(Syndicated Columnist & Centennial Fellow) Some liberals inform us that conservative criticism of President Barack Obama is racially motivated, which is why they would no doubt be surprised that conservatives gathered in Denver recently gave some of their loudest cheers for presidential aspirant Herman Cain. Did they not notice he was black?Of course they did, but it didn't matter. By the calculations of my own internal applause meter, they were at least meagerly less enthusiastic about the speeches of white Republican candidate Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and white Texas governor Rick Perry, whose hints he'll run are about as subtle as his state is small.They also embraced the remarks of several other blacks, including those of Juan Williams. You'll remember he was the Fox commentator who also worked for National Public Radio before it decided to crack down on free speech.He had said on Fox that he might feel nervous seeing Muslims at an airport because he knew some radical Muslims had given us 9/11, but made it clear such feelings were out of place because most Muslims were fine, decent folks. You would have to be insane or a left-wing zealot to think that's a firing offense, but I repeat myself. At any rate, the issue is between the NPR bosses of the time and their psychiatrists.Juan Williams is himself a liberal, and still got a warm reception at the Western Conservative Summit. Consider that and then consider what conservative commentator Ann Coulter has to take with her when she gives speeches on liberal campuses -- bodyguards. This audience heaped huzzahs on Williams when he said all sides need to listen to each other, and this brings me to stating explicitly what I've been hinting at: While obviously passionate on some subjects, the people attending were also polite, cheerful, informed, reasonable and the possible salvation of America.I make a point of this not because it is unusual to find Americans cut of the same courteous, constructive cloth, but because whole bunches of left-wingers are forever telling us the Tea Party activists, Christian conservatives, economic conservatives and libertarian enthusiasts have the compassion of al Qaeda and the intellectual heft of a Dick-and-Jane reader. What was the word Vice President Joe Biden used about the Tea Party the other day -- terrorists? Lefties resort to this ad hominem attack because the world has been busily disproving their worn-out idea of a statist utopia while the principles of conservatives are as fresh as the founders were, are and will be.Speaking of that, the most important content point of the conference was that this nation is in deep, deep trouble, partly because of an overwhelming debt, but also because of a steady march toward dignity-denying, freedom-cheating, socialist-style ambitions making serfs of us all, and a wimpy, blame-us, sovereignty-erasing foreign policy. Making the latter observation was the brilliant John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and future secretary of state if a Republican with sense gets elected president in 2012. To me, the scariest thing he talked about was how a nuclear-armed Iran could be a WMD supplier to real terrorists (not members of the Tea Party) and would definitely change the balance of power. Our White House fiddles while this issue irradiates.Also hugely impressive was Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute and someone making the factually demonstrable point that nations that cut spending to get themselves out of debt are many times more successful than those that try to tax themselves out of debt, or even tax and cut.I'd like to talk about all the speakers, but must now move on to full disclosure by bragging that I am an uncompensated fellow of the Centennial Institute, the think tank that organized and sponsored the conference along with small but culture-changing Colorado Christian University, where I'll help teach a course this fall. For that I will be paid and won't mind a bit.Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
Faced with another fellow’s misfortune, some genuinely yearn to help. Some believe that they do, although they may not acknowledge a less honorable motive, not even to themselves. Some witting or not truly seek either ego-strokes or control or both.
A profoundly significant difference delineates the truly humane helper from the self-serving one: their objective -- for the genuine helper, a beneficiary; for the others, power. But determining the subtle distinction requires seeing beneath their surface similarity.
The false helper’s quarry is people who have been, or can be persuaded that they have been, victimized. When a helper identifies a victim, he offers to alleviate the victim’s real or imagined hardship. It doesn’t matter whether or not the helper actually can significantly change anything, or even whether or not he actually intends to try. The objective has been gained.
But at whose cost? The false helper will not pay. Rather, he will find a means for luring or forcing others to do so. Worse, the victim pays with his freedom and his dignity.
Except for those self-activating ones who refuse the role, the victimization sequence becomes self-perpetuating. Once defined as a victim, the susceptible person absorbs the role of helpless dependence. The acquiescent victim comes to require subsidies, special treatment and privileges, emotional and financial support, ever more aid. Spiraling downward, the “victim” finally does indeed become a victim, ruined by the helper -- well-meant or insidious.
In the July-August 2010 Centennial Review and his presentation at the 2010 Western Conservative Summit, author and business professor Arthur Brooks observed that, far less than monetary rewards, it is satisfaction that motivates achievers. Effective people crave a sense of accomplishment. By drowning a victim in welfare and ease, the helper denies him of any chance for achievement and robs him of his self-worth.
Moreover, Brooks noted, the satisfaction-starved victim naturally becomes increasingly unhappy. Never strengthened and thus never empowered to surmount life’s challenges, the victim cannot savor simple contentment. Thus the victim develops a genuine grievance.
