Conservative Tenet # 2

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2. The natural inequality of men, except in the equal possession of a precious soul and inviolable personality

Hoo-hah. Natural inequality of men. And women, too, I suppose.

And the trouble is, I’m in agreement with Mr. Rossiter’s Conservative on this one, although I would phrase it entirely differently. The essential point, however, is that life isn’t fair. I don’t remember the details, but William Goldman, in The Princess Bride, tells a story about how he first was told “No, you won’t win the next one.” The person he was playing (maybe tennis?) against was, in fact, bigger, stronger and faster than he was, and young Master Goldman was unlikely ever to beat him at that game.

We are often told, specifically or by indirection, that some people are big and some small, some fast and some slow, some smart and some stupid, some healthy and some sickly, and that it all balances out in the end. It is not usually pointed out to us that there are a few who are fast, strong, smart, and healthy, and that some are small, slow, stupid and sickly.

This is observably true; gifts do not always balance out, and the pretense that they do is, when discarded, likely to lead to elitism on the other side.

In fact, the second part of the sentence is the first and most important part. Those who are small, slow, stupid and sickly are in the possession of souls worth as much as the souls of the lucky. The “inviolable personality” is not dependent on talent or skill, beauty or brains. I love my brother (my actual brother, that is, my parents’ son, not my metaphorical if-all-men-were-brothers-would-you-let-one-marry-your-daughter brother) not because he is clever, or handsome, or kind, or just, or good, or a good shot, or a fine cook, or politically acute. He may have a nice singing voice, and he may not; it is irrelevant to my connection to him. I am prepared (perhaps reluctantly) to admire or even attempt to imitate his better traits; I am prepared to forgive and perhaps overlook his lesser ones. Why? Because of an accident of history, in this case, birth.

So, let me reformulate the Conservative Belief # 2 to make it more to my taste: Each human is in possession of an equally precious soul and an equally inviolable personality, despite the natural inequality of gifts, talents, and skills.

Thank you,