Written on Sunday, July 1, 2012 by Ralph Barker
The terms “left” and “right” are bantered about frequently today and some still don’t understand what those terms mean. Thanks to the media these terms have become contemporary labels for Democrats (left) and Republicans (right). This is generally accurate, but a little too simplistic. There are those within each of the two parties that don’t earn or deserve these particular labels. And, there are some that are too extreme for either label.
I remember some years ago my mother asked me, “Ralph, Am I on the right or the left?” Since she was mostly apolitical but would vote conservative when I asked her to, I told her she was on the right. She seemed happy about that. I was.
The history of these terms is intriguing. From what I have discovered the terms originated in 1879 during the time of the French Revolution. It came about because those in the French National Assembly who supported the King, the nobles who were more conservative, stood on his right hand. Those who opposed him, progressives, revolutionaries and those who were more liberal stood on his left.
Word Wizard adds that the term “right” can also mean “correct” and the term “left” from its Latin origins can mean “sinister.” Sounds good to me. Somebody alert Sean Hannity.
Today, we automatically think in terms of the right standing for smaller government, less taxes, less regulation and more freedom. The left is usually associated with more government programs and bureaucracy, more taxes, and more regulation. Again, generally true.
It certainly appears to be a fact that the left is and has been far more violent than the right over the past few centuries. The not-too-distant memories of the Worker’s Paradise, China, Vietnam, Yemen, Nicaragua, and Cuba immediately come to mind. Each of these resulted in the deaths of millions of people.
Simply take into account the death toll of modern communism, which is definitely part of the far left. The Black Book of Communism claims that 100 million people have died directly due to communism. I’ve heard figures much higher than that, but that is high enough. It is nearly impossible to get totally accurate figures. The Soviets and other communist regimes were not as precise keeping killing records as Hitler’s people were. If you classify Nazi Germany as right wing, which I dispute, then you can attribute 25 million deaths to them.
It is also difficult to determine how many have died indirectly due to communistic or extreme left governments because of inadequate shelter, medicine or food. It is certainly true that the living conditions and opportunities to improve living conditions are almost totally nonexistent in communist countries. Only as they allow some capitalism does the quality of life improve. This is taking place to some extent in China right now.
The media, which is currently associated with the left, routinely downplays violence on the left such as when environmentalists or animal rights people destroy public or private property. They are outraged and mobilized, however, when someone on the right turns violent. I recall a few such instances when an abortionist was murdered or someone identified as a right-winger destroyed an abortion clinic. These quickly become front-page stories, like forever.
America is historically a center-right country. Americans don’t want too much government control or too much unrestrained freedom. Even freedom has to have lawful limits. Extreme movements in political direction, right or left, can be dangerous and destructive to a people.
Those of us who associate with the right are mistaken when we try to make the case that the philosophy of the right is equal to a biblical position. There are many faults in the conservative worldview that we won’t examine here. It is however, I believe, closer to a biblical worldview than some others.
I still hold to my long-time conviction that liberalism is evil. It currently upholds much of what Scripture specifically condemns such as homosexuality, abortion, and stealing (redistributing the wealth). The Ten Commandments applies to nations too. Stealing is stealing. Inflation is also a form of theft (Isaiah 1:21-26).
As I often preach, our only hope is to work as far as faulty humans can to effect biblical change in America. If we can be somewhat successful to apply God’s principles to government, economics, business, family, and ethics we will begin to move in the proper direction.
I will not attempt to make a theological case here, although I think it is possible, but Scripture does address the concepts of left and right.
A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left (Ecclesiastes 10:2 NASB). This follows logically doesn’t it? If you are wise, you vote conservative and if you are foolish you vote liberal.