At that point the true helper feels deep frustration, for his well-intentioned efforts have only worsened the victim’s plight. But, for the false self-serving helper, this is the moment! Now he has power and control. Now his ego gleams.
All false helpers gain a powerful ego-rush. What could be more self-elevating than the role of rescuer? By declaring another as victim, the helper feels soaringly superior.
So addictive is this ego-rush, self-serving helpers constantly seek out new victims -- unsuccessful people, threatened species, even our planet. Find or conjure a problem, declare an enemy, sally into the limelight, bask in the warm glow of feeling powerful and significant and popular.
That woeful victimization sequence also demonstrates the fundamental and lasting difference between Conservatives and the Left. Of course, Conservatives demand fiscal responsibility and Constitutionality. In addition, Conservatives care deeply about social and environment problems. Indeed, Conservatives’ generosity and efforts in aid of true misfortune outshines any doubt. Nonetheless, Conservatives address suffering entirely differently.
First, Conservatives do not create victims because Conservatives do not seek the power, the control, nor the ego-rush. Quite the contrary, Conservatives cherish independence and empowerment for all.
Even more illustrative is the means that Conservatives or the Left apply to alleviating problems. The Left immediately calls forth the State, legislating regulations and compelling taxpayer support. In contrast, when a Conservative encounters a genuine problem, he pursues a solution on his own or through the voluntary cooperation of like-minded companions perhaps a civic club, faith group or local charity.
The Left’s goal is diminishing the victim to perpetual dependency, whereas the Conservative’s goal is restoring him to success. Conservatives work to empower individuals, whereas the Left culls power from citizens to the State.
All Statist regimes, even the originally well-intentioned, must garner more and more power over an ever wider spectrum of activities involving larger and larger segments of the population. The eventual outcome is tyranny. Thus the helpers become oppressors and we all become the State’s victims.
Simón Bolivár concisely declaimed this dire destination, “A state too extensive in itself or … its dependencies ultimately falls into decay, its free government … into tyranny; it … finally degenerates into despotism….”
How to escape this devolution into tyranny? Preserving precious individual freedom requires courage, perseverance and vigilance, ever asserting our right to self-activation, ever rejecting intrusive “help.” Preserving individual freedom further requires demanding adherence to Constitutional limits on overweening government. Individual freedom must have as its foundation the Rule of Law. As truly compassionate helpers, we Conservatives strengthen our fellow citizens and thus strengthen our nation to withstand the false self-serving helpers’ persistent onslaught. Then we may all thrive.
('76 Editor) This week Centennial Institute officially begins its second year. We're working to become known in Colorado and nationally as the open forum where current issues are tested against timeless principles.
Our Spring 2010 events calendar features topics from drug policy to mobility strategies to the Christian testimony of an ex-Muslim terrorist. We'll also feature Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute on capitalism in crisis, Douglas Bruce on taxpayer protection in Colorado, and Michael Poliakoff on the classical legacy of Vergil.
The full schedule, confirmed with a few exceptions, is below. There's no charge for these events, but space is limited, so you will need to reserve early.
For reservations, email Centennial@ccu.edu or call 303.963.3424.
Wednesday, February 17, 7pmCCU Music CenterDebate: "Why Not Legalize All Marijuana?"State Rep. Tom Massey, State Sen. Sean Mitchell,DA Carol Chambers, Attorney Jessica Corry----------------------------------------- Monday, February 22, 7pmCCU Business School 101Issue Monday: "Mobility Solutions for Colorado"Randal O'Toole, Author of "Gridlock"----------------------------------------- Wednesday, March 3, 12 noonCCU Dining Commons AnnexLuncheon Briefing: "Confronting Radical Islam"Tawfik Hamid, Author of "The Roots of Jihad"----------------------------------------- Monday, March 15, 7pmCCU Beckman Center 202Issue Monday: "Vergil's Epic of Western Civilization"Dr. Michael Poliakoff, Former Academic VP, University of Colorado----------------------------------------- Friday, March 19, 730amBrown Palace HotelPolicy Breakfast: "Reviving Democratic Capitalism"Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute----------------------------------------- Wednesday, April 7, 12 noonCCU Dining Commons AnnexLuncheon Briefing: "From Muslim Terrorist to Christian Believer"Kamal Saleem, Author of "The Blood of Lambs"----------------------------------------- Wednesday, April 14, 7pmCCU Music CenterLecture: "Defending Liberty"Wayne LaPierre, President, National Rifle Association (invited)----------------------------------------- Monday, April 19, 7pmCCU Beckman Center 202Issue Monday: "Taxpayer Protection in Colorado, 1985-2010"Douglas Bruce, Author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights
||medical marijuana, arthur brooks, wayne lapierre, douglas bruce, radical islam, terrorism, tabor amendment, randal o'toole, carol chambers, jessica corry, tawfik hamid, kamal saleem
||Centennial Institute | Colorado | Culture | Policy
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