protective relationships between kith and kin. I will also try to understand and empathise with those who promote universal compassion and justice.

My close friends and family are special to me, and yet everyone is special.