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Creating a More Enlightened Right

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Stephen Dinan
Last week I said I would continue to explore this week how we can create a more enlightened left. Instead, I'm feeling drawn to the other side of the polarity to write about how to encourage the creation of a more enlightened right.

In some ways, the two go hand in hand. As happens in any relationship, when one side of a polarity experiences growth, it can help accelerate growth in the other. As we create a more enlightened left, it automatically encourages the enlightened right. And vice versa. I see our political polarity as one of interdependence - the fractious tug-of-war dynamics between Democrats and Republicans tends to reinforce relating from a certain level. Shifts on either side open space for the other side to evolve as well.

So, from this perspective, creating a more enlightened right is vital for the sake of political progress in America because it provides the complementary half to a more enlightened left.

When I say "enlightened right," many on the left cringe - they have a deep belief that the values, principles, and ideals of enlightened living are found entirely on the left. However, I believe that doesn't see the situation deeply enough. There are noble, beautiful, deep, generous, caring, wise, skilled, and dynamic people on the right, just as there are on the left. The difference is one of personal predilection - where does our soul naturally gravitate? Do we champion the underdog by working for the poor and the marginalized? Or do we focus on creating profitable enterprises that ensure prosperity for all? Do we enhance our social safety net so that all members of our society feel cherished? Or do we focus on cultivating the self-discipline, courage, and fortitude to protect our society, such as in the military?

Nurturers and champions of underdogs tend to lean left whereas protectors and wielders of power tend to lean right. Instead of judging one side of the political polarity as intrinsically better, it is wiser to respect each as the expression of an evolutionary impulse. We each have our rightful role to play here, and we're better off encouraging the best in each other rather than condemning the traits we don't share.

So although I lean left, I find it valuable to reflect upon what a more enlightened right looks like. Here are a few principles that occur to me in describing someone who expresses what I see as the enlightened right:

  • Progress-oriented - has a deep respect and love for the past and for what we've already achieved without that love turning into a fear of change. Believes in progress that builds upon the past in respectful ways.
  • Entrepreneurial - celebrates the potency of free enterprise while recognizing that it needs to take place in a context that has checks and balances on power, including healthy labor laws and market regulation. Sees government's job as creating a business climate that encourages creative, dynamic entrepreneurship.
  • Inner-disciplined - does not believe that problems are solved simply by spending more money but on developing internal capacity in concert with outer opportunities. Emphasis on moral development, self-reliance, and education. Cultivates personal strength and ability to protect others.
  • Green - embraces the virtue of sustainability because it results in greater financial well-being, improved conservation of natural resources, and enhanced national security, as well as leaving a healthier planet as a legacy for our grandchildren.
  • Global - recognizes that we live in a global economy and that to perform well we need to think and act with a global orientation. Cares about the well-being of people from other countries and nations. Sees enhanced trade as a path to mutual benefit, not just unilateral gain. Encourages entrepreneurism in other countries rather than classical aid.
  • Libertarian - strongly believes in personal liberties and the freedom to make choices. Does not legislate morality, even while striving to live from a high level of personal morality. Strong supporter of freedom of expression.
  • Wisdom-seeker - even as a member of a traditional religions, remains open to the spiritual essence of all traditions and all people. Culls the most transformational wisdom from own tradition while respecting the wisdom of others. Has a growth-oriented spiritual life.
  • Scientific - Embraces the open-ended inquiry of science as well as its conclusions, even when those contradict traditional understandings.
  • Humorous - has the ability to not take life too seriously, takes great enjoyment in living .
  • Committed to family - recognizes the importance of supporting and loving one's family, spending time with children, spouse, and relatives. Strives to cultivate a positive, supportive, and safe home environment. Sees the importance for society to have a strong sense of family as a place to cultivate trust, mutual support, commitment, and love.
  • Relates well to left - can bracket politics and have meaningful, deep relationships with those on the other side of the political polarity (from friendship to teamwork all the way to getting married).
  • Service - dedicates a significant portion of time to helping others through volunteerism, mentoring, or philanthropy.

    That is, of course, far from a comprehensive list. But it does start to paint the broad brush-strokes of the more enlightened right that is emerging. This more enlightened right serves as an improvement over the closed-minded, fearful, and control-based factions of the Republican party that have become too powerful for our collective good.

    In a previous column, I had given a somewhat playful name to the higher-octave expression of the right wing - the Radical Republicans - signifying their embrace of the more radical change elements on the left. In retrospect, though, "radical" is a term that most people on the right shy away from since it doesn't connote much respect for the past or power structures - too much youthful rebellion in it. Perhaps a more appropriate name is Progressive Republicans because they are committed to progress - economic, moral, scientific, and spiritual.

    The great benefit of adopting "progressive Republican" as the banner for this more enlightened right would be that it is the same term that many Democrats use to describe themselves. The term thus points to the deeper truth, which is that in order to have integrated progress as a country, we need to evolve on all levels and with as many people as possible. The virtues, disciplines, and skills developed by an enlightened right will prove just as valuable as the virtues, disciplines, and skills developed by an enlightened left. As these two wings emerge in parallel, they can demonstrate a shared commitment to "progress" while respecting their differences in how they contribute to that progress. In that way, the next political order can become a synergistic complementarity rather than an antagonistic polarity.
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    Stephen Dinan is the author of Radical Spirit and the founder of the Radical Spirit community, as well as the Director of Membership and Marketing for the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in human (more...)

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