THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin


Consider the sparrow, a small, drab, nondescript creature singing no real song that recommends it. The sparrow can only really be interesting as an individual. Yet as an individual, it is often overlooked altogether. On the other hand, when sparrows travel in a flock, they not only draw attention, but also can seem rather annoying. However, its power to fight and survive is dependent upon the sparrow keeping company with others.

Have you ever seen a group of sparrows fighting a cat or a squirrel? In order to protect a food source or defend its young, a sparrow can be quite valiant and tenacious. Together with its fellows, it is practically unbeatable.

Consider also that sparrows do not find it difficult to mix with all sorts of other birds. More often than not, one finds sparrows feeding, flying and roosting among a variety of “non-sparrows”. At times, a flock will adopt a “non-sparrow”, such as a canary or a parakeet, (an amusing and sweetly touching sight to behold), and completely accept it as an equal member. Demonstrating that “birds of a feather” means something more essential than mere color.

It seems to me that there is good reason for “His eye” to be on the sparrow, for God to feed them and for Him to mark when one falls. Perhaps, there is something that we can learn from these little creatures in this present age.

Recently, I have felt “sparrowish” in the face of the huge pieces of legislation that have spent, or propose to spend, enormous amounts on schemes with doubtful, at best, benefit, and potential negative consequences to our freedom. So, what is a “sparrow” to do, especially we human-type “sparrows” who “are of more value than many sparrows” of the bird-type? My answer is to become a wise (sapient) sparrow; one who understands the nature of the “cats” and “squirrels” who prowl our world.

In the daily life of a “sparrow”, however, there is limited time to gather such information, let alone investigate or assimilate it. Yet information is essential in order to defend ourselves against those who threaten our lives, liberties and our pursuit of happiness. Therefore, The Sapient Sparrow, seeks to be a tool that summarizes many sources in an effort to inform and empower the individual as each one seeks to form opinions, make decisions, explain positions and/or take action.

Three separate incidents planted the seeds, (if I can be permitted to stretch my metaphor), for The Sapient Sparrow. The first happened as I was discussing the “Cap and Trade”, a.k.a. “Cap and Tax”, bill with a group of friends. One lady asked me question upon question, until another one of my friends thought that she was trying to be argumentative and began to intervene on my behalf. The first lady told us that she was hearing this information for the first time and simply wanted to know more. She then turned to me and said, “How do you know all these things?” I told her that I watched, I read, I listened and I did research on the internet. “Oh,” she said, “I don’t know how to do all of that, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have the time.”

The second incident occurred a few weeks ago when I was speaking to a (liberal) friend about the proposed healthcare reform, and especially about the possibility of the “public option” it might establish. My friend was very supportive of such an option. I was arguing against it. She finally asked me what alternative I would support instead. I listed some of the points included in the various Republican Senate bills . (Check out these bills yourself). Finally she said, “Well, all that would work for you because you are extraordinarily smart and competent. You know how to compare plans and choose options and find out information. Most people are just not smart enough to do that. That’s why we need a government plan.” To me, her remark was jarring. I was rather shocked that she believes that “most people” are too incompetent (?), incapable (?), dumb(?) to make their own health care decisions. If these really are not “smart enough” to exercise their freedom to choose a health care plan, then I suppose that justified the Government taking care of that for them. (Excuse me while I shudder!) I would like to think that this point of view is specific to my friend; I suspect, however, she represents the majority view of liberals.

Finally, I had the good fortune to read the autobiography of Whittaker Chambers who was the principle witness against Alger Hiss in the late 1940’s. The book, Witness, is a thought-provoking narrative of how Chambers first joined and later defected from Communism. As I read, I found myself forgetting that the book had been written more than 50 years ago; his account was eerily familiar. At a point late in the book, Chambers offers this explanation for why the Government tried to stifle the investigation into Hiss. He first admits that some of the reason could have been “a manifestation of partisan politics”. But then he continued,
“The explanation lies deeper. The simple fact is that when I took up my little sling and aimed at Communism, I also hit something else. What I hit was the forces of that great socialist revolution which in the name of liberalism, spasmodically, incompletely, somewhat formlessly, but always in the same direction, has been inching its ice cap over the nation for two decades. This is not a charge. My opinion of that revolution is not at issue. It is a statement of fact that need startle no one who has voted for that revolution in whole or in part, and, consciously or unconsciously, a majority of the nation has so voted for years. It was the forces of that revolution that I struck at the point of its struggle for power…No one could have been more dismayed than I at what I had hit, for though I knew it existed, I still had no adequate idea of its extent, the depth of its penetration or the fierce vindictiveness of its revolutionary temper, which is a reflex of its struggle to keep and advance its political power”. (Witness, pp. 741, 742)
There really is “nothing new under the sun”, is there? I was particularly struck by Chambers’ observation that the “ice cap” had been moving to cover the nation for two decades—it has now been SEVEN decades!

Taken together, these three incidents have motivated me to fight, if in only a very small way, that creeping “ice cap” by also becoming a witness to the truth. My hope is that those who read the “Sapient Sparrow” will shape it by their own comments and questions about the subjects most important for them.

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