The great Jewish sage, Rabbi Hillel, lived in the land of Israel in the first century BCE. The Talmud, Shabbat 31a, relates the following story:
A prospective convert to Judaism asked Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one leg. Hillel replied: “That which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah, the rest is commentary. Go forth and study.”
I learned this story as a child in Yeshiva Flatbush elementary school. The lesson created a profound moral landscape. It also taught the importance of brevity, the ability to neatly summarize complex thoughts.
Torah education is great preparation for a screenwriter.
I was thinking about this story the other day when a friend from the movie business, an agent, asked me why I was a Conservative. We were on the phone, both of us rushed, there was not a great deal of time.
I pondered a moment, took a deep breath and said:
“Liberals believe in rights for selected groups that leads to an outcome engineered by the state. Conservatives believe in equal opportunity for all individuals where the state gets out of the way. Liberals champion rights; Conservatives freedom. Now, go read The Constitution.”
My friend said nothing for a long moment, then asked me if I thought Warhorse, the new Spielberg movie, would go through the roof.
Thomas Sowell elaborates on the differences between Conservative and Liberal ideology with “Alice in Liberal Land.”
The strange and bizarre characters found in “Alice in Wonderland” have counterparts in the political vision of Liberal Land today. Among the most interesting of these characters are those elites who are convinced that they are so much smarter than the rest of us that they feel both a right and a duty to take all sorts of decisions out of our incompetent hands — for our own good.
In San Francisco, which is Liberal Land personified, there have been attempts to ban the circumcision of newborn baby boys. Fortunately, that was nipped in the bud. But it shows how widely the self-anointed saviors of Liberal Land feel entitled to take decisions out of the hands of mere ordinary citizens.
Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner says, “We’re facing a very consequential debate about some fundamental choices as a country.” People talk that way in Liberal Land. Moreover, such statements pass muster with those who simply take in the words, decide whether they sound nice to them, and then move on.
But, if you take words seriously, the more fundamental question is whether individuals are to remain free to make their own choices, as distinguished from having collectivized choices, “as a country” — which is to say, having choices made by government officials and imposed on the rest of us.
The history of the 20th century is a painful lesson on what happens when collective choices replace individual choices. Even leaving aside the chilling history of totalitarianism in the 20th century, the history of economic central planning shows it to have been such a widely recognized disaster that even communist and socialist governments were abandoning it as the century ended.
Complete article at the Washington Examiner